Acupuncture for Teens and Young Adults

I like treating teenagers for a number of reasons, but top of the list is that I appreciate the fact that they ask so many questions about their treatments and acupuncture in general. I am often asked various versions of “What would happen if you needled all the points at once?” (Answer: I’d spend a lot of money on needles and there would be no comfortable way for you to sit, stand, or lie down.) Interestingly, the teens I treat are almost never bothered by the needles themselves.

I think their willingness to ask these questions, even when they seem silly, is part of why teens respond so well to acupuncture for so many different conditions including:

  • Headaches, including migraines
  • Pain and sports injuries
  • Hormone regulation
  • Anxiety, stress and depression
  • Eating disorders
  • Allergies
  • Skin issues
  • Digestive issues

There’s a lot happening for teenagers on all three levels: body, mind, and spirit. As adults we tend to think of being a teenager as a time of confusion, fraught with emotional ups and downs, physical disequilibrium, and hormonal upheaval. Teens think of being a teenager as…well…life.

This is not to say that the teens I treat and talk to don’t find life confusing and frustrating at times; they do and their frustrations are real and should be taken seriously. Adults, however, tend to think of teenagers as believing they know everything better than adults. This is where adults are wrong. The teens I know don’t believe that at all. What they do believe is that adults are weird for accepting everything as it is. They are trying to make sense the world and their place in it, so they ask a lot of questions and argue all the time.

As teens begin to sort through the world and their place in it, they begin to set patterns they will keep through adulthood. Acupuncture can help teens set good patterns in the following ways:

  • Addressing and reducing injuries
    • As we see teenagers becoming more active through the resumption of organized sports and other activities, I am already seeing more sports injuries of various levels of severity. Addressing these injuries, along with the regular aches and pains associated with growing can help reduce future injuries, which allows and encourages an active life through adulthood.
  • Reducing Stress
    • This is a big one as the COVID-19 pandemic has been particularly hard on children and teens. Fortunately, patients report that their acupuncture treatments are relaxing and part of my job as a practitioner is to help my patients find ways to retain that relaxation as they go through their life outside of the treatment room via practices such as meditation, qi gong, yoga, or regular exercise. This will help reduce stress, improve sleep and can provide a lot of support for hormonal regulation. Some of the same lessons that go into reducing stress also help with body awareness and vice-versa.
  • Developing Body Awareness.
    • Acupuncture helps patients of all ages to develop a physical awareness of how various more situations, emotional responses, actions and even foods affect them. This helps teens build a sense of ownership and responsibility for their physical self (and respect for those of others). This awareness is important to maintaining a teenager’s safety and wellness into adulthood..