Shi and Xu type children – Simon Altman, BHSc (acupuncture)

Over the last year I have had the amazing opportunity to learn from Julian Scott who is an expert in the field of paediatrics.  Julian Scott specialises in treating children and eye conditions in the United Kingdom. He also wrote the first book in English on the treatment of children with acupuncture and dietary advice following his paediatric training in China.  He is an amazing wealth of knowledge and clinical experience.


When children come into the clinic they fall into two main types of children, these are known in Chinese as Shi or Xu and in English this can be translated as Full or Empty.  The Full types are more exuberant children that are Full of energy, whilst the Empty types simply do not have enough energy within their systems, however they can still have that active energy that all children display.


These two types of children are not clinical conditions within themselves, they are simply different types of children.  Everyone will have a mixture of Full or Empty symptoms and will often go through life without too many illnesses.   When a child comes into the clinic it is important to distinguish and differentiate the Full children from the Empty children as this will change how you administer a treatment.  Generally speaking children presenting as Shi/Full types will get Full symptoms, whilst the Xu/Empty type children will get Empty symptoms.


The Shi and Xu types of children are not descriptions of ill children, they are the types of children you commonly see.  However, when a Shi or Xu child becomes ill they often follow certain patterns according to the Full or Empty nature of the child.


Shi – Full Xu – Empty
Strong, sturdy Floppy
Alert Frail
Eyes open and Inquisitive Eyes Dull
Very often red cheeks Pale
Lots of Energy Needs lots of sleep
May make a nuisance of themselves Easily Tired by physical exercise
Good Appetite (eats everything) Poor Appetite or Choosey over food
Difficult to ignore Arms and Legs are thin
Pains and emotions are intense Weak Cry with no force behind it



Generally speaking Xu/Empty children need more rest and nourishment to replenish their systems whilst Shi/Full type children need more regulation or dispersion of the Fullness.  Some conditions can fall into both the Full and Empty categories, children with digestive issues is one example that can be both Shi or Xu.   The Full type children often find that if they eat too much the digestive system becomes so over loaded that the food accumulates and is not digested properly.  In contrast, the Empty children do not have enough digestive energies to process the food and will eat small quantities of food or become picky because the food is too much for their weaker digestion.


Both of these examples can lead to digestion issues and it is important to differentiate the two before you treat a child.  This allows a practitioner to truly individualise or tailor a treatment to each child and the general advice to help alleviate a condition.  For instance, Empty children will benefit from moxibustion (the heating of acupuncture points) as it adds energy into the deficient system, whilst Full children can benefit from massage/acupressure or acupuncture to move and disperse the Fullness.


Shonishin is more commonly known as Japanese Paediatric (or children’s) Acupuncture and it literally translates as “Children’s Needle”.   Both Traditional Chinese and Japanese acupuncturists have been treating children for centuries.  The Shonishin system is often needle-less and involves using tools to massage and press specific areas of the body.  Shonishin can treat children up to about 12 or 13 years old in a gentle, comfortable and caring manner, with the child remaining calm and reducing any stress for both the child and parents.


Simon is available for consultation at Mornington Chinese Medicine on Monday, Friday and Saturday.

If you would like to book an appointment, please call us on ph: 5973 6886