Hello and welcome to the show. I’d like to first thank the American Acupuncture Council for hosting this show. It’s great to be here and my name is Moshe Heller. For those of you who have seen me before here I teach, together with Dr. Cowan, a course on Chinese pediatric acupuncture. And today I’d like to speak about harmonizing the earth to treat many disorders. So let’s dive in. I hope that the slides are up.
When we talk about children especially, and we believe that children are born with a really weak digestive system and therefore the digestive disorders are usually the root of many childhood disorders. And so that’s an important thing to remember when we are treating children because although we may see various different disorders, the root cause or the reason that they are suffering from whatever, we’ll see a little later what these might be, are rooted in a weak digestive system so we have to support that in order to resolve the issue.
What we will see is since these kind of patterns of digestive dysfunctions cause different issues in the child such as accumulation disorders or exposure to foods that are not appropriate, those cause different issues of poor transformation and therefore affect the child’s ability to transform. And therefore this accumulation can cause heat and we can see that affecting the fire or the heart with overreacting and overstimulation. We can see also that it can affect the lung and cause issues of accumulation of dampness in the lung and also affecting the kidneys with cold. The cold foods can create different types of issues such as inability to resolve toxicity. And also we can affect, of course, the liver that will cause also wind and affect the emotional state of the child as having different anger issues and so on and so forth.
We can see that although the root cause is in the earth, it can affect any of the five other organs to cause issues of imbalance. I also wanted to point out and remember for those of you who have heard our previous lectures about this really important triad that we call the gastro immune, neuro triangle that each one of these parts are affected by or help to be regulated by the others. So when one part of this is not functioning correctly, then it can affect the others. We have the gastro part, which means that the gut, the digestive system, our gut biome, all that can affect our immune system and also our neurological function.
It can cause issues with either imbalanced immunity or different neurological disorders starting from having inability to focus, to even inability to communicate. So we can see that kind of triangle and really a very important triangle in treating children.
I also wanted to point out that there are many books starting with traditional books like the Pi Wei Lun where Li Dong Yuan talks about the importance of balancing spleen and stomach to resolve many, many disorders both in children and adults. This doesn’t stop at at the child. It can affect also many disorders in adults and I think that even if you are treating an adult and a really important aspect of of that is to look at their diet and see what’s going on in the digestive system to to support many of the treatment many of the conditions that you might be treating. I also wanted to point out that that Li Dong Yuan talks about another concept of what he determines is yin fire, which is a little bit like a yin vacuity of the spleen.
We don’t think of that in general, but also at the end of this I will point out an article by Steven Clavey, which is a really good source to read about this concept of a spleen yin vacuity. Also in more modern books we can see Bob Flaws in his handbooks of TCM pediatrics points out that a weak digestion is the cause for many childhood diseases such as colic, earache, cough, swollen glands, allergies and pediatric asthma and eczema. And that’s what we are going to see also as we continue. Julian Scott in his book on pediatric acupuncture points out that there are five really common patterns of illness that that are at the root of many disorders. And the interesting thing is that three of them are issues of spleen vacuity and all of them in the treatment, you will see that they’re really focused on supporting the spleen.
I’d like to stay with Julian a little bit and just to point out these five common patterns, he names them as spleen qi vacuity, hyperactive spleen qi vacuity, accumulation disorder, hyperactive kidney qi vacuity and lingering pathogenic factor. And if you look in his book and see each one of them addresses the spleen vacuity as the main treatment principle. So whichever one of these five disorders, you’ll see that spleen is something that’s in the treatment protocol.
But I want to look at two of them for this lecture. The first one of course is the diagnosis of spleen qi deficiency. So although when we see this diagnosis, we’ll see that the child will have a sallow complexion or being very pale. Their skin tones and limbs are flabby. By the way, one of the disorders that I see frequently in in my office is low muscle tone in kids and that’s very closely linked to spleen qi deficiency as of course, we know that the spleen is in charge of muscles and when the muscle tone is low, it does point for me, it’s a strong indication that there is a spleen deficiency that needs to be addressed.
