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.)
A German study has assessed the cost-effectiveness of acupuncture for hayfever and allergic rhinitis, the former being the most common type of allergic rhinitis. A total of 981 patients were randomly allocated to one of two groups: one received usual care alone, whilst the second received usual care plus ten sessions of acupuncture.
Quality of life, and direct and indirect costs, were all assessed at baseline and again after three months. The study concluded that acupuncture in addition to routine care was both beneficial and cost-effective.
(Cost-effectiveness of Acupuncture in Women and Men with Allergic Rhinitis: A Randomised Controlled Study in Usual Care. American Journal of Epidemiology, 1 March 2009.)
A large German randomised controlled trial has examined the effectiveness of acupuncture plus routine care, compared to routine care alone, for patients with allergic rhinitis. Over 5200 patients, mean age 40 years, were randomly allocated to receive either 15 acupuncture treatments over three months, or to receive no acupuncture. All were allowed to receive standard medical care. Treatment effectiveness was assessed at the start of the trial, and again at three and six months. Using the criteria of rhinitis symptoms and general quality of life, the researchers conclude that acupuncture for allergic rhinitis in addition to routine care, gives clinically relevant and persistent benefits.
(Acupuncture in patients with allergic rhinitis: a pragmatic randomized trial. Annals of Allergy, Asthma & Immunology, November 2008.)
An Australian study looking at acupuncture for allergic rhinitis has found that it significantly reduces the symptoms of persistent disease. Eighty patients aged 16 to 70 years, were randomly assigned to receive either real acupuncture, or a sham procedure which they were lead to believe was acupuncture. They were treated twice weekly for eight weeks, and then followed up for a further twelve weeks. Measuring factors such as sneezing, nasal itch, nasal obstruction and use of medication, the patients receiving real acupuncture, were significantly better after eight weeks. These benefits persisted at the end of the three month follow-up period.
(Acupuncture for Persistent Allergic Rhinitis: a randomised sham-controlled trial. Medical Journal of Australia, 17 September 2007.)