Acupuncture Update

Today I had another session of Acupuncture so I thought I would add some pictures.

Excuse the ragged gardener’s nails!

This type of Acupuncture is called Auricular Acupuncture and there is lots of data on how well it works for salivary function. It is designed to stimulate those minor salivary glands that are often largely unaffected by radiotherapy. The larger salivary glands, seemingly, pose a large target for the X-rays which is one reason they are so damaged. They are uniquely sensitive to irradiation. Alison, the lovely lady that sticks these needles into me, tells me it is a technique that can be easily taught in that there is no need to perform a diagnosis and can be done without years of study. This is remarkable and opens the possibility of this being available via a Head and Neck support team. Interesting.

My saliva continues to improve and I am mighty pleased. Of course my recovery could be simply down to what I would expect in the normal course of events. I have no proof, but while I sit on Alison’s couch being stabbed I do get a rush of saliva.

Published by Dani Akrigg

I'm 68 in 2019. Retired Veterinary Surgeon

19 thoughts on “Acupuncture Update

    1. Sorry – therapist? don’t know correct terminolgy –
      I did discuss it with Robin – what I think he is saying? is that the clinical evidence isn’t really there – yes it could have benefits and he is happy to do it – but benefits could be coincindental – they do have a group session for the auricular
      acupuncture – (improving general well being I think?)which is full at the moment. I have booked 2 more sessions but full till November at the moment – but still going to give it a go and if space comes available on next group session then I will be able to get on that.
      There is a method that he would use but unable to do so for me because of where the treatment was.
      I will just have to see how it goes.


      1. Thanks for the update. Luke a lot of these therapies they don’t work for everybody. It’s worth trying and don’t forget things improve for a long time. I’m 32 months out of RT and still getting changes


  1. Hi Danni
    As you know I have had acupuncture a few times at The Trinity Centre at James Cook now to help mainly with sleep and pain. First time it was like I had taken a sleeping tablet and didn’t need to use pain killers that evening, and that was from someone who was very sceptical.
    I did have one session with a different practitioner whilst still undergoing RT and asked if they could help with saliva. I didn’t notice any affects from this and when I spoke to the regular guy I see he was sceptical about it helping with saliva. However i have a session with him tomorrow and I m defintely going to pursue this with him, and if he can’t help then at least point me in the right direction for treatment. The lack of saliva is a real problem both with sleep and the ability to get drier foods down. I will feedback how it goes.
    Thanks always for all your help

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Hi Dani…I have just started acupuncture myself. I had my first treatment yesterday. Aside from feeling relaxed …I didn’t seem to feel any change to my saliva level …although my swallowing possibly felt a bit smoother. Hopefully the results are cumulative and the treatments will help over time. I was wondering …how often does your acupuncturist recommend you have treatments? I was thinking I’d go once per week for a couple of months to start…and then re-evaluate after that. …PS. Many thanks to both you (& Ken) for sharing your experiences in your informative blogs!! I really appreciate it!


    1. Hi Jan. I’m glad you found the blog interesting. Whereabouts are you on your road to recovery?
      I started weekly for a month then the plan was twice monthly. Covid-19 interfered with that and I had to take a long break. I am now back onto two weekly visits. I think I’ll keep this up for another couple of months then drop to monthly.
      My saliva continues to improve but I can definitely say that things stalled while I couldn’t get my needles and in fact I got a bout of oral thrush, something I haven’t had since I was actually in treatment.
      I have a lifelong scepticism concerning alternative therapies so I approached the whole journey into acupuncture solely on the recommendation from a friend and a little research into treatment for xerostomia.
      I was nicely surprised to find it helped.
      I hope you can stick with it and we can definitely compare notes.

      I wish you well on the road to a version of normality.
      Keep safe and keep sane.

      Dani xx


      1. Hi again Dani … I am about 4 months post treatment…I completed radiation (no chemo) at the end of May 2020. When I was first diagnosed (and after reading your blog) I started researching & found studies to show acupuncture might be of benefit. I had originally wanted to try acupuncture once or twice per week “during” treatment ( as some studies showed this helped) …but couldn’t due to Covid. During radiation treatment my mouth was a dry at times …but not too bad. (My worst problem was a lack of appetite & difficulty eating due to nausea. pain, & taste changes.) My mouth didn’t start getting very dry until about 4 weeks post radiation and has been severely dry ever since. I discussed this with the dentist at the BC Cancer Agency & she said that acupuncture could help…so that further motivated me to give it a try. I have had 3 sessions now over the last 3 weeks. At the first one I didn’t feel any change except for a slight sensation that my swallowing was slightly smoother…At the 2nd session my mouth felt very dry while on the table getting the treatment, but later that day I felt like my mouth was definitely more moist & my swallowing was easier! During the rest of that week my mouth was much less dry, my swallowing better, and I seemed to have an increased appetite! Today I had my 3rd session and my mouth continues to feel much more moist!! I am excited that acupuncture seems to be helping! Thanks again for your blog …look forward to sharing notes … Wishing you continued improvement in your health!