The lips are pale. Another really important, very common thing that I note is that I look at the lips and if the lower lip is a little bit protruding or I call it flabby, it kind of falls forward and and a lot of times you will see that the child is drooling very easily because they’re not able to close the lips appropriately. That’s another really strong indication for a spleen qi vacuity. Of course we’ll see either frequent loose stools or constipation, diarrhea alternating. But one of the most important things is that when we have a spleen deficiency that is pure spleen deficiency, the stools don’t usually smell bad. And that’s an important differentiation because sometimes the spleen deficiency can be, or it can look like a spleen deficiency, but there’s actually an accumulation disorder and in this case the stools will have a stronger smell to them.
You’ll see that there’s also a lot of times issues of sleep. The pure spleen deficient child will prefer to sleep during the day and always have difficulty falling asleep and would all kinds of manipulations in order not to go to sleep. And another important thing to see when you have a spleen qi deficiency is that these children always have a lot of phlegm and dampness, so they’ll have a tendency to get colds, coughs and other illnesses that’s associated with phlegm or damp accumulation.
And now the really, really important issue too that needs a lot of times to be addressed is their very poor appetite and picky about food. They are the classical what we call mono diet. They only eat one thing. A lot of times it’s sweet and when I say sweet, it’s not necessarily candy or something like that, but even pasta that is called a sweet food, right? It’s something a lot of times I see they’ll only eat pasta, even not with cheese or anything, but that’s what we call a mono diet. They are not open to a variety of tastes. They’re very strict on on eating things that have a sweet property and that’s something we really need to work on, and we’ll see a little later about different things that help to open up that appetite and have a little more variety.
There’s also sometimes a tendency for vomiting and gag reflex being very easily created and we’ll see, of course, the body, the tongue will be pale. There may be a white or thick or greasy tongue coating and the pulse is usually weak or slippery. And one other thing is, especially if they’re young and below or under a two year old, I always look at the finger vein. Finger vein diagnosis is very helpful I think. And the differentiation between a spleen deficiency and something that involves more stagnation and heat will determine the shade of blue that you will see in the finger vein. As a reminder, when we look at the finger vein, we rub the finger a little bit and there are three gates. We call them the wind gate, the qi gate and the life gate. And we see how far the finger vein continues. If it passes the wind gate, it means that the pathogen is starting to affect the qi. If it passes the qi gate, it is affecting the qi. And if it is reaching the life gate, it means that it is actually life threatening, so we have to be careful of that.
But the most important thing is that when we look at the shade of the blue, if it’s a pale blue, that is considered more of a cold condition, whereas where it is more of a dark blue, then that’s a sign of heat. When it’s almost black, that’s really a sign that there’s a lot of heat going on. And if you see a black and purplish hue to it, that means there’s heat and stagnation. In this case, when it’s spleen qi deficiency, we’re talking about more of a cold condition.
When we look at treatment, the points are pretty standard and these are points we use a lot. And the important thing is that we have to understand, although they are points that are very common, they are very effective, especially with children. When we combine large intestine 10 for example, with stomach 36, we are tonifying both qi and blood and that’s a really important combination. Stomach 36, shou san li of course tonifies the qi and large intestine 10 helps to regulate the stomach and intestine and reduce digestive stagnation, which is a tendency that children have. This is a very, very important combination for kids who have spleen deficiency.
We also can consider using spleen six. It regulates and strengthens and tonifies the spleen and also regulates the stomach. This again supports this combination of large intestine 10 and stomach 36. We’re supporting it by adding spleen 6. I also really like using CV-12. It strengthens the spleen and again regulates and strengthens the function of the stomach. I wanted to point out a very helpful treatment protocol that was passed on to me by Alex Tiberi. He always used to say that when we can address our digestive capability or strengthen our digestion by using spleen one for problems with digesting fat, spleen two with problems for digesting protein and spleen three for problems with digesting carbohydrates.
These are things to remember because a lot of times you’ll see that children might have difficulty digesting fat or the parent will say every time he eats avocado, for example, you will see that his stomach is bloated or that there is some issues with bowel movements or every time they eat some type of protein. Then you can use these points appropriately to help in that digestion.
I really like the last combination that you’ll see here, which is a combination of spleen three and spleen eight for those children who really have these sugar cravings. Combining spleen three and spleen eight will help reduce sugar craving, according to Alex Tiberi, and I’ve seen it work really well throughout the years of using them.
