Thursday, March 1, 2012

THE TREATMENT OF CHILDREN BY ACUPUNCTURE

An Interview with Julian Scott by Peter Deadman

Peter: You've been running the Children's Clinic for two years. Do you want to say
something about how it started, and how you first started treating children with
acupuncture?
Julian: Yes certainly. When I was first trained at East Grinstead, or Gerrard's Cross as
it was then, I was told not to treat children under the age of seven, because it would
interfere too much with their energy. Now that was right for me at the time, because I
was really very inexperienced, straight out of acupuncture school. At that time my
children were very young and started on their childhood illnesses. If you see your
children suffering, say from a high fever, it's very difficult to stand by and do nothing.
Actually what precipitated it was that my eldest son had measles and had a very high
fever with it, and I thought, well if I don't do something, his energy is going to be a
great deal more disturbed by the measles.So I laid in and treated the poor fellow. I'm
afraid it hurt him terribly because my needle technique wasn't very good, but I treated
him at nine o'clock and at eleven o'clock the fever had gone down and he was his
normal self, and I was just so thankful for acupuncture. As well as being thankful I
thought, well this is a wonderful way of treating children and as you know - you have
children too - anyone who has children meets other people with children and you get
talking over the school gate or something like that, and very soon I was treating other
children with similar problems. Very soon there was a trail of children coming up to
my door, snivelling with some disease, and going away snivelling because I treated
them with acupuncture. So that was how I started.
Peter: Apart from just practising on your own and other children, how did you further
develop your knowledge and understanding?
Julian: Well to begin with it was largely by treating my own and other children and
extending the principles of treating adults to treating children. I was given a great
boost going to China in 1981/2 where we treated a number of children in the clinic.
That gave me great confidence. Also, shortly after that I learnt Chinese and was able to
read the Chinese books on paediatrics myself and this has opened a huge field for me.
Peter: What particularly did you learn in China as far as treating children is concerned.
Were children of all ages coming into the clinic?
Julian: Mostly very young children, about a year old. It gave me confidence really,
seeing people with centuries of tradition behind them treating children. I thought well
I'm actually doing it right.
Peter: Did they always use acupuncture?
Julian: Well we were in an acupuncture clinic, so we always used acupuncture.
Peter: Never massage?
Julian: No, it wasn't a massage clinic. Treating Chinese children of course is different.
The Chinese call the paediatric department the 'mute department' because the children
don't say anything. They just sit there and when you put the needles in they might
grunt slightly but that's as far as it goes. I wouldn't call the paediatric department in
the West a mute department.
Peter: You mean they complain more or just chatter more?
Julian: They run around, they ask you all sorts of questions like about the funny shape
of your face or why your shoelaces aren't done up, and they complain like anything
when you put the needles in.
Peter: So you started to treat more and more children in your own practice and then
decided to set up the children's clinic.
Julian: It was a long-cherished dream. For many years I thought of setting up a
children's clinic. There are many problems treating children in a normal practice. One
is that the children rush around, charge around, and break the place up, and if you've
got anything at all delicate, anything you love, you don't want to expose it to
hyperactive children. So I wanted to have a place where the children could be more
free to run around and have some toys and things. And secondly, the time you need
most help in treating children is when you've got least money at all. You've got several
hungry mouths to feed maybe, and only one income which is probably not very large,
and I knew that a lot of people couldn't come to acupuncture simply because they
couldn't afford it. That was the other main reason for setting up the clinic - to make
acupuncture available for people who couldn't afford full private fees.
Peter: So how did you set about dealing with the financial question?
Julian: Well I give a little of my time and a colleague, Tim Martin gives a little of his,
and we're busy fund-raising so that we can spend more time doing it.
Peter: You set the clinic up as a charity. Does it receive any funding from anybody?
Julian: There's a slow trickle at present but we haven't made any big appeals yet,
although we hope to.
Peter: How much time do you put in each week?
Julian: It's only one afternoon a week - it's not enough, by any means, because it means
that one is restricted to treating chronic diseases. Children's diseases change so rapidly
- it may not be there one moment, and another moment its very very serious and a few
hours later it's completely gone. It would be nice to be able to treat any day of the week
and any time of the day. But it's a start - half a day a week. And actually we can treat a
lot of children in that time. I've treated nearly three hundred children in the two years.
