Seasonal allergic rhinitis (SAR) patients who have acupuncture treatment can significantly reduce their antihistamine use while improving their symptoms, according to a German trial. At the beginning of the pollen season, 414 patients were randomised into three study groups: acupuncture plus rescue medication (RM – cetirizine), sham acupuncture plus RM, and RM alone. The patients documented their medication use before and during the eight week intervention period. The acupuncture group received 12 sessions of semi-standardised acupuncture and the sham group received 12 sham acupuncture sessions. Patients in the acupuncture group were needled at bilateral Hegu L.I.-4, Quchi L.I.-11, Yingxiang L.I.-20 and Yintang (M-HN-3), along with three points chosen from Bitong M-HN-14, Fengchi GB-20, Taichong LIV-3, Lieque LU-7, Zusanli ST-36, Sanyinjiao SP-6, Tianrong SJ-17 or Feishu BL-13, plus at least three additional points. The results showed that eight weeks of acupuncture led to significantly fewer days of antihistamine use in patients with SAR compared with both sham acupuncture and RM alone. From the onset to the peak of the pollen season, patients treated by acupuncture did not need to increase their number of days of antihistamine use to alleviate their symptoms, in contrast to patients who used RM alone. In addition, fewer patients in the acupuncture group started using antihistamines during the intervention period compared with both other groups. Approximately 38% of the acupuncture group did not use any antihistamines at all, compared with only 16% in the RM group.
Impact of acupuncture on antihistamine use in patients suffering seasonal allergic rhinitis: secondary analysis of results from a randomised controlled trial. Acupunct Med. 2018 Feb 10. pii: acupmed-2017-011382.