I also wanted to remind you all of this four-needle technique. We sometimes call it the Korean four-needle technique in which when we recognize that there is a weakness or an excess in a channel or organ system, then we can use the four needle technique to support that. And sometimes you can use these four needle techniques as a take home treatment with using magnets, for example, because with magnets we can clearly create tonification or dispersion by using the bio north or bio south. And when we have the four needle technique ideas that when we have a spleen vacuity and we need to strengthen the spleen, we use supplementation on heart eight and spleen two and then we have to drain liver one and spleen one and we can do that by either leaving little magnets or by during the treatment just connecting these magnets to the points and then taking them off because heart eight for example, is a weird point to leave. I mean the child may peel it or won’t continue to leave it for the treatment and it will support during supplementing the spleen.
A lot of times the reason I like to use this combination is we’ll see that there is an imbalance between the spleen and the stomach where the spleen will be deficient yet the stomach will be excess and Li Dong Yuan talks a lot about this in the Pei Wei Lun about this kind of the stomach tends to be more excess, whereas the spleen tends to be more deficient and so you might need to combine a strengthening treatment combination for the spleen, whereas you will use a dispersing treatment for the stomach.
You can see those points all listed here and this is a great technique to use in the clinic. I also very frequently either perform or teach the parents Tuina or pediatric Tuina, and I really love this hand technique where you can see that there is actually the presentation of each of the organs at the tip of the fingers. So for example, you see here on the little finger, on the pinky, the top part is Shen Jing, meaning that represents the kidney. On the ring finger, it’s Fei Jing, which represents the lung and Shin Jing here is the heart, Guan Jing the liver and on the thumb this is where we see Pi Jing, which is the spleen.
Generally speaking, in this technique, when we do rotations, when we take the thumb and we rotate, usually with our thumb, this rotation is supplementation, whereas where we are pulling upwards, this is considered dispersion. So we can either disperse this spleen or strengthen the spleen and as we can see that the stomach is actually just below the spleen so we can disperse the stomach by pulling upwards and we can strengthen the spleen by doing rotations. I’ve noted this here and on the slide. You can see that. And the arrow is pointing downwards, but it could be upwards or downwards. It doesn’t really matter. I prefer upwards actually. And I combine that with clockwise rotation around the umbilicus, which is also a great way to support the spleen.
As in abdominal diagnosis, we know that the spleen is manifest around the umbilicus. Of course on the left side we will have the liver. On the right side, this is the lung, the heart is on top and kidney is below. I also always look at the abdomen while I’m working to see any issues and palpate it to see what I’m feeling to support the diagnosis.
I also wanted to mention one other thing is the use of tiger warmer. This is a great way to treat kids. You can create heat and pressure at the same time and they respond really, really well to tiger warmer and you can use both supplementation points. You can use, for example, when you see a spleen Qi deficiency strengthen bladder 20 or bladder 21, the [inaudible 00:26:29] of the spleen and stomach, CV 12 and stomach 36 this is a great way to work the points. We’re applying both heat and pressure and it is great way to stimulate the points and kids usually respond really well to it.
Also, you can use regular moxa salt, on spleen CV8 is a great supplementation of Yuan Qi and also this kind of connection between kidney and spleen where you can strengthen the kidneys’ relationship with the spleen by using salt moxa on the umbilicus.
Last thing when we were talking about spleen Qi vacuity of course we can use herbal treatment and there are many formulas, depending on the little symptoms that you want to address. For example, our classical strengthen the spleen formula is Liu Jun Zi Tang, although technically I always prefer to use the Xiang Sha with kids. Xiang Sha means that we have the Liu Jun Zi Tang plus [inaudible 00:28:04] and [inaudible 00:28:04] that is [inaudible 00:28:04] Xiang is the Qi moving. It helps to move the intestines, it moves Jian in the belly and that’s a great addition to this formula and Sha Ren is extremely important in promoting appetite and so it’s a really important herb, especially for those kids who have this mono diet where they are not open to to experiencing other tastes. I think of Sha Ren. Also Shen Ling Bai Zhu San, which is the best formula, I think, for spleen dampness. If you you see a damp spleen, so a combination of spleen Qi vacuity with dampness, there’s nothing like Shen Ling Bai Zhu San.It’s an amazing formula for that condition and the two main symptoms is diarrhea and soft stools and lack of appetite, low appetite. These are really the two main symptoms for Shen Ling Bai Zhu San.
Of course we can also use Gui Pi Tang, which is this kind of relationship between where the spleen is actually deficient, but the heart has some what we might see as a blood vacuity or a heart Qi vacuity with some irritability, difficulty sleeping, and the Gui Pi Tang combination addresses that kind of both heart and spleen.
