Looking for seasonal allergy relief? Needles may help. That’s according to researchers who found that acupuncture may be an effective treatment for the sneezing, watery eyes and general misery that strike 40 million Americans this time each year.
In a study published in the Annals of Internal Medicine, researchers divided 422 patients around the country into three groups. One group received 12 acupuncture treatments in eight weeks. Its participant were told they could take antihistamine to treat allergy symptoms as needed. A second group could also take medications but received an acupuncture placebo – needles inserted randomly rather than in specific acupuncture points. The third group treated allergies with antihistamine only.
After eight weeks, a survey of patients showed that the group that had genuine acupuncture reported the most improved symptoms and the least use of medication. However, the authors warned that the improvements in this group were modest compared with the antihistamine-only group. Two months after treatment ended, there were no differences between the two groups.
The sham acupuncture patients also reported some relief – though not as much as the group with real acupuncture – leading scientists to call for more research into the placebo effect. But whether acupuncture’s allergy benefits are real or perceived, the study pointed out that about 18 percent of allergy sufferers in the United States already use acupuncture to ease symptoms or complement other treatments.
Published 8:17 pm, Tuesday, May 28, 2013