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Getting To The Point with Carrie Crimin

Carrie Crimin is a Pediatric Acupuncturist and Pediatric Nurse. She sat down with Dr. Stafford to talk about her path from being a nurse to practicing acupuncture, and they dive into a variety of topics related to acupuncture for kids.

Learn everything you need to know about Carrie and Little Owl Medicine on her lovely website:

Topics discussed in this episode:

  • What is acupuncture

  • Transitioning from a nursing career into acupuncture

  • What acupuncture looks like for kids

  • What acupuncture can treat

  • Acupuncture and digestion

  • Typical first wellness visit

  • Addressing sleep issues

  • How acupuncture looks at oral health

  • Approaching kids who are not the most excited to be receiving acupuncture

  • Strategies for calming down

Listen, read, watch! You can listen right here, or with a podcast app of your choice. You can also read the complete transcript below, or scroll to the bottom of this post for the video.

You can browse all previous episodes on Anchor and Youtube!



Dr. Stafford: Hi, it's Dr. Michelle Stafford here with our podcast, Mixed Dentition. Today, my special guest is Carrie Crimin of a Little Owl Medicine, who specializes in acupuncture for children and families.

Dr. Stafford: Welcome, Carrie, to the show.

Carrie Crimin: Hi.

Dr. Stafford: I think we should start with the basics. Can you define for our audience, what is acupuncture?

Carrie Crimin: Acupuncture is using the systems that are already in the body to help the body heal. In Chinese medicine, we talk about there being channels and points all over your body at different areas. Along the channels are the points, and the points are like pools of energy.

Carrie Crimin: If an adult goes to an acupuncturist and they put needles in certain spots in your body, those spots are those little pools of energy. You can think of it like a river and little eddies or little areas that the water may circulate and hold. When you access those points, it helps to network with other areas in the body and move that energy along in the way that it needs to.

Dr. Stafford: Oh, interesting. That's really interesting. Your background, you were telling me, is as a nurse.

Carrie Crimin: Mm-hmm (affirmative).

Dr. Stafford: How did you make the transition into becoming an acupuncturist?

Carrie Crimin: I'm a pediatric nurse and I found that being in the hospital, which I love, you often get boxed into this set way of thinking and this one way of doing things. I'd always been interested in herbal medicine or looking at things a different way, so it made sense to make that move into a more alternative way of looking at healing the body than we look at it in Western medicine.

Dr. Stafford: Yeah, that's really great. Tell me more about, specifically, how acupuncture works for children. I imagine when you say you're a child acupuncturist, I mean, I've had acupuncture before, so I'm familiar with the needles and I bet the reaction people get was like, "Oh, I don't want to do needles on my kid. I'll never take that." Describe how that's different for children.

Carrie Crimin: The first thing, generally, that a parent will say to me, when we're talking about acupuncture, and I say, "Oh, I specialize in acupuncture for kids," or they're talking about their child and they say, "Oh, we could do these things." They say, "Oh, acupuncture is great, but my child would never go for that. They would never sit there for those needles."

Carrie Crimin: And so, I get to say that we don't actually have to do needles. There are, actually, modalities that are specific for children. There's a Japanese style called Shoni-Shin that I use a lot and you don't need to use needles. Needles are not the goal.

Dr. Stafford: Interesting.

Carrie Crimin: They're not the end goal. You can use them, but we often don't. Shoni-Shin utilizes tiny tools that tap and stroke and stimulate different parts of the body, the channels. There's this, like I was saying before, there's this networking that happens in the body. In children, the points aren't really that developed, because children are always growing and changing. And so, it's unrealistic to think like, "Oh well, they have all these set points like adults do and everything is where it's supposed to be," and that's not actually the case.

Carrie Crimin: We really work on those foundational pieces and that means that we work on building up the channels and righting them if they're wrong. Say, if your child has anxiety or digestive issues or sleep issues or allergies, we focus on the channels that correspond with those things and help them to work the way they're supposed to work and then, it builds a better foundation for the child. You fix them from the building blocks instead of going at it top down, so it's like bottom up.

Dr. Stafford: Oh, interesting. What are some other instances why families would come see you for acupuncture?

Carrie Crimin: Pretty much any reason that you would take your child to the doctor, other than emergency.

