The bone marrow found predominantly in the long bones (arms and legs) and the sternum (chest bone) is responsible for the production of the blood cells. Those that we all know about, the red blood cells (erythrocytes) and the white blood cells (leucocytes), are manufactured along with others including the platelets – a modified type of red blood cell very important in the mechanism of blood clotting.

The bone marrow function can fail in one of two ways. It may cease to produce any of these cells or it may produce too many of them. Specific conditions such as polycythemia rubra vera (increase in red blood cells and, usually, white blood cells) and thrombocythemia or thrombocytosis are conditions marked by an absolute increase in the number of platelets (throbocytes is the medical name for platelets). Thrombocytopenia is a lack of platelets.

Excessive production of white blood cells in the bone marrow form myeloid leukaemias which are covered in their own section.

Certain drugs, radiation and viral infections are all associated with bone marrow disorders but who will succumb to this group of disorders is not known. There may be some genetic predisposition, but these problems tend not to run in families.

I have a theory. Stress releases adrenaline and Cortisol which are the stress chemicals . To counteract this, the body will try to make calming chemicals such as serotonin. The platelets are cells that contain and release serotonin when the body is under stress. I hypothesize that at certain levels of stress the platelet-serotonin release function may increase and the body may be tempted to make more platelets due to some chemical response. If the stress is persistent this mechanism may trigger a permanent effect leading to thrombocytosis. If the stress persists, perhaps the controlling chemical may run out, therefore the stimulation to make platelets may be reduced leading to thrombocytopenia. These are rare conditions and I have only treated a few cases, but in each there has been a noticeable stress-related time period prior to the condition forming.

The condition is often found only on routine blood test but may also be discovered because of symptoms related to clotting difficulties. Unexplained bruising and bleeding or conditions such as stroke may occur because of excessive clotting.

This condition is potentially life-threatening and needs to be monitored by a haematologist.

As we are uncertain about the causes, consider food allergy, deficiencies and environmental toxins as possible triggers.

Obtain the opinion of a medically qualified complementary practitioner for assessment of the above and treatment through homeopathy, herbal and supplemental therapies. None are documented as being effective but they may help.

Learn a meditation technique and sit with a counsellor to discuss problems and anxieties. • Do not refuse orthodox treatment which may include steroids, bone marrow suppressing drugs, radiation or surgical treatments. Look at the alternatives which may reduce the amount or the level of intervention.