According to new research, a safe and effective treatment for hay fever could lie in acupuncture.
The study conducted by researchers of RMIT University, Melbourne, Australia was published in the most recent issue of the Medical Journal of Australia.
The study finds that acupuncture is effective in relieving the symptoms of inflammatory nasal allergies.
Lead author Professor Charlie Xue of RMIT's World Health Organization Center for Traditional Medicine, informs that persistent allergic rhinitis (PAR) affects 16 per cent of Australians. The condition involves an inflammatory response to allergens, such as house dust mite and pet dander; the symptoms include sneezing, blocked nose, nasal itch and a runny nose.
As part of the study, Professor Xue and colleagues, including Professor David Story, from RMIT's School of Health Sciences, and Professor Frank Thien, Alfred Hospital, Melbourne, treated 80 patients with PAR with real or sham acupuncture.
After eight weeks of treatment, they found a greater relief from symptoms for those patients treated with real acupuncture. These patients also experienced a lasting reduction in symptoms 12 weeks after treatment, gives Professor Xue.
"Although PAR was not life-threatening, it affected quality of life and had substantial economic and social impact," Professor Xue was quoted.
According to Professor Xue, though pharmacotherapy provided symptomatic relief of PAR, most of these medications had side effects.
"We found acupuncture was well tolerated, with only minor and minimal adverse events, none of which were serious enough to result in participant withdrawal from the trial.
"We concluded acupuncture may provide a safe and effective option for the symptomatic treatment of PAR," Professor Xue added.