Dr. Stafford: Right.

Carrie Crimin: Definitely don't do that. You could bring your child to an acupuncturist for, like I said, digestive issues, sleep, anxiety, or anything that falls into mental health, allergies, asthma, eczema ... let's see, what else? Headaches ...

Dr. Stafford: Oh, that's really great to know.

Carrie Crimin: ... and pain, that's another I was ... adults often think of acupuncture for pain. We have a lot of children now that are in all sorts of sports and using their bodies in repetitive motions and in repetitive ways where they didn't before, so they end up sometimes having pain. Acupuncture helps quite a bit with that too.

Dr. Stafford: Oh, that's really great, great information. What age group do you normally see children?

Carrie Crimin: I see children anywhere from infant to 18.

Dr. Stafford: Oh, wow. Great.

Carrie Crimin: Or if they want to continue, sometimes kiddos will keep coming back when they get old enough to make their own decision or any decision on their own. When I see the little ones, I'm seeing them for colic or sleeping. The new families, I do breastfeeding support.

Dr. Stafford: Oh, great.

Carrie Crimin: That's really what is going on with the new ones. In Chinese medicine we look, especially for children, the digestion is key. It is often the root of many issues that kids come for. If somebody comes in, one of the things that we talk about the most is, how is their digestion? Then we go from there like, what do they eat? How do they eat it? What temperature foods do they like? What are their poops like? Everyone loves that.

Dr. Stafford: I can imagine.

Carrie Crimin: We can't get enough, so we talk a lot about that. Those are all really important things for us to know about.

Dr. Stafford: Describe for our audience a typical first visit. Let's say I bring my five-year-old to you for a wellness visit. What does that look like?

Carrie Crimin: Coming in, one of the best ways ... I love kids, so we definitely, aside from a full intake from the parents, as far as, like I just said, how's digestion? How was the birth, how has their childhood been? Did they meet milestones? Where did they struggle? What are their struggles? What's their personality like? What is their temperature like?

Carrie Crimin: There's all these things that may seem like small, insignificant information, but it definitely adds to the big picture. Chinese medicine is a big-picture medicine, and so we get to look at the whole thing, which is one of the things that I love about it is that I don't just have to look at the one compartment, I can look at everything and pull on all of that information. While we're doing that with the intake with the parent, I'll also be watching the child and connecting with the kids.

Carrie Crimin: Kids love to play, so we have a lot of like, we have play things at the office and we have a humongous beanbag that, I think, every child that comes in there puts it on one end of the room, the big great room in the front, run across the room and they land in it, everybody does that. Play is one of the best ways that I can assess that child and see what's going on. We have all sorts of ways to connect with the child and see what they are like and how they interact. Then that gives me a good idea of what areas to have a focus that I may want to be looking at.

Dr. Stafford: Oh, that's really great. What about for a child that the parent comes because the child has sleep issues, like they're still not sleeping through the night and they're in toddlerhood?

Carrie Crimin: Yes, yes.

Dr. Stafford: How would that appointment differ or what kind of support do you provide for that kind of family?

Carrie Crimin: After we do, like I said, the beginning part, we do a bunch of talking and we do some playing or talking with the kid or we draw, all of those things, then we start to go towards the treatment. I usually take time and show the child the tools that we'll be using.

Dr. Stafford: Great.

Carrie Crimin: There is, it's kind of hard on a podcast to show exactly what we would be doing, but the treatment is whole body. Usually, we're using the different types of tools. Like I said, there was tools for some tapping, scraping. Scraping sounds bad, but it's like a little brush, almost. The tools are really easy.

Carrie Crimin: The thing that the kids say the most is that they tickle, so we do it on the arms. We do both arms, both legs, chest, tummy, back, backs of legs and head. It's like we go through the entire thing and, if we're doing a general wellness, it can be very general and it can be very specific to what that child needs and what those issues are. Like you said, for sleep issues.

Carrie Crimin: There are definitely areas that I would be working on for that. If your child had a hard time falling asleep, then I would be doing different things than if your child woke often.

Dr. Stafford: Got it.

Carrie Crimin: All of that is very ... the differentiation between the issues guides the treatment.

Dr. Stafford: Right. That's great. I know Chinese medicine talks about the mouth too and as pediatric dentists we have to talked about that.

