Patients often ask about treatments for children – in addition to acupuncture, for a number of common or uncommon conditions. Shonishin pediatric massage is a Japanese treatment that uses small tools to tap, rub, press, scratch, and stroke the body’s skin. Shonishin translates to “children’s needle” and although primarily used for young ones, Shonishin massage can be applied to anyone.
Traditional Shonishin pediatric massage became widely popularized in the 20th century in Japan. Unlike traditional acupuncture, Shonishin focuses on massage rather than needle insertion, and the tools to administer it are made of silver, stainless steel, bronze, and even gold. Making it relatable for kids, many of the tools even have cute names and resemble objects like “the bug,” or the “rake” which excite kids who may otherwise be skittish.
Shonishin massage is a pragmatic system of treatment with simple, minimal theory needed to apply treatment. Children are highly receptive to the treatment and love it! Since the treatment is harmless, I usually let the children apply a bit of massage to themselves and even to me.
Other treatments that are used in conjunction with Shonishin massage are the application of light cups on the body to release stuck energy and/or heat. You may recall that cupping received a burst of popularity in America when an image surfaced of Gwyneth Paltrow wearing a backless gown to the Democratic National Convention, exposing purple colored circles. Unlike Gwyneth’s treatment, cupping on children is very gentle and leaves little to no markings.
To supplement the massage, a practitioner may insert a few acupuncture pins. depending on the child’s age, the pins are usually not retained rather the pin is inserted and withdrawn in a painless way that the children barely know what happened. Additionally, ear seeds little gold or silver balls backed with tape or tiny press tacks can be left on the acupressure points for up to 48 hours to strengthen the treatment.
I started my search into Shonishin massage because I was on the hunt to find a non-invasive way to treat my daughter’s enlarged tonsils. She contracted mononucleosis in pre-school and since then her tonsils remained enlarged. Although she didn’t report feeling sick, she failed her hearing test in Kindergarten. An Ear, Nose, and Throat specialist suggested either surgery or hearing aids. I was devastated and I felt terribly guilty that I let her catch mono in the first place! (Even though it wasn’t my fault, no one said being a mom came with rational thinking).
Before embarking on surgery I decided to do 30-Day intense treatment that included acupressure, neck massage, acupuncture, homeopathy, dietary changes, moxibustion, and castor oil packs on her neck. Her hearing completely improved and she did remarkably well on her next hearing test. Overall, she is stronger and more resilient. Her pediatrician was impressed.
One of the greatest elements of Shonishin pediatric massage is the ability to teach parents how to continue treatment at home. This not only expedites the healing process but can help parents feel more connected to recovery.
In the clinical setting and at home Shonishin pediatric massage is a great complementary therapy for any child. Please have all children evaluated by their pediatrician first as Shonishin provides excellent complementary treatment to Western medicine. Children love the treatment and you may find yourself getting a little massage yourself from your little one!