In addition to the developments reported in my earlier posts on this page, further evidence supporting the use of acupuncture for hay fever, has emerged from researchers in Australia.
The study randomly allocated 175 patients with seasonal allergic rhinitis and confirmed as allergic to rye grass pollen, to receive either true acupuncture or sham acupuncture. The latter consisted of needling superficially at non-acupuncture points. Twelve sessions were given over four weeks during the pollen season in Melbourne. True acupuncture was significantly better at reducing symptom severity, namely sneezing and itchiness, and improving quality of life.
(Acupuncture for seasonal allergic rhinitis: a randomized controlled trial. Annals of Allergy, Asthma & Immunology, June 2015.)
A new meta-analysis of 13 research papers which encompassed a total of 2365 participants, suggests acupuncture helps allergic rhinitis. Not only is it safe, but the authors concluded that compared with controls, it lead to a significant reduction in nasal symptoms, medication use and serum IgE levels, coupled with quality of life improvements. The paper was published in the highly-respected American Journal of Rhinology & Allergy, along with an accompanying editorial by Dr Jeffrey Suh which points out that complementary medicine has become a popular treatment option for many patients with rhinitis and rhinosinusitis, so it is important that clinicians are aware of its use and potential benefits.
(Acupuncture for the treatment of allergic rhinitis: a systematic review and meta-analysis. American Journal of Rhinology & Allergy, Jan-Feb 2015.)
The newest guidelines issued in the US to help doctors diagnose and treat allergic rhinitis, say that acupuncture can be suggested to patients who would rather avoid drug treatment. The guidelines, issued by the Academy of Otolaryngology, are timely given that 1 in 6 Americans now suffer from some form of nasal allergy, from hayfever to pet allergy. “What we’re really talking about are allergies that are found all year-round and in every environment, whether urban or rural,” says guideline assistant chair Dr. Sandra Lin, an associate professor in the department of otolaryngology-head and neck surgery at Johns Hopkins School of Medicine in Baltimore.
Overall, the authors consider that acupuncture may help relieve symptoms and improve quality of life for people with perennial allergic rhinitis, and may also help with seasonal allergies, according to several studies.
(The US National Library of Medicine, National Institutes of Health Medline Plus, on-line 2 February 2015.)
Results of a pilot study carried by University Hospital Dresden in Germany, suggest acupuncture may be as effective as antihistamines in patients suffering from allergic rhinitis induced by house dust mites. A total of 24 such patients were treated for three weeks with either acupuncture or loratadine, a commonly-prescribed antihistamine. Patients were interviewed again at follow-up ten weeks after treatment. On the basis of patients’ subjective assessments, both treatments were considered effective, but the beneficial effects of acupuncture tended to be assessed as more persistent after treatment had ended.
The researchers conclude acupuncture is a clinically effective therapy in the treatment of persistent allergic rhinitis. The results indicate the probability of an immunomodulatory effect.
(The effectiveness of acupuncture compared to loratadine in patients allergic to house dust mites. Journal of Allergy, 5 June 2014. http://www.hindawi.com/journals/ja/2014/654632/)
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.)