Peter: So how many children do you treat in an afternoon?
Julian: Between ten and twenty.
Peter: And what kind of problems are you treating?
Julian: Well as you know Brighton is a very damp place so we see a lot of catarrhal
problems. Hyperactivity comes quite high, and insomnia which brings parents to their
knees very quickly and they'll soon consider alternative medicine even if they've never
thought of it before. All in all we see a wide range of problems.
Peter: What kind of response from treatment are you observing?
Julian: Absolutely wonderful - it's actually beyond my expectations. I think there are
very few children who go away without having had some help. There are one or two
who don't seem to respond at all, but generally the speed at which they respond and
the success rate really amazes me.
Peter: Have most of the children brought to you been treated with Western medicine
first?
Julian: Yes I'd say they've all been through the Western medicine system and come out
the other end. One of the commonest types of illness we treat is the so-called
pathogenic factor remaining. This is where children get chronic diseases like recurrent
tonsillitis, chronic otitis media, chronic recurrent bronchitis and so on. A lot of these
children will have taken antibiotics, for example with bronchitis. A month later they'll
get another cold or cough which will quickly go onto the chest and they'll be given
more antibiotics and this goes on in a continuing cycle. Now one mustn't knock
antibiotics because they may actually be keeping these children alive. They might have
died in previous times. On the other hand it's not really a very good situation to be in.
It can easily lead to asthma or some other illness because the lungs are weakened. But
it responds very very well to Chinese medicine - this condition known as pathogenic
factor remaining. I suppose the idea is present in the alternative medicine field in
homoeopathy where they recognise it as a miasm. In fact Hahnemann's original
miasms were just this and they didn't relate to any hereditary illness. It was some
illness that you got that you hadn't completely expelled. So we see a lot of these and
acupuncture is very helpful in getting rid of them.
Peter: You say that children in England complain about the pain of acupuncture, is that
ever a real hindrance in treatment?
Julian: Well sometimes it is, but usually they just complain a lot at the same time as
offering out their hand or leg quite freely - whilst screaming blue murder.
Peter: How about the parents, are they ever a problem in this respect?
Julian: Yes sometimes. We had one parent who fainted although the child didn't mind
at all. Generally though, the response from parents has been very positive, and actually
they're amazed on the whole how little acupuncture hurts and what a gentle therapy it
is, because one treatment with acupuncture can be less traumatic and painful than one
test in Western medicine.
Peter: How much do the parents pay at the clinic?
Julian: A nominal two pounds at present.
Peter: I know that you also prescribe herbs for children, can you say a bit about that?
Julian: Yes, I've prescribed herbs for adults for many years and it was a natural
extension for me to treat children with herbs as well as acupuncture. These are
Western herbs, although my thinking is always in terms of Chinese medicine. I make a
diagnosis in terms of Chinese medicine, then choose the treatment - either herbs or
acupuncture. I think it's true to say I've built up my own understanding of the
functions of Western herbs in terms of Chinese medicine. I don't think of herbs so
much as stimulants or relaxants in the way a western herbalist might, but more in
terms of tonifying spleen-qi, resolving phlegm and so on.
Peter: You give the herbs mainly as an adjunct to acupuncture treatment?
Julian: Mainly as an adjunct, although there are some problems that don't really
respond very well to acupuncture, and respond marvellously to herbs, for example
chronic tonsillitis. You can treat it with acupuncture but it may take twenty or thirty
treatments and the children get pretty fed up after a few treatments. Give them one
herb and they take it over two, three, four months and it cures it with much less effort
from everybody.
Peter: What's the average number of treatments that you give?
Julian: Well how long is a piece of string? I suppose three or four treatments on
average. Sometimes it's just one treatment. The other day we had some very worried
parents come in with a child with a very bad case of eczema. Actually one of the worst
that I've seen - covered from head to foot with suppurating eczema. I shook my head
and said this is one of the worst cases I've seen - better book in a great number of
appointments. They didn't turn up the next week and I thought oh dear, what have I
said - I hope I haven't upset them too much. Anyway I happened to see the father in
the street and I asked him how the child had got on, and he said "Oh! It was cured of
course, I knew it would be".
