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Acupuncture/Post cancer and bone marrow transplant


Hi Michael,

I have had intense chemotherapy and a bone marrow transplant. After the transplant I have had numerous issues with each organ going a bit haywire, menopause, excessive dampness, and a host of other issues.

My question is: with something as severe as a bone marrow transplant, is there help? I have had so many issues ranging from steroids, my blood type has changed, steroid induced diabetes (which has now moved on), weight gain, rheumatoid arthritis, neuropathy and stagnation. I have tried several acupuncturists and I feel like they don't quite "get" what I have been through, nor do they quite know how to treat me, like where to start. I do see someone who practices Japanese acupuncture, moxa my belly and feet everyday, but I just don't feel like there is much progress. I have changed my diet to an anti-damp diet, which has helped, but still feel frustrated. Where do I start? How to heal?

Dear Anne -

I am so very sorry that this extreme challenge found you.  I have had patients who made the journey through similar situations, and the word "struggle" is the only thing that seemed appropriate to describe their recovery.

Since you are not in front of me right now, I can only respond to your questions in general terms.  

Most acupuncturists are trained to see things in terms of a polarity:  Hot or Cold, Damp or Dry, Interior or Exterior, Excess or Deficient.  The problem is, your situation does not exactly fit into these paradigms because you will no doubt be showing a complex mixed-picture of mutually exclusive signs and symptoms.

Acupuncture can be helpful - both in helping you heal and in reducing the amount of stress that you experience.  The error that the average practitioner would make in your situation is to see it as a condition of Excess or Deficiency.  You may be showing signs of both, and depending on what they were at a particular time the practitioner might choose to Tonify or Sedate your energy system.  Neither approach will actually be helpful since what you most likely need is Harmonization.  (I use situations like yours as case studies to drop trick questions on my students.)

I actually have a needling pattern that I use in situations where someone has these multiple system involvements as you do; you can share these with the acupuncturist your are seeing now.  The treatment goal is "Harmonize the San Jiao."  The points that I use are:  SJ5L, GB40R, LI4R, K3L, ST36R, GB34L.  At the next treatment, the R/L is reversed.  Once or twice a week I also do the "Five needle technique" auricular pattern in one ear.

In terms of an herbal formula I won't make a suggestion because each case is so different.

Frustration is normal:  after all, you most likely feel at war with your body and the attempts towards healing.  You are probably doing a lot better than you think, and are no doubt very tired.

Again, I am so sorry that this is happening to you.  Please forgive me if I was not able to provide useful comments.  Don't hesitate to send a follow-up question if you want me to expand on something.

I wish you well - - -

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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