The evidence supporting the use of acupuncture as an effective treatment for allergic rhinitis continues to mount. An Australian study randomly allocated 175 patients diagnosed with seasonal allergic rhinitis (SAR) to receive either real acupuncture (RA) or sham acupuncture (SA), consisting of 12 acupuncture sessions over four weeks during the pollen season. RA was delivered manually, whereas SA involved superficial needling at non-acupoints without additional stimulation. RA was found to be significantly better than SA for decreasing SAR symptom severity (sneezing and itchiness) at the end of treatment and improving participants’ quality of life at the end of the treatment and follow-up phases.
Acupuncture for seasonal allergic rhinitis: a randomized controlled trial. Ann Allergy Asthma Immunol. 2015 Jun 11. pii: S1081-1206(15)00342-7.
A pilot study carried out with 30 SAR patients in Germany suggests that, compared with matched healthy controls, SAR patients show altered cardiovascular autonomic function at baseline, which can be partially normalised by acupuncture treatment.
Autonomic Function in Seasonal Allergic Rhinitis and Acupuncture – an Experimental Pilot Study within a Randomized Trial. Forsch Komplementmed. 2015;22(2):85-92. Epub 2015 Mar 20.
Meanwhile, the various mediators, receptors and signalling pathways associated with the anti-inflammatory and anti-hyperalgesic effects of acupuncture, and which may influence its mechanism of action in allergic rhinitis, have been reviewed by another group of Australian authors. These include down-regulation of pro-inflammatory neuropeptides, cytokines and neurotrophins, activation of the cholinergic anti-inflammatory pathway and proliferation of opioid-containing macrophages in inflamed tissues.
Mediators, Receptors, and Signalling Pathways in the Anti-Inflammatory and Antihyperalgesic Effects of Acupuncture. Evid Based Complement Alternat Med. 2015;2015:975632. Epub 2015 Aug 3.