Professor Charlie Xue, Professor of Chinese Medicine at the World Health Organization Collaborating Centre for Traditional Medicine at RMIT University in Melbourne, and his colleagues conducted a study into the effectiveness of acupuncture in relieving the symptoms of inflammatory nasal allergies.
Persistent allergic rhinitis (PAR) affects 16 per cent of Australians. The condition involves an inflammatory response to allergens such as house dust mites and pet dander, and symptoms include sneezing, blocked nose, nasal itch, and a runny nose.
By definition, the symptoms are present more than four days per week and for more than four weeks, in contrast to intermittent allergic rhinitis.
Professor Xue and colleagues, including Professor David Story, School of Health Sciences, RMIT, and Professor Frank Thien, Alfred Hospital, Melbourne, treated 80 patients with PAR with either real or sham acupuncture. After eight weeks of treatment, they found a greater relief from symptoms for those patients treated with real acupuncture.
Patients treated with real acupuncture also experienced a lasting reduction in symptoms 12 weeks after treatment. "Although PAR is not life-threatening, it affects quality of life and has substantial economic and social impact," Prof Xue says.
"Pharmacotherapy provides symptomatic relief of PAR. However most medications have side effects. "We found that 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 conclude that acupuncture may provide a safe and effective option for the symptomatic treatment of PAR."