Acupuncture’s ability to improve the symptoms of allergic rhinitis may be due to modulation of the upper airway mucosal immune response to house dust mites. Australian researchers randomised 151 individuals suffering from persistent allergic rhinitis into real, sham and no acupuncture groups. Both groups received twice-weekly treatments for eight weeks. Real acupuncture was carried out at Yintang, Yingxiang L.I.-20, Hegu, L.I.- 4, Zusanli ST-36 and Lianquan REN-23, while sham consisted of needling away from documented acupuncture points. Various cytokines, pro-inflammatory neuropeptides and immunoglobulins were measured in saliva or plasma from baseline to four-week follow-up. Statistically significant reductions in total IgE and allergen-specific IgE for house dust mite were seen only in the real acupuncture group. A significant down-regulation in pro-inflammatory neuropeptide substance P (from 408.74 to 90.77 pg/mL) was also seen with real acupuncture, 18 to 24 hours after the first treatment. Nasal obstruction, nasal itch, sneezing, runny nose, eye itch and sleep were observed to improve significantly in the real acupuncture group and continued to improve up to four-week follow-up. The authors suggest that since nasal itch, eye itch and sneezing are all symptoms that are mediated by the transient receptor potential vanilloid 1 (TRPV1), a cellular receptor which plays a central role in the allergic inflammatory response, acupuncture may result in modulation of TRPV1 expression, sensitivity and/or activation.
Effect of acupuncture on house dust mite specific IgE, substance P, and symptoms in persistent allergic rhinitis. Ann Allergy Asthma Immunol. 2016 Jun;116(6):497-505.