The Daily Use of Moxibustion to Treat Chemotherapy Induced Bone Marrow Depression; A practical evaluation based on 20 years of clinical experience

Acupuncture and moxibustion, although not potent enough to act as first line cancer treatments, are powerful tools to support conventional cancer therapy, including surgery, chemotherapy and radiotherapy. In the experience of the author, they can render these interventions better tolerated by patients and lead to more successful treatment outcomes. In particular, they play a significant role in alleviating, and in some cases preventing, the side effects of chemotherapy. This paper focuses on a treatment protocol developed by the author, in which patients and their helpers are taught how to use daily moxibustion at home during chemotherapy. Moxa is used at the acupuncture points Geshu BL‑17, Ganshu BL‑18 and Pishu BL‑20 in order to prevent leukopenia, the dropping of the white blood cell and neutrophil counts (also known as neutropenia). This treatment also helps to prevent anaemia and thrombocytopenia (a drop in the platelet count). The four terms in italics above are also known as pancytopenia, or bone marrow depression. This paper discusses the rationale for using this regimen, and whether it is contraindicated to apply moxibustion during chemotherapy. It also explores some of the technical issues to consider when teaching patients and their helpers how to use moxibustion at home. The article ends with a few selected case histories.

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