Carrie Crimin: Yes. Totally, the mouth.

Dr. Stafford: Do you look at the mouth and the tongue and gather information?

Carrie Crimin: Mm-hmm (affirmative).

Dr. Stafford: Oh, tell me more.

Carrie Crimin: Yes. Well, you see tongues all day long.

Dr. Stafford: I do.

Carrie Crimin: So do I. The tongue gives us a big view into what's going on in the body. Everyone always wants to know what I'm looking at when I look at your tongue. What I'm looking at is, it reinforces the information that has been given to me. Or someone could say all these things and then I look at their tongue and I'm like, "What are they not telling me? There are things that they are not telling me."

Dr. Stafford: Interesting.

Carrie Crimin: Or there are things that, there may be more going on than what they may even recognize in their body. Adults, it's more like that but, sometimes-

Dr. Stafford: Great.

Carrie Crimin: ... I am surprised at when a kiddo puts his tongue out for me that ... because, normally, I don't know if you want this information or not-

Dr. Stafford: Yeah, yeah.

Carrie Crimin: ... but normally, you're tongue is pink, it doesn't really have much of a coat, slightly moist, but not like ... it's what your tongue should look like. It's always surprising when a kiddo has a really dry tongue, that tells me things. Or if it's really puffy or if it has a really thick coat. Those are all things that we're looking for.

Dr. Stafford: So interesting.

Carrie Crimin: Yeah.

Dr. Stafford: Makes me want to look at tongues. When I see a dry tongue, I think, "Oh, dehydration."

Carrie Crimin: Right. Yeah.

Dr. Stafford: I'm thinking, "Oh, here, have some more water to drink." Drink [crosstalk 00:13:00] my chair.

Carrie Crimin: Yeah, right?

Dr. Stafford: Right.

Carrie Crimin: Yeah.

Dr. Stafford: So interesting.

Carrie Crimin: I mean, the mouth is the beginning of the digestive system.

Dr. Stafford: It is.

Carrie Crimin: It is a pretty big key as far as what's going on.

Dr. Stafford: Carrie, I'm sure you have experiences where kids come into your office and, perhaps, aren't interested in what you're providing.

Carrie Crimin: Yes.

Dr. Stafford: What do you do in those cases?

Carrie Crimin: In those cases, I try and keep it really light. Generally, the parents are not happy with the way the child is not wanting the treatment. And so, we'll try and, again, use play and really bring the child into the treatment. Sometimes, if they've brought a stuffed animal with them or we pick something that I have at the clinic, we can do acupuncture on that first and then it's a back and forth.

Dr. Stafford: Right.

Carrie Crimin: Or I let the child lead and I say, especially if it's a kiddo that I've seen before, I'm like, "Okay, pick your tools and then pick three things that we're going to do today." Then, I just try and maximize my treatment time and what I'm doing with them. That generally get some through that day because, a lot of times, people are coming either after school or in the middle of a busy day.

Dr. Stafford: Yeah, that's so hard. Yeah.

Carrie Crimin: It's really ...

Dr. Stafford: Kids don't always do great towards the end of the day.

Carrie Crimin: They don't, and it's hard because, what I'm doing is very ... it is regulating and relaxing often but, sometimes, they're so amped up that they don't want that at that time. And so, you have to figure out a way to give them the treatment that they need while letting them be in charge of it.

Dr. Stafford: Right, and that can be challenging.

Carrie Crimin: Yes, it can be. You probably deal with that all the time.

Dr. Stafford: I do. We try to keep our little ones to the mornings, when the kids are fresh, I think they do a little bit better.

Carrie Crimin: They do. They do a lot better.

Dr. Stafford: Yeah, they do. For our parents out there, I know for myself, sometimes, the kids are just like, "Whoo," they're just having a crazy day. Usually, my go-to is to put them outside in the backyard, because I know they just need to run off their energy but, can you provide ... you'll have to describe to our listeners, various points or things that you can do to try and give them some calming and, perhaps before bed, what can we do to help calm our children?

Carrie Crimin: Well, for bedtime, I'll talk about a couple of points, but routine, as everyone hears all the time, routine helps a lot. As much as you can keep that routine the same-

Dr. Stafford: Absolutely.

