Acupuncture May Help Treat Seasonal Allergies

(HealthDay News) – Acupuncture produces statistically significant improvements in disease-specific quality of life and reduces antihistamine use in patients with seasonal allergic rhinitis (SAR), although further study is required to determine whether these results are clinically significant, according to a study published online in the Feb. 19 issue of the Annals of Internal Medicine.

Benno Brinkhaus, MD, of the Charité-University Medical Center in Berlin, and colleagues conducted a randomized, controlled study involving 46 specialized physicians in six hospital clinics and 32 private outpatient clients to evaluate the effects of acupuncture plus cetirizine rescue medication (RM), sham acupuncture plus RM, or RM alone in 422 patients with SAR. A total of 12 treatments were provided over an eight-week period.

The researchers found that Rhinitis Quality of Life Questionnaire scores were significantly improved with acupuncture compared with sham acupuncture or RM. No differences were observed after 16 weeks in the first year. Small improvements favoring acupuncture over sham acupuncture or RM were noted in the second year.

“We found that acupuncture led to statistically significant improvements in disease-specific quality of life and antihistamine use after eight weeks of treatment compared with sham acupuncture and with RM alone, but the clinical significance of the findings remains uncertain,” the authors write. “The effectiveness of acupuncture for SAR compared with other antiallergic interventions and the possible underlying mechanisms of any effect, including context effects, need to be addressed in further research.”

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