Allergy acupuncture treatment is frequently offered at clinics across the country. In our own clinic we see both seasonal and perennial allergy patients. Our patients are frequently discouraged by the side effects and lack of effectiveness of conventional medications.
We find that acupuncture reduces allergy rhinitis symptoms for the majority of our patients. For example, we recently started a new patient with severe allergies, asthma and eczema with a treatment plan of two acupuncture treatments per week. Within a few weeks her symptoms were reduced by 70%.
There have been some interesting research studies on acupuncture for allergies.
The German Studies
A German study of 981 patients was conducted in 2000-2004.(1) They compared a group receiving conventional treatment with a group receiving conventional treatment plus acupuncture (which is, I think a superior study design for assessing acupuncture).
After three months the acupuncture group reported significant improvement compared to the control group. The researchers concluded that acupuncture was also a cost-effective treatment for allergies.
A second German study involved 5,237 patients.(2) The study compared a control group not receiving acupuncture to a group receiving up to 15 acu-therapy sessions. The allergy-acupuncture group had a greater improvement in allergic rhinitis symptoms and also in quality of life symptoms both at 3 months and at 6 months.
How does it work?
A possible explanation for the allergy relieving effect of acupuncture can be found in a Taiwanese study.(3) The researchers concluded: “To our knowledge, this is the first report of cDNA microarray analysis of differential gene expression in the peripheral blood of patients with allergic rhinitis before and after acupuncture treatment. Our data suggest that the balance between T-helper 1 and T-helper 2 cell-derived proinflammatory versus anti-inflammatory cytokines might be improved by acupuncture treatment.”
1. Am J Epidemiol. 2009 Mar 1;169(5):562-71. Epub 2009 Jan 6
2. Ann Allergy Asthma Immunol. 2008 Nov;101(5):535-43.
3. J Altern Complement Med. 2008 Jul;14(6):689-98