Carrie Crimin: ... that helps. When we talk about what a good routine is, before bed, I often will send parents home with homework, I call it homework. It's a massage. I have handouts that I give out that are specific massages based on what is going on with their child. I will send parents away with those things and then they can do them. Ideally, it's every day if they can, but sometimes, even a couple of times a week is really helpful.

Dr. Stafford: That's great.

Carrie Crimin: Some points for calming down and winding down at the end of the day. The first one that I love is right between your eyebrows, so where your eyebrows meet in the middle, there's that in-between area on your forehead. If you have your child lie down and then, using your thumb, stroke upward. Alternate-

Dr. Stafford: Oh, I used to do that to my boys when they were infants and it would help them fall asleep.

Carrie Crimin: Right?

Dr. Stafford: Yeah.

Carrie Crimin: You already know. Both thumbs and you can just do it ... it's really calming.

Dr. Stafford: Oh, that's great.

Carrie Crimin: Yes, it's a great spot.

Dr. Stafford: I haven't really tried it since they were older. Now I'm going to go home tonight and try it. I love that.

Carrie Crimin: Yeah, do it. It's a wonderful spot. It is an acupuncture point and it is part of the massage that you do. There's another point on your foot. In between your big toe and your second toe-

Dr. Stafford: I'm going to get my toe out now. Anybody watching, here comes my toe.

Carrie Crimin: You've got your big toe and your second toe and then, if you go right in between them where they meet, where your foot starts, slide your finger back until you feel where the bones meet. In between there, there's a fleshy area, because there's no bones there. If you go all the way back to where the bones meet and then slide forward just a little bit, there's a bit of a groove there.

Dr. Stafford: Oh yeah. I feel that. [inaudible 00:17:47] on it. Am I all right to sleep?

Carrie Crimin: Yes. You're just going to feel so much better.

Dr. Stafford: I do already.

Carrie Crimin: The forehead one will put you to sleep, this one will just make you calm down.

Dr. Stafford: I like that.

Carrie Crimin: You just push on this, both feet.

Dr. Stafford: No, that's great.

Carrie Crimin: Yeah.

Dr. Stafford: Oh, I like that. I'm going to try that out on my kids today.

Carrie Crimin: Yes, do it. Those are actually my two favorite sleep ones.

Dr. Stafford: Oh, that's wonderful. Well, thank you for that. [crosstalk 00:18:09]

Carrie Crimin: You're welcome. The one on your foot is also, my daughter used to have a hard time falling asleep. Sleep time is really big for worries and that point is really good for worries.

Dr. Stafford: That will be good for my oldest, I'm going to calm him down tonight.

Carrie Crimin: Yes.

Dr. Stafford: His little feet, he's going to love it.

Carrie Crimin: He will love it.

Dr. Stafford: He likes being massaged.

Carrie Crimin: There you go.

Dr. Stafford: I think he's going to love it. That's awesome. Well, Carrie, any other tips or advice that you'd like to share with our audience today?

Carrie Crimin: I think that, let's see, just letting parents know that there are a lot of ways to help their child heal.

Dr. Stafford: Yes.

Carrie Crimin: It doesn't have to be just one way. I think my biggest message for families, and what I like to tell people, is that the more things you have in your basket, the better. I love Western medicine and I love Eastern medicine and there are amazing things in both.

Dr. Stafford: Yes, that's great. I think the more people you have on your team to help your children, because it really does take a village.

Carrie Crimin: It does take a village.

Dr. Stafford: [inaudible 00:19:18], Yes. That's great. Well, Carrie, thank you for coming in today.

Carrie Crimin: Thank you for having me.

Dr. Stafford: I appreciate it. A Little Owl Medicine and excellent website. I've seen your website and you have a little ... We didn't even talk about herbal medicine. Maybe you'll have to come back again to talk about herbal medicine.

Carrie Crimin: Oh, I would love that.

Dr. Stafford: I saw that on your website as well.

Carrie Crimin: Yes, we do. Kids can do or use herbs too.

Dr. Stafford: [crosstalk 00:19:41] for you. Mm-hmm?

Carrie Crimin: Yeah.

Dr. Stafford: Yeah. That's wonderful.

Carrie Crimin: Next time.

Dr. Stafford: Okay. For our listeners out there, remember to fill the world with smiles!



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