Bu Zhong Yi Qi Tang, of course is for lifting the central Qi. That’s very important. And Xiao Jian Zhong Tang also is a great formula, a very simple formula for this kind of when the spleen is really deficient, the center is a week. I also want to point point out I’ve developed a combination of herbs, a line of herbs actually that I’ve called Moshen herbs. It plays on the word Moshen and the word Moshen and the word shen there is affecting the spirit. But the idea is that I’ve created a few pediatric formulas that are really helpful for… I’ve found them really effective for different disorders.
One of them I’ve called Digest and this is a combination that will address children with spleen Qi acuity and or the the next pattern that we will see, which is an accumulation disorder. It’s a formula that addresses both things and and very effectively. Please check it out on moshenherbs.com and you can read the ingredients and see how the functions of this formula. But it is a formula that I use for digestive disorders in children when those… it could be even that when I suspect that when a child comes in with eczema that I suspect comes from this weak spleen that we can use Digest to address that. And especially if they have a tendency to get asthma, for example, or a lot of phlegm disease, then we can still use Digest to resolve that.
Let’s move to the next common disorder and we call it accumulation disorder. It is pretty much similar to the concept of food accumulation in adults, but it’s manifestation in children is a little different and it is is associated with exposure to foods that are not appropriate to or are difficult for the child to digest. One of the most common reasons for an accumulation disorder, unfortunately, is the use of formula in kids. I think that the issues with the formula is that it is over rich. Therefore, it’s very hard on the digestive system and therefore it causes a lot of issues. I know sometimes we need to use it, but we have to recognize or realize that it can cause a problem. Another issue is that children are sometimes offered food too early when they’re not really ready for food and therefore that causes also issues.
It’s very common that we see accumulation disorders around six months of age. That’s when solids are being introduced to the diet. And this is a period where accumulation disorders can develop. One of the most important symptoms that I see for accumulation disorder is this redness in the cheeks. And I can almost see that, I can suspect it already when I see the patient in the waiting room and I see those two red lights as cheeks. They’re really red. I have a picture in the next slide so you will see that. And that’s a really common symptom. A lot of times you have to ask the parent, “Oh, does he have these red cheeks all the time, or is he just hot or something like that?”
A lot of times when it’s an accumulation disorder, they’re pretty much consistent. The cheeks are red most of the time. They’ll also suffer from a lot of irritability, insomnia and a lot of lingering illnesses, especially this green nasal discharge. When you see this little kid with the green nasal discharge in his nostril and that’s something that the parents are complaining about.They’ll say this child is always sick. Everything that’s around, he immediately gets it. And he immediately gets this kind of nasal green nasal discharge. That’s a another very typical accumulation disorder symptom.
The interesting thing is that this accumulation disorder pattern usually can transfer or develop into a lot of what we would categorize or Western doctors will categorize as food allergies. So we’ll see how that develops in a second. These are the main symptoms. We can see here that this kind of red cheek, you see this baby with these kind of red cheeks, looks really cute. You think this is a a healthy little kid, but actually this is sign of a problem a lot of times, especially when it’s been going on for a little bit, you’ll see that then the skin becomes a little bumpy around the the cheeks. And when you see this kind of little bumpy area as well as red cheeks, it’s pretty much a food accumulation involvement.
We can see that in babies, the reason why you’ll have an accumulation disorder is overfeeding cow milk formulas. As we said, poor sleep and and dysbiosis are really the major causes in babies. In children we look at poor quality of foods, cold, raw foods, sugars, or sugar can be a cause for an accumulation disorder and a lot of this kind of very what we call children food are usually like pizza. Amazing. A great way to cause food accumulation in a child is give them lots of pizza. That’s something that we have to pay attention to.
Definitely also a general poor eating habit and I think one of the things that we have to remember is that one of the things that’s really strengthening to the spleen is the creation of a routine of eating, so that eating at the regular times and creating this kind of a regular pattern of eating is something that is not necessarily something that we need to teach our kids. And I think that’s a problem with a lot of parents that they don’t enforce it so that the tendency is to feed children as they want or on demand as we call it, on demand feeding, where that actually sets the grounds or creating an accumulation disorder.
