Acupuncture Beats Antihistamines For Allergic Rhinitis
A total of 60% of acupuncture patients self-administered antihistamine medications during the eight week treatment intervention period. A total of 71% of patients in the sham control group self-administered antihistamines and 82% self-administered antihistamines in the drug-only group.
Patients in the acupuncture group used antihistamines 8.92 days on average during the intervention period. Sham acupuncture group patients used antihistamines for an average of 13.41 days and the drugs-only group for an average of 18.07 days.
- LI4 (Hegu)
- LI11 (Quchi)
- LI20 (Yingxiang)
- Yintang (extra)
- Bitong (extra)
- GB20 (Fengchi)
- LV3 (Taichong)
- LU7 (Lieque)
- ST36 (Zusanli)
- SP6 (Sanyinjiao)
- TB17 (Yifeng)
- BL13 (Feishu)
In addition, at least three more acupuncture points were added per each acupuncture session. The acupuncture treatment group received eight weeks of true acupuncture treatment. In summary, patients receiving acupuncture had less drug intake and less symptoms than patients in the medication-only or sham acupuncture control groups.
The researchers provided a general background. They note that allergic rhinitis (inflammation of the nasal mucous membranes) is common, affecting approximately 23% of European adults. Allergic rhinitis usually presents with other symptoms triggered by allergens including sneezing, itching, nasal obstruction, or rhinorrhea (i.e., runny nose). The antihistamine cetirizine was chosen because it is “one of the most prescribed antihistamines” in Germany. Possible cetirizine adverse effects include drowsiness, headaches, dizziness, fatigue, or sore throat.
The researchers reference a report by Schäfer et al. noting that 18% of seasonal allergy patients in Germany have had acupuncture for the treatment of the condition. The results of the current investigation “showed significant changes in favour of acupuncture treatment, including improvements in RQoL [rhinitis-specific quality of life] and SAR [seasonal allergic rhinitis] symptoms scores.” The research team notes that 38% of patients receiving acupuncture did not use any antihistamines and only 16% of patients in the drugs-only group did not use antihistamines. They add that acupuncture reduces antihistamine use and “can therefore be considered a valuable, additional treatment option for patients with SAR.”
Prior research by Reinhold et al. is consistent with these findings, concluding that “Acupuncture is an effective intervention that results in improved quality of life in patients with SAR.” An investigation by Brinkhaus et al. produced similar findings, “In patients with allergic asthma, additional acupuncture treatment to routine care was associated with increased disease-specific and health-related quality of life compared to treatment with routine care alone.”
- GB 20 (Fengchi)
- Yintang (extra)
- LI 20 (Yingxiang)
Acupuncture outperformed the control group and the medication group (fluticasone propionate) for both reduction of symptoms and downregulation of serum IgE, IL-1 β, and TNF-α. These substances are proinflammatory mediators. IgE is an antibody that functions in immunity but is also involved in hypersensitivity related to asthma, sinusitis, and allergic rhinitis. IL-1 β is a proinflammatory cytokine with pyrogenic (fever producing) properties. TNF-α is another cell signaling protein (cytokine) with proinflammatory actions. It is involved in systemic inflammation, acute reactions, and is an endogenous pyrogen. Results were confirmed with enzyme linked immunosorbent assays.
Adam, Daniela, Linus Grabenhenrich, Miriam Ortiz, Sylvia Binting, Thomas Reinhold, and Benno Brinkhaus. “Impact of acupuncture on antihistamine use in patients suffering seasonal allergic rhinitis: secondary analysis of results from a randomised controlled trial.” Acupuncture in Medicine (2018): acupmed-2017, Charité – Universitätsmedizin Berlin.
Reinhold, Thomas, Stephanie Roll, Stefan N. Willich, Miriam Ortiz, Claudia M. Witt, and Benno Brinkhaus. “Cost-effectiveness for acupuncture in seasonal allergic rhinitis: economic results of the ACUSAR trial.” Annals of Allergy, Asthma & Immunology 111, no. 1 (2013): 56-63.
Brinkhaus, Benno, Stephanie Roll, Susanne Jena, Katja Icke, Daniela Adam, Sylvia Binting, Fabian Lotz, Stefan N. Willich, and Claudia M. Witt. “Acupuncture in patients with allergic asthma: a randomized pragmatic trial.” The Journal of Alternative and Complementary Medicine 23, no. 4 (2017): 268-277.