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Acupuncture helped allergies -- a little, study says

February 19, 2013|By Mary MacVean
  • Researchers found that acupuncture helped seasonal allergies, but the differences were modest and disappeared within two months after treatment.
Researchers found that acupuncture helped seasonal allergies, but the… (Los Angeles Times )

Acupuncture gave some relief to people suffering from seasonal allergies, but the improvements didn’t last much beyond treatment, researchers said.

The researchers, from several institutions in the United States and Germany, studied seasonal allergic rhinitis, characterized by a runny and stuffy nose caused by plant pollen allergies. They divided 422 people in Germany into three groups: one treated with acupuncture, one with sham acupuncture and one with antihistamines. The people in the first two groups also were allowed to take antihistamines if needed.

At the end of 12 acupuncture treatments over seven or eight weeks, the patients said their symptoms improved and they took less medication than the people in the other groups. But the differences were modest and disappeared within two additional months, the researchers wrote in the Annals of Internal Medicine this week.

At the start, the three groups had similar characteristics.

The researchers said they did not know how the acupuncture curbed symptoms. Previous studies have been inconclusive. And they said the improvements may not be clinically significant.

Allergic rhinitis affects an estimated 16% of U.S. children, and $1.2 billion is spent annually on medication and preventive measures, the researchers said.

In an accompanying editorial, Dr. Remy Coeytaux of the Duke Clinical Research Institute and Jongbae Park of the University of North Carolina said the study lends “compelling support to the effectiveness” of acupuncture for seasonal rhinitis. And that should lead to additional research in the role of acupuncture in our healthcare system.

mary.macvean@latimes.com

@mmacvean on Twitter

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