Peter: You refer in your book that we will come onto in a minute to some experience in
treating congenital problems in children. You say for example that holes in the heart
can be cured. Does that derive from your experience?
Julian: Yes. We've treated one or two rare syndromes which are said in Western
medicine to be congenital and incurable. One was a deficiency of some pancreatic
enzyme which gives rise to lots of rather weird signs later on in life, for example the
hip becomes malformed. But the main current problem was that the digestion was no
good at all. We treated that successfully. On the other hand of course there are some
which are not treated successfully, for example a child was missing some muscles and
the acupuncture didn't cause the muscles to grow. But I think that sometimes miracles
happen when you least expect them. As far as holes in the heart are concerned I did
have one baby with a very small hole that was not large enough for them to consider
operating. It's well known in Western medicine that very small holes in the heart can
repair themselves. Before the acupuncture she had a hole in the heart and after the
acupuncture - a month or two later - there was no hole in the heart so I think it
certainly speeded up the process of repair. At first my mind went completely blank
and I said I haven't got the slightest idea what to do, and then when I came back to
earth again I thought well I must just use the straightforward principles that I've learnt
- do a diagnosis in terms of the differentiation of syndromes and treat according to
that, and that was the basis of the treatment. In this case it was spleen-qi xu and
retention of phlegm-damp.
Peter: Coming on to your book now, you've written a fairly substantial book - a
textbook - on the treatment of children by acupuncture which is due to be published in
the spring. Why did you decide to write a book?
Julian: I decided to write a book to help others to use such a wonderful method of
treatment, and in this way reach people and encourage them to treat children with
acupuncture. I think it's true to say that in the West there are a lot of forces pulling us
away from TCM. There are just three or four good textbooks on acupuncture - that's
nothing - and we're bombarded with all sorts of information from people like
homoeopathic practitioners, psycho-linguistic experts, herbalists, naturopaths,
dieticians. All of these are firmly rooted in the Western tradition. Sometimes if you get
a difficult case there's nowhere to turn to - there's no book that says anything about it
to help you understand it, so you have to turn to people rooted in the Western
tradition. These are all forces pulling us away from TCM. I think this was how it came
about that we had these various schools of acupuncture in this country. It's because
when the schools were founded, the stream of information from China was only a
trickle and the brave people who were practising acupuncture at that time - to whom
we're all grateful - had to supplement it with Western ideas, and I think this is how the
Leamington school has grown up here, with the emphasis on emotions as a cause of
disease. It's very much a Western idea, as is the Western idea of the spirit. Not a crass
materialistic Western approach - it's a fine approach - but it's a Western approach.
Peter: Do you not feel that this contribution is valuable in the development of
acupuncture and Chinese medicine - this emphasis on the emotions and the spirit?
Julian: I think it's very valuable but it's not TCM and I think that there's a huge body of
information on TCM and the use of acupuncture, on the use and meaning of the points
and so on which most people don't have access to.
Peter: Looking back on the last two years of running the children's clinic what do you
feel are the main things that you've learnt?
Julian: I've learnt an enormous amount - it's so stimulating. One of the most exciting
things has been about the reality of Qi in the body. When you learn acupuncture for
the first time, you go through yin-yang, the Qi, the blood, the body fluids, the five
elements, the differentiation of syndromes etc. and they're all treated in the same way,
and what for me has been very exciting is discovering that the Qi is absolutely real.
Yin-yang, I'm not sure whether it's real or whether it's just a way of looking at the
world. For example the Indians often divide things into three, the Chinese into two -
these are ways of putting order into an otherwise chaotic world. This is certainly true
of the five elements - it's a way of finding some order in the outside world. It's
certainly true of the differentiation of syndromes too. But the Qi is real - it's something
you can actually feel.
Peter: Why do you feel you've learnt this more from treating children than from
treating adults?
Julian: Well it's happened at the same time. It's partly that for children the Qi is much
more real. It's much more important for them. Their bodies are hardly formed - in a
new-born baby the Qi is much more important than the body. Also you can see in
clinical practice how they draw the Qi from their mother. The mother actually gives
them a continuing supply of Qi when they're ill and it's been fascinating for me to
watch this. How does the Qi get from the mother to the child? It comes from the
mother's chest direct to the child, and it finds its natural expression in the mother
giving milk to the child; but actually as well as the milk, the Qi comes out through the
chest to the new-born baby. If something goes wrong there, for example if the mother
witholds the Qi, or hasn't got any, then maybe the baby won't grow - it actually needs
the Qi from its mother.
