In Traditional Chinese medicine (TCM) there exists a concept called mother-child. This is the idea that a mother and a child cannot be dealt with separately with regards to their health. Beyond pregnancy, beyond the original physical bond between mother and child there is the continued existence of mixed qi (chi or vital energy) for many years. This mixing of energy is true for anyone who comes in contact with a young child but as mothers we have a particularly powerful influence over the health of our children. When I first read about this concept it hit me hard how we have entirely missed this simple common sense principle with Western pediatrics. Likely because it is difficult to test and there is no money to be made with the results. But if you are willing to make this jump, that a mother’s energy can affect a child’s health on an intuitive basis, a world of healing can open to both physician and mothers alike. I’m up writing this tonight because I believe this principle blended with other holistic concepts helped us stave off an illness.
In TCM Children are susceptible to external pathogens much like they are in Western medicine. I will use this recent pathogen as an example. Julien (my 4 year old) woke 2 days ago with sore throat and fussiness. Our nanny has had something similar prior to him and so have loads of kids I’ve seen at work. Clearly there is a physical virus at play. My first impulse was to soothe his pain with ibuprofen but as I have learned from my study of TCM this is one more thing an already deficient body must clear and so I made him warm tea with honey and boosted him with Gaia Kids Immune Support. With TCM the most common reason a pathogen takes hold rather than being expelled is that the child is somehow qi deficient. We had just taken an exciting camping trip and came home wore out. So I gave him a warm breakfast and kept him more bundled than usual to prevent further invasion from the cold weather that had come in. With the concept of mother-child I have learned that I have the ability to donate qi (healing energy) to my suffering child. I can do this by snuggling, reading, singing and simply being present and nurturing. Of course I had to go to work but I encouraged the nanny to do the same. Cue the crushing feeling of leaving my sick child to go to work.
So today I was off work and J started to develop a low fever. Where normally we would lay in bed and watch shows snuggling we had very minimal television. TCM states that TV drains kids. Again these are things that we may all know instinctively but I have never seen them applied to a viral illness. So no TV, no ibuprofen, instead we just read books and did some light drawing and importantly we snuggled and took a nap! I had to bribe him as he is NOT a napper. Throughout all of this I stayed focused on the concept of giving to him with the purpose of healing/boosting him up. I laid with him and gently rubbed his back and interestingly he told me that it was helping him feel better. He sweated intensely during his nap and woke up fever free. Then his dad surprised us and came home early from work and poured more love into him. Julien had been missing him intensely since the short vacation ended. My husband is a resident. Kids of residents can always use extra qi/loving.
According to TCM as parents we can actually donate energy (qi) to our children when they are deficient to help them heal…if we have extra. There are times in our lives where we are so depleted that we can barely function ourselves let alone have extra for others. I’ve been there as well. There is no perfection in mothering. There is simply this moment wherever we are. It isn’t as though prior to studying TCM I would have simply ignored my sick child. Awareness is powerful though as well as intention. My clear intention was to pour qi into Julien for healing purposes and to boost his own. In the end there is no doubt that he has immunity to this strain of virus. However thanks to TCM I now have a better framework of what immunity is and how I can play a conscious part in it for my child’s health.
One thought on “TCM Mother-Child: A personal experience”
Over the years I have learned that a mothers T-cells can be transferred to the child if there is close enough, often enough contact (breastfeeding infants/toddlers, skin-to-skin, kissing, hugging, breathing in the same air, massaging.) I believe we all know this instinctively since we want to cuddle with our loved ones when we’re sick. But now that the kids are grown I find they might bring home sickness I can’t help them as much with. When they are on the later end of a sickness and manage to give it to me, they then help me get over it.
Nutrionally, keeping a healthy gut biome has been key to improving our overall immune responses. This helps the “loving” work better.