August 03, 2015
2 min read

Acupuncture safe, effective in treating seasonal allergic rhinitis

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Four weeks of acupuncture treatment appeared to be a safe and effective treatment option for seasonal allergic rhinitis, according to study results.

“Over the last decade there has been an increasing body of literature assessing the potential benefit of acupuncture for the treatment of allergic rhinitis, both seasonal and perennial allergic rhinitis,” Charlie Changli Xue, PhD, head of school of health sciences at RMIT University in Australia, told “[Our research] provides important data on the benefit of acupuncture for seasonal allergic rhinitis which is a very common problem in Australia and globally.”

Charlie Changli Xue

Charlie Changli Xue

Xue and colleagues conducted a double blind, randomized controlled trial during the pollen seasons of 2009 to 2011 to assess the efficacy and safety of 12 sessions of acupuncture for the treatment of seasonal allergic rhinitis (SAR).

The analysis included 175 adults aged 18 to 70 years with SAR. Participants had to have at least 2 years of typical symptoms associated with SAR or perennial allergic rhinitis with seasonal exacerbation and a positive allergen skin prick testing.

Researchers randomized the participants to receive either real acupuncture (n = 88) or sham acupuncture (n = 87).

Participants recorded symptom severity in weekly case report forms assessing the severity of nasal and non-nasal symptoms during the trial.

Symptoms of sneezing (mean difference = –0.28) and itchiness of the ears and palate (mean difference = –0.4) in participants receiving real acupuncture appeared more likely to be less severe after treatment than in the group receiving fake acupuncture.

Quality of life assessed with the Rhinoconjunctivitis Quality of Life Questionnaire with Standardized Activities also appeared more likely to improve in participants receiving real acupuncture (mean difference for activity = –1.84).

Participants in both the real acupuncture group (9.7%) and sham acupuncture group (8.5%) reported adverse events, however no serious adverse events occurred.

Symptoms of sneezing (mean difference = –0.19), total nasal symptoms (mean difference = –0.46) and global nasal and non-nasal symptoms (mean difference = 0.61) remained less severe after 4 weeks follow-up in participants receiving real acupuncture.

Xue told that the study results have future implications for how treatment may be offered.

“[Patients can] consider acupuncture as an option of care for managing their hay fever symptoms,” he said. “Qualified acupuncturists and other health care practitioners should discuss [acupuncture] as an option with their patients, particularly for those pharmaco-therapies [that] have not effectively alleviated their hay fever symptoms.” – by Ryan McDonald

Disclosure: The researchers report no relevant financial disclosures.