A multicentre randomized trial carried out in Korea, has shown acupuncture has a significant effect on the symptoms of allergic rhinitis, compared with either sham acupuncture or no treatment.
A total of 238 patients were randomly allocated to one of three groups: true acupuncture, sham acupuncture and a waiting list control group. The acupuncture groups had sessions three times per week for four weeks. Sham acupuncture was delivered by minimal needling at non-acupoints. The waiting list group received no treatment. After treatment, the true acupuncture group exhibited a significantly better total nasal symptom score, compared with the sham and no-treatment groups. The true acupuncture group also reported significant changes in non-nasal symptoms, compared with the no-treatment group but not with the sham acupuncture group. The researchers conclude acupuncture may be a safe and effective treatment for allergic rhinitis.
Of note is the fact that the difference between true and sham acupuncture was greater after 4 weeks of follow-up than after the initial completion of acupuncture treatment. This suggests that the treatment effect was real, as the placebo effect would be expected to wear off or remain the same in prolonged trials.
(A Multicentre Randomized Controlled Trial Testing the Effects of Acupuncture on Allergic Rhinitis. European Journal of Allergy & Clinical Immunology, 18 December 2012.)