Chemotherapy Side Effects: Acupuncture Reduces Infection Risk

Cancer treatment with chemotherapy results in many unwanted side effects.  Acupuncture is a powerful therapy for managing chemotherapy side effects. One of the most common chemotherapy side effects is suppression of the bone marrow which is where life giving and vital immune blood cells are produced.  When levels of white blood cells drop, natural immunity is compromised and the result is increased risk of infections. In numerous studies acupuncture has been shown to effectively and rapidly increase levels of white blood cells, thus boosting immunity and reducing risk of infections.

Acupuncture treatment results in normal and highly functional infection fighting white blood cells.  Acupuncture treatment is a very effective way to insure robust resistance to infections.

This means that cuts and wounds heal without infection. Not only is there improved resistance to colds, flus but also protection from more dangerous and life threatening infections such as pneumonia, meningitis, multi drug resistant staph aureus (flesh eating bacteria), to name a few.

In an era in which overuse of antibiotics has caused many infectious organisms to become resistant to antibiotic drug therapy, boosting natural immunity with safe and non toxic methods such as acupuncture become even more meaningful and important. Furthermore, patients not only receive acupuncture treatments in the clinical setting, but can also stimulate specific points at home on their own between acupuncture treatments. This allows the supportive immune therapy to continue on a daily basis. Patients are able to stimulate points that support white blood cell production and thus manage chemotherapy side effects with acupressure (deep massage of acupoints) and heat therapy on acupoints on their own.

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In the acupuncture clinic, traditional acupuncture heat therapy, or moxabustion therapy is done using direct or indirect heat on acupoints or by warming the acupuncture needles. At home, I instruct patients to warm points indirectly with an incense stick or moxabustion herbal roll.

Any patient with compromised immunity, not only cancer patients undergoing chemotherapy, but anyone seeking to boost immunity can apply acupressure or heat therapy to specific acupoints.

The traditional acupoints now supported by modern research are St. 36, Su San Li, LI 11 Gu Qi, and Ren(CV)6 Qi Hai. Acupuncture charts and Acupuncture textbooks describe exact acupoint locations.

I show my patients how to simply and accurately locate these points anatomically and how to apply acupressure and heat therapy, thus empowering them to participate in their own care and wellbeing with drug free, safe and scientifically supported immune stimulating therapies. Long after cancer treatment and chemotherapy have been completed, cancer survivors can continue to support their own immune robustness on their own at home. Traditionally, in China, applying heat therapy (moxabustion) to Acupoint St. 36 Su San Li was done on a regular basis for longevity. The ancient Chinese doctors observed that the stimulation of this point improved the health and longevity of their patients.  Modern research has discovered that this point powerfully increases natural immunity by promoting the production of white blood cells. Among these white blood cells are a specialized cells called Natural Killer cells. These are the cells which fight infections and cancer.


Modern research has also demonstrated that many Chinese Herbal Medicines support the production of white blood cells. The most famous and effective herb for this purpose is Astragalus Root which can be made into a tea, taken as an extract or cooked into soups. Studies also show that the North American herbal medicine, Echinacea Root (E. angustifolia and E. purpura) also supports the normal production of white blood cells. Both Astragalus Root and Echinacea Root have also been shown to promote an anti-cancer physiology.

Clearly Acupuncture and Herbal Medicines offer safe, non toxic therapies to manage chemotherapy side effects of cancer treatment and boost overall immunity for cancer patients and cancer survivors.

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