        Liked by 1 person

      2. Hi Jan,

        What wonderful news. I aim so pleased that both the blog and the acupuncture have helped. I keep going on and on about it because I am convinced that it is an effective way to help ease the RT induced xerostomia.

        I remember going through the list of side effect with Russel Banner as he ticked them off on my consent form, just one in a long list. I didn’t pay it much attention, so keen was I to get treatment under way once I found out that I could indeed be cured. Even Dr Google (who I am perfectly comfortable with as I know my way round) didn’t prepare me for the reality.

        It doesn’t really hit you till you experience it just how debilitating a condition it is, how severely it impacts the way you eat and how much we take for granted being able to taste and enjoy our food. I missed my therapist during Lockdown but my appointments are now every three weeks and simply top up my recovery.

        I have an appointment with Oncology next moth, the first in 9 months and I shall go armed with more data on the efficacy of needles. My therapist tells me the points are quite definite and easily taught to lay people. I am half minded to get her to teach me and pitch up at the Wednesday dietitian sessions at the hospital and offer to do it.

        Thanks for your reply.
        Please do keep in touch and I wish you all the best in your recovery.



  3. Hi Lisa
    It will get better. It’s the chopping and changing that gets my goat. I’m still enthusiastic about food just disappointed often. I hate myself for thinking it but I hate the way people say how wonderful I look as if cancer is a thing you just get better from and forget. Grrrrrrr


    1. Dani, you can feel any way you wish. Healing and recovery often take longer than treatments! People are sincere when they say you look ‘good’ because you most likely do….if they only new the horrors which only you can feel…they would be freaked out, lecture you on ‘keeping positive’ and no one wants a lecture. Friends kept telling me, “eat more, maybe you will like a cheese sandwich–it’s very soft”
      I told them I refused to swallow even liquid because it was SOOOOOOOOOOO painful. They made me feel depressed and angry because they were not listening to me…ARRRRGGHHHH.


      1. Lisa
        This is a strange cancer. The treatment is so invasive and so damaging. After we are “better” we continue to be in discomfort. Eating and socialising around eating is so much a part of being human it’s difficult to have it compromised so much.
        We look well but inside our heads are in turmoil. I am glad to be alive but I still get bad days when I just hate my husband asking me if I enjoyed dinner when in reality I just ate it. It could have been anything.
        Other days are sunny. The cloudy days are getting fewer but when the dark cloud descends it’s difficult to shift. Only a fellow sufferers understands
        Oh well. Onward and forward.


      2. Hi Dani,
        Oh, yes, we both recognize the black hole of depression and malaise which seem to afflict cancer survivors….. especially those of the neck+head+oral diagnoses. I think because it is so close to our brain, that there is a very unwanted connection there. Mine diminished after about 6-8 months, but it does rear its ugly head unannounced on occasion. I just tell myself it will pass…after a few days. As far as food tasting like cardboard shoes, I just have to laugh as from one day to the next, one meal to the next, I can only taste sweet things…not cake, not pancakes, but the sugar. I can only smell strong cheeses. When in a social occasion or eating with a friend and they ask me how was my meal?…I just say, “The shoe tasted wonderful but the texture was interesting. My brain seems to recall taste sensations, but not my mouth”
        Dani, I never know what my body will feel like upon waking each day. Sometimes I feel dizzy, sometimes I feel energized with life, sometimes I feel in a deep dark hole, sometimes I just want to be quiet and read. Pat yourself on the back each day for making it through!! Nobody understands unless they have been through the battles.


  4. I, too, have xerostomia and had 10 acupuncture sessions. It did help slightly, but I still have no taste or sense of smell. The saliva issue has improved so that |I don’t need constant liquid in order to swallow.
    Thanks, Ken and Dani, for your postings.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Hi Lisa, my smell is fine but my taste is still all over the place 19 months on. Some days it’s better than others and I can tell what I’m eating, it’s just not in HD. I can eat anything but a hot curry though.


      1. Oh, yes, Dani—curry and hot spices or peppers send me through the roof on fire. I can only taste sweet syrup and ice cream…..but cannot smell anything but garlic or smelly cheeses.. I am convincing myself that I am getting used to this. Even fruit tastes salty and I have to peel everything to avoid choking. Life is interesting!!


  5. Dani,
    Thanks for sending me the link to your blog. It’s been a while since I’ve had anything to add to mine, and I will definitely link your’s to mine.

    Hazel had said that she had tried acupuncture to reduce xerostomia, but the impression that I got from her was that it “sort of” worked. Its sounds, though, that you’ve had a very positive result. That’s great! I’ll post, at, a link to your Acupuncture page.

    Take care,


    1. Hi Ken, thanks. I continue to have my sessions. They were suspended due to the Covid pandemic and I really felt my mouth getting dryer. The opinion is that I count need them forever but for a little while. Keep well, keep sane Dani xx


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