CIPN: Chemotherapy Induced Peripheral Neuropathy Case Study


“Lisa” was a 56 year-old breast cancer survivor.  Though the chemo had worked to eliminate the cancer, it left her with a nasty neuropathy down her right forearm.  Besides the pain of the inflamed nerve, she also had a general lack of strength and dexterity in that hand.

Otherwise, the chemo hadn’t taken much of a toll on her body and she was recovering well.

As we discussed her health history, it came up that she had a history of shingles, which is another issue having to do with inflamed nerves.  As pathogens lie dormant in the nerve, they wait until your immune system is low.

Maybe you haven’t been sleeping well, have extra stress, or have been eating junk for a few days.

And then they flare up and you get an outbreak.

I told her two things about her case.

1. Treating the neuropathy was entirely possible using Chinese Medicine, and it commonly takes 10-20 sessions to do so.  Sometimes more, sometimes less.

2.  During the course of treatment, her immune system would be getting stronger and may start scouring her body looking for pathogens that don’t belong.  This could manifest as a flare up of symptoms, including shingles.

I’m really glad I warned her about that.

We used internal herbs that strengthen the immune system, support liver function to breakdown pathogens, and help nerves to regenerate.  Acupuncture treatment was aimed at pain relief, immune support, and increased blood flow.

We also used herbal foot soaks for her.  The herbs in the soaks have similar immune enhancing, blood circulating, pain relieving functions as her internal formula.  And they are absorbed through the skin.  Which means even though the pain was in her arm, she could soak her feet for the benefit.  Some days she would mix it up and soak her hand instead, which is also a good idea.

As her body started to wake up, and her immune system kicked into gear, she did get a shingles outbreak.  But she was expecting it, and coupled with decreased intensity of the neuropathy in her arm, we took it as a sign that the treatment was working.

All in all, her neuropathy responded really well to treatment.  She got to the point where her arm was “barely an issue.”  And she was able to resume activities that she enjoyed like riding her bike.

After the main course of treatment she switched to a monthly maintenance schedule, which is highly recommended for this type of case.