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Heather Hanks
Written by Heather Hanks

Reviewed by Physician Brandon Yew and Dr Eki Wari on October 18, 2022

Why Is Bone Marrow Health Important?

Bone marrow transplants are commonly needed among leukemia patients. Here's how to best support your blood and bone marrow health - and why this is so important.

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Bone marrow is an essential part of your health. It’s responsible for the formation of blood cells that carry oxygen throughout the body.

Unfortunately, blood cancers and disorders, such as leukemia, reduce the number of healthy cells in your body. For this reason, people with leukemia may require a blood marrow transplant.

In this guide, we’ll explain what bone marrow is and why it’s so important for your health from both a Western medicine and Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM) perspective. We’ll also provide tips for supporting healthy blood cells so you can feel your best.

What Is Bone Marrow?

Bone marrow is the soft, fatty tissue located inside your bone cavities. It can be red or yellow.

Your bones are made up of three parts: compact bone, spongy bone, and bone marrow. Bone marrow refers to the soft, fatty tissue located inside cavities. It looks like jelly you would spread on toast.

There are two types. Each is characterized by its color:

  • Red: This color is responsible for making blood cells, including red and white blood cells and platelets.
  • Yellow: Yellow bone marrow’s job is to store fat that is needed for energy production and to develop muscles, fat cells, bone, and cartilage.

Up until about age seven, most of your bone marrow is red. Yellow bone marrow takes over after this age.

Why Is Bone Marrow Important?

Bone marrow is necessary for the formation of blood cells that you need to live. It makes the following:

  • Red blood cells that carry oxygen
  • White blood cells that prevent infections and keep you healthy
  • Platelets that control bleeding and blood loss

Many people with blood disorders require transplants from healthy donors so they can survive.

How Do I Know If My Bone Marrow Is Healthy?

A biopsy can help determine if your bone marrow is healthy.

Two tests are available to check and see if your bone marrow is healthy:

  • Aspirate: This test involves using a needle to extract fluid and cells from your body. It helps identify which cells are present and whether or not they are healthy.
  • Biopsy: A biopsy involves using a needle to remove pieces of your bone marrow. This helps show the number and types of cells present.

Leukemia is the biggest risk factor for diseased bone marrow. It occurs when a cell mutation creates mutated cells that grow out of control, reducing the number of healthy cells.

Other conditions may include:

  • Aplastic anemia occurs when you don’t make enough blood cells.
  • Multiple myeloma occurs when your body makes cancerous cells.
  • Myelodysplastic syndromes are disorders that occur when you are anemic and don’t produce enough blood cells.
  • Polycythemia vera occurs when the body makes too many red blood cells, causing your blood to become thick.

Common symptoms include fatigue, bruising or bleeding easily, frequent infections, and muscle weakness.

Bone Marrow Health, According To TCM

We asked TCM Physician Brandon Yew to explain the importance from a TCM perspective.

“In TCM, the Kidneys govern the bones, which in turn houses the marrows produced from the Kidney essence known as Jing. As such, Kidney health is very important. If the Kidney is diseased due to the presence of pathogens (Cold, Fire, Dampness, Phlegm, Stagnated Qi, and blood clots) or Deficiencies in vital substances (qi, blood, yin, yang, and jing), the production of the bone marrow and its quality will be affected.” 

Physician Yew

“If the bone marrow is diseased due to a dysfunctional Kidney, it causes the production and storage of Kidney jing to be disrupted. This leads to a wide range of medical conditions, including menstrual problems,” Physician Yew continued.

How To Support Bone Marrow Health

Eating a high-protein diet may help support blood health. According to one study, protein malnutrition leads to changes in the body linked to hypoplasia, hematopoietic failure, and peripheral leukopenia.

You can get more protein in your diet by eating more wild-caught fish, organic poultry, nuts, beans, seeds, and whole grains. Pure chicken essence is also a good source of amino acids, the building block of protein.

You can also try TCM herbal remedies and acupressure to support bone marrow health.

Herbal remedies

According to Physician Yew, here are some herbal remedies that may help support bone marrow health:

  • Zuo Gui Wan: Regenerates Kidney yin and essence jing
  • You Gui Wan: Regenerates Kidney essence jing, yin, and yang energies
  • Da Bu Yin Wan: Dispels Fire, regenerates Kidney yin and essence jing
  • Bu Yang Huan Wu Tang: Regenerates qi, dissipates blood clots, restores and enhances qi and blood circulation to the Kidneys  
  • Xiao Huo Luo Dan: Dispels Wind, Dampness, Phlegm, and blood clots; unblocks the meridian channels for better qi and blood circulation to the Kidneys
  • Da Huo Luo Dan (more potent than Xiao Huo Luo Dan): Dispels Wind, Dampness, Phlegm, and blood clots; unblocks the meridian channels for better qi and blood circulation to the Kidneys

Research shows that Cordyceps can also help increase the survival of bone marrow stem cells.

Acupressure

Acupressure is an easy self-help remedy you can do by placing fingers or a blunt object like a massage stick at certain acupoints. Apply an appropriate amount of pressure to elicit a tolerable sensation of soreness or tenderness. At the same time, massage in both clockwise and counter-clockwise circular motion 20 times each. Repeat for at least 3 minutes per acupoint.

Acupoints that help include:

  • Dispels pathogens to restore and enhance Qi and Blood circulation: He Gu (LI4), Nei Guan (PC6), Wai Guan (SJ5), Xuan Zhong (GB39), Feng Long (ST40), and Yin Ling Quan (SP9)
  • Regenerates Spleen qi, Liver Blood, and Kidney essence: San Yin Jiao (SP6)
  • Supports Kidney essence: Tai Xi (KI3)
  • Regenerates Liver blood: Tai Chong (LR3)

“Do take note that the acupressure only provides a mild therapeutic effect. Please consult a medical doctor if the symptoms persist and are of greater severity or affect your quality of life,” concluded Physician Yew.

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Mar 03 2024

Learning about how to keep my health with none invasive methods.

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