In a German study, titled “Acupuncture Beats Antihistamines For Allergic Rhinitis” Acupuncture outperformed the control group and the medication group (fluticasone propionate) for both reduction of symptoms and downregulation of serum IgE, IL-1 β, and TNF-α. These substances are proinflammatory mediators. IgE is an antibody that functions in immunity but is also involved in hypersensitivity related to asthma, sinusitis, and allergic rhinitis. IL-1 β is a proinflammatory cytokine with pyrogenic (fever producing) properties. TNF-α is another cell signaling protein (cytokine) with proinflammatory actions. It is involved in systemic inflammation, acute reactions, and is an endogenous pyrogen. Results were confirmed with enzyme linked immunosorbent assays. Modern research supports the use of acupuncture for the treatment of allergic rhinitis.
- According to the American Academy of Allergy Asthma and Immunology, between 10 to 30% of the worldwide population is affected by allergic rhinitis. 7.6% of people in the US over the age of 18 have hay fever.
- Allergies, also known as allergic rhinitis, are a reaction of the immune system to a foreign substance such as pollen, dust, or pet dander.
- Acupuncture helps with balancing the immune system, relieving itchy dry eyes, clearing a stuffy nose, associated headaches, and releasing built-up pressure in the sinus cavity.
- Acupuncturists identify allergies as an external wind invasion. The wind invasion can be accompanied by heat, cold, and phlegm. For example, a sore throat is a heat sign, chills are a cold sign, and abundance of sputum is a phlegm sign.
- Popular acupuncture points to help with the symptoms include Bi Tong and Gallbladder 20. Bi tong is located right over the maxillary sinuses and Gallbladder 20 vents exterior wind.
- Herbal formulas that may be prescribed for allergies are Evergreen Magnolia Clear Sinuses and Puria Clear Sinuses. The main differentiating herbs from these formulas are Ge gen and Xin Yi Hua. Ge gen releases the exterior from wind, especially the upper back muscles and neck. Xin Yi Hua is a magnolia flower, it helps expel wind-cold and unblocks nasal passages.
- Treatment plan depends on the severity of the symptoms. In general, during an acute phase, 1 to 2 times per week for 4 weeks, followed by maintenance care 1 treatment every 2 weeks, is recommended. For prevention, 1 treatment per week starting at least one month before your allergy season begins.
- Lifestyle changes during the allergy season can greatly benefit symptoms. Diet adjustments, avoiding foods and beverages that create inflammation and phlegm such as dairy, processed sugars, alcohol, caffeine, gluten, spicy foods. Cleansing the air by using air filters to eliminate particles that may cause an immune response and wearing a mask outdoors when the pollen count is high.
“Acupuncture Beats Antihistamines for Allergic Rhinitis .” NCCAOM, HealthCMI, 5 Apr. 2018, https://www.nccaom.org/wp-content/uploads/pdf/Acupuncture%20Beats%20Antihistamines%20For%20Allergic%20Rhinitis.pdf.
By Kayla Forstall and Dr. Guillaume Vincent, L.Ac.