Limiting chemotherapy side effects by using moxa

  • Research type

    Research Study

  • Full title

    Using daily self-administered indirect moxibustion to Zusanli ST-36 to reduce chemotherapy-induced pancytopenia: a feasibility study



  • Contact name

    Beverley de Valois

  • Contact email

  • Sponsor organisation

    East & North Herts NHS Trust including Mount Vernon Cancer Centre

  • Duration of Study in the UK

    1 years, 5 months, 27 days

  • Research summary

    Chemotherapy drugs are used to treat cancer cells. However they can also affect bone marrow and reduce the ability to make certain types of blood cells. Low white blood cell counts can leave patients vulnerable to infection. Low red blood cell counts can lead to anaemia and feelings of fatigue and weakness. Low platelet counts can lead to bruising and bleeding. Blood counts are therefore monitored. If they fall too low, the dose of chemotherapy may be reduced or the time between doses extended. This may affect survival as well as quality of life.

    Research studies in China and the West suggest that moxibustion applied by a practitioner can improve blood counts and immunity, and reduce side effects of chemotherapy. Moxibustion (also called moxa) is a form of traditional Chinese medicine that uses heat to stimulate acupuncture points. This heat comes from a smouldering herb called mugwort, that is rolled into a cigar shape to gently warm the point. Many patients regard this as a pleasant, relaxing experience.

    We plan to teach patients to self-administer moxa to an acupuncture point just below the knee. This is a feasibility study to see if patients are willing and able to self-administer moxa daily throughout their chemotherapy. They will keep a moxa diary to record their activity. We will also use a questionnaire to assess whether patients see themselves as active managers of their health. This may help us to screen suitable patients in future studies.

    We will also monitor blood counts, any delays or dose reductions to the chemotherapy, and any chemotherapy side effects. Participants will complete quality of life questionnaires at intervals during and after their chemotherapy.

    If results are favourable they will be used to design a randomised controlled trial comparing daily moxibustion with a ‘no treatment’ control arm.

  • REC name

    London - Fulham Research Ethics Committee

  • REC reference


  • Date of REC Opinion

    7 Oct 2015

  • REC opinion

    Further Information Favourable Opinion