It’s about eating mindfully and creating these mealtimes and involving children in that process is really, really part of strengthening the spleen and preventing food accumulation. What we’ll see is this hunger with no real desire to eat. They’ll say, “I want this”, and then they won’t eat it. And then there’s this kind of sensation that you’re hungry but you don’t know what to eat. Never satisfied. Sometimes reflux. You’ll hear them eating and then they’ll have a lot of burping up of gas, these red cheeks, green stools babies. This is another really very important sign, yellow nasal discharge and congestion and also chronic ear infections, chronic cough, chronic or even asthma. Sometimes the breath sounds like a little sour, so it is affecting the stomach and you can actually smell it. Eczema, cradle cap. The skin is starting to be affected by that and a lot of restlessness, hyperactivity and sometimes behavioral issues develop from this kind of accumulation disorder. Although it starts out in the digestive system, it affects many, many areas of imbalance.
The best time to, to catch or to address this food accumulation is when the children are really young and the best treatment the Sifengwen points, the four points. And you can see their location here and the bends. I know that traditionally they’re saying that you need to prick it and squeeze it until some yellow fluid comes out. I just insert the needle in all four areas and I get great results. You don’t really need to stand and squeeze it. I also recommend to use these points at the end of the treatment so when it hurts and the baby’s not crying in the room, you can do it and have them go and that’s a really a good way to use these points.
I teach the parents this kind of a massage of the thenar eminence that helps to reduce food accumulation and then also disperse the stomach. These are all techniques that really help to resolve food accumulation. With older kids, we can look at using CB 12 and stomach 36 as we remember. Large intestine 10 also helps with this kind of regulating of the stomach. Oops, sorry about that. And another combination that I really like to use is the combination of CV10, CV12 and CV13 that helps to regulate the flow of stomach and opening and closing of the sphincters. This is a really important thing. Stomach 36 of course is a great point for stomach pain and if there’s a lot of phlegm we do need to use stomach 40. If there’s a lot of phlegm in the lung, I usually don’t start with using stomach 40. I start with using CV 22 to start kind of resolving the phlegm in the lungs and only then I will use stomach 40, so that’s another important thing to remember.
What herbs? There’s Bao He Wan. This is the classical formula for food accumulation and, as I said, if there’s a lot of them, if the spleen is deficient and there is accumulation of dampness, I always think of Shen Ling Bai Zhu San. In this case it’s mostly when there’s soft stool. So if there’s this kind of a stinky diarrhea most of the time then I would use Shen Ling Bai Zhu San. Otherwise I’ll use Bao He Wan if there’s this alternating constipation diarrhea. Then Digest, again, is the herbal formula that I developed and you can read about it in moshenherbs.com and I wanted to point out another formula that I’ve been working with. It’s called React. I called it React but it’s based on Wu Mae Wan and I know that Wu Mae Wan is usually a parasite formula, but I’ve used it very effectively for for for food allergies, food sensitivities and in general this kind of tendency to be very allergic, whether it’s allergic asthma or allergic skin reaction.
All these things are really very affected, can be addressed by the use of React, which is an herbal formula based on Wu Mei Chuan and I’ve changed it a bit to be very well used with children. Please take a look at that because it’s a very good tool to use for different types of conditions in pediatrics and also adults actually can use React in this case, especially where there’s food allergies as a basis for many problems.
I also wanted to point you to a very interesting article about this kind of spleen and stomach yin deficiency. It’s not something we see so frequently. But Stephen Clavey wrote a wonderful article about the differentiation and treatment of spleen and stomach yin vacuity, so please read it. It’s from the journal of Chinese medicine from January of 1995. I know it’s a while ago, but it’s a great article, and I wanted to point out that these are things that you will see very frequently with children is that they’ll have trouble digesting food, easily full after eating small amounts, typical right? Bloating and feeling of uncomfortable fullness after eating, loss of taste discrimination, so they only want to eat sweet things, dry lips, different type of ulcerations in the mouth.
Look at these symptoms. These are things that I see very frequently and in this article he will help you differentiate between them and the use of different formulas. So a very good resource. Okay. I think I went over time, but I’m not sure. Anyway, I want you to thank you for listening and being with me today. I have here, if you want more information about Moshen herbs, please go to moshenherbs.com and also I wanted to point out that this is the certification course that’s going to start in March, jingshenpediatrics.com.Thank you very much and I will see you again in, I think it is in February.
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