Peter: So the Qi can be imparted by the mother even if she's not breast-feeding. Do you
think it can be witheld even if she is breast-feeding?
Julian: Yes, in fact I've used the word mother in this context, but when it comes to
giving Qi one should use the term 'mothering parent' which sometimes can be the
father - the father can be giving the Qi and the mother the milk. As the child grows
older and doesn't need the milk, the source of the Qi from the parent should descend
to somewhere around the stomach area, which is why a lot of people get middle-aged
spread - the Qi is taken from the middle region and given to the children. I'm not
saying that's the only reason for middle-aged spread, for example if you overwork
then you get spleen weakness, but this is a definite link between the child and the
parent. It's interesting what happens if the Qi doesn't descend and the source of Qi
stays up in the chest. The bad effects as far as the mother is concerned is that she can
get mastitis, and in severe cases even cancer, due to stagnation of Qi. They've got this
love which they want to pour out to somebody and there's nobody there to receive it,
so it gets stuck in the chest.
Peter: So you're saying that the kind of love the parent gives the child has to change as
the child gets older, and if the parent can't develop to that stage it can create problems
for the parent.
Julian: It can create problems for the parent and for the child. If the Qi remains
stagnant in the mother's chest it can easily become stagnant in the child's chest too,
because they're living in the same house, and this can be a source of asthma. You can
see this in everyday life as a smothering love. We've all experienced this in being
crushed against auntie's bosom - it's a terrifying experience. I've come to understand
this from seeing parents and children in distress. What's interesting is that you can feel
it on the pulse. If the child is in distress you will feel the mother's pulse very strong
near the bone on both sides, corresponding to the Qi in the chest - strong and slippery.
Peter: Can you tell me about any other things you have found?
Julian: There's some other weird things that I find - I suppose they're rather
controversial - for example birth itself. It's actually such a privilege to be in a position
to see a baby so soon after it's been born - to be continually in the presence of a mother
with a child. One of the odd things which comes up is that children who are very much
wanted by the parents, for one reason or another, or children that are planned, often
seem to come out less healthy. They seem to be dragged into the world by the action of
the parents at a time when they're not really ready for it. I'm thinking of one child
where the mother wanted and wanted the child, and finally when the child came its
energy was really weak. But they had already had two children before, that were not
planned. The stork came uninvited for those two and they were fine, but this one who
came to order as it were, came before it was really ready. I've seen this several times
now, and it's very peculiar. To me it shows the extraordinary perversity of the world,
that the children who come when they're not really wanted are the healthy ones, but
then you make them unhealthy because they're not really wanted, and the children
who are desperately wanted come in not so healthy. The other thing I've learnt is about
causes of disease - it's something that is not really mentioned in the books about
treating adults, but is mentioned in treating children, and that's the pathogenic factor
remaining which I talked about before. Often at about the age of seven some recurrent
disease such as tonsillitis or bronchitis appears to go - the child becomes much
stronger, but very often the pathogenic factor is still there and can stay for the rest of
somebody's life. In the healthy years, in the twenties and thirties it will show probably
just as a restlessness, or a character trait - maybe they're just rather lethargic people or
over-active and rather pushing and aggressive personalities. You might think that it's
just their personality, which it may be, but very often you can trace it back to a febrile
disease in childhood. In later years it may give rise to all manner of diseases - yin-xu
problems, damp problems, arthritis and so on.
Peter: So effective treatment of children is very important for the life of the adult.
Coming now to your plans for the future, how do you see the future development of
the children's clinic. What would you like to see?
Julian: Well I'd like to see it open for seven days a week, twenty-four hours a day, but
that's not going to happen in the short term. I'd love to see an acupuncture hospital. I
think acupuncture is ideal for hospitals. Its action is so quick you can get in there and
do something. Even if you're not absolutely sure of the diagnosis, you can do
something and that will give you some breathing space. Very often you can cure acute
problems almost instantly with acupuncture. But there are many steps before a
hospital can happen. Not least we have to train many people in the treatment of
children by acupuncture.

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