Acupuncture for treatment of allergic rhinitis

Acupuncture and Chinese herbal medicine are being used increasingly for the management of allergic rhinitis.

Study 1

In a 2002 Australian study, 30 subjects were randomly assigned to two groups and treated with real or sham acupuncture (three times per week) for four consecutive weeks and then a crossover for treatments for a further four weeks without a washout period.

There was a significant improvement in five-point scale (FPS) between the two types of acupuncture treatments. The results indicate that acupuncture is an effective and safe alternative treatment for the management of SAR.

Study 2

Eighty-five patients were recruited from the pediatric outpatient clinic at Kwong Wah Hospital, in Hong Kong and randomized to receive active acupuncture for 8 weeks or sham acupuncture for 8 weeks (twice per week for both groups).

There were significantly lower daily rhinitis scores and more symptom-free days for the group receiving active acupuncture, during both the treatment and follow-up periods.

This study showed that active acupuncture was more effective than sham acupuncture in decreasing the symptom scores for persistent allergic rhinitis and increasing the symptom-free days.

Study 3

In a German study, 52 patients between the ages of 20 and 58 who had typical symptoms of seasonal AR were assigned randomly and in a blinded fashion to (i) an active treatment group which received a semi-standardized treatment of acupuncture and Chinese herbal medicine, and (ii) a control group which received acupuncture applied to non-acupuncture points in addition to a non-specific Chinese herbal formula.

The change in severity of hay fever symptoms was the primary outcome measured on a visual analogue scale (VAS).

Patients in the active treatment group showed a significant after-treatment improvement on the VAS (P = 0.006) and Rhinitis Quality of Life Questionnaire (P = 0.015).


Confirmatory evidence is needed from large prospective randomized multi-centre trials.


Effect of acupuncture in the treatment of seasonal allergic rhinitis: a randomized controlled clinical trial. Xue CC, English R, Zhang JJ, Da Costa C, Li CG. Am J Chin Med. 2002;30(1):1-11.
Does acupuncture or Chinese herbal medicine have a role in the treatment of allergic rhinitis? Curr Opin Allergy Clin Immunol. Xue CC, Li CG, Hügel HM, Story DF. 2006 Jun;6(3):175-9.
A double-blind, randomized, placebo-controlled trial of acupuncture for the treatment of childhood persistent allergic rhinitis. Ng DK, Chow PY, Ming SP, Hong SH, Lau S, Tse D, Kwong WK, Wong MF, Wong WH, Fu YM, Kwok KL, Li H, Ho JC. Pediatrics. 2004 Nov;114(5):1242-7.
Acupuncture and Chinese herbal medicine in the treatment of patients with seasonal allergic rhinitis: a randomized-controlled clinical trial. Brinkhaus B, Hummelsberger J, Kohnen R, Seufert J, Hempen CH, Leonhardy H, Nögel R, Joos S, Hahn E, Schuppan D. Allergy. 2004 Sep;59(9):953-60.
Does traditional Chinese medicine have a place in the health system?
The Recent History of Acupuncture. Edzard Ernst, MD. Am Journal of Medicine, Volume 121, Issue 12, Pages 1027-1028 (December 2008).
Allergy Sufferers Turn To Alternative Treatments - Acupuncture - WLKY Louisville.
Acupuncture from Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia.
Image source: Needles being inserted into a patient's skin, Wikipedia, public domain.

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