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Acupuncture/post chemo/rad damage to salivary glands


Hello Michael, I am an acupuncturist in California and was surfing for help on a patient when I found a posting from H.Vandeburg on a related subject. I will however direct my question to you since your profile indicates knowledge with chemo/rad side effects.

I have a patient who is suffering from damage to her salivary glands as a result of chemo/rad therapy.  Her particular symptom is copious amounts of thick saliva. In addition she cannot swallow very well due to a constricted esophagus.

I have avoided using the auricular salivary gland points or any point indicated to increase saliva because I thought it might give her more thick saliva.

Your advice would be greatly appreciated.

Thank You

Karen -

I have had two patients with similar presentations.  One had associated swallowing difficulties and that was treated using Heart and Spleen channel points based on the theoretical branching of these channels to the base of the tongue; choosing a Kidney channel point might have been equally useful, but quite honestly I didn't think of this obvious choice at the time.  The other patient was treated using a neuro-anatomical approach taking advantage of the wide distribution of the stellate ganglion in a manner similar to treating hyperhydrosis.  The points used to stimulate (and thereby sedate) the stellate ganglion were:  Ding Chuan, LI4, SI3, and Hua tou points at C5.  Both approaches helped the patients.  I also had a patient with advanced tonsilar cancer who had great difficulty swallowing secondary to radiation and surgery.  She had some relief from the simple combination of LI4 and SI3 (just two needles opposite sides.)

I agree with your decision to avoid the auricular saliva points.  They might be useful in something like Sjogren's syndrome.

I wish you and your patient well in this situation.  

Malama pono - - -

Mike Zanoni


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Michael M. Zanoni, MS, LAc


I am knowledgeable about severe and chronic pain from musculoskeletal or neurological conditions, especially trauma, headache, and fibromyalgia. I can provide guidance that will assist healing and recovery after illness or surgery. I have a particular interest in long-term chronic conditions that are becoming progressively worse or intermittently severe (such as viral hepatitis, Crohn's, or Takayasu syndrome.) I have extensive experience treating endocrine disorders, such as diabetes or thyroid problems, where the primary condition is being monitored by a Western-trained physician, and cancer where there are specific treatment goals other than cure (e.g., decrease of pain; reduction of side effects of radiation and chemotherapy; lessening of edema; palliative treatment of associated conditions.) I do not treat or answer questions about infertility, ALS, or senile dementia.


I have practiced Oriental medicine for over sixteen years in a variety of settings. Much of my practice has centered around a busy clinic specializing in severe long-term chronic pain conditions and palliative care. For several years I worked in a hospice program. I also established a non-profit community clinic providing care to under-served and homeless patients. My work has found me in an HIV clinic in San Francisco, a busy private practice in Oregon, to traveling on muddy 4-wheel drive roads to see dying patients. I now teach acupuncture and Oriental medicine at a school in Hawaii.

My training was at the American College of Traditional Chinese Medicine in San Francisco where I received a masterís degree in Chinese Medicine. I have current board certifications in Oriental Medicine, Acupuncture, and Chinese Herbology from the National Certification Commission for Acupuncture and Oriental Medicine. I also have certifications in Chinese tui na bodywork, Physical Rehabilitation Training, and biofeedback. I am licensed to practice acupuncture and Oriental medicine in Hawaii, Oregon, and Washington. I also have BA, MS, and PhD degrees in subjects not directly related to Oriental medicine.

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