A 2004 study published in the journal Allergy was the first to scientifically evaluate the combined effect of both acupuncture and Chinese herbal medicine on people with allergic rhinitis. The results of this study suggest that a Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM) protocol involving both acupuncture and Chinese herbal medicine can benefit people with allergic rhinitis.
In this study, 52 people with allergic rhinitis were randomly assigned to receive either weekly acupuncture sessions and Chinese herbal medicine three times per day or placebo (sham acupuncture --insertion of needles into nonspecific points and nonspecific herbs) for six weeks. The people receiving treatment were given two herbal medicine formulas: one was a basic formula for allergies and the other was created for each individual, based on the person's Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM) diagnosis.
TCM More Effective than Placebo in Alleviating Allergy Symptoms:
At the end of the study, allergy severity in people receiving treatment was significantly lower than in those receiving placebo. Nearly 85% of those in the TCM group improved while improvement was noted in only 40% of those getting placebo. By the end of the study period, the severity of hay fever was "significantly less pronounced in the TCM group" than in the control patients. Instances of remission (where patients reported no or very low symptoms) occurred twice as often in the TCM patients compared to patients in the control group.
Lifestyle Improvements & Need for Less Meds with TCM:
The 2004 study also found that the TCM patients experienced higher levels of physical activity and improved psychological conditions compared to patients in the control group. Moreover, intake of anti-allergy drugs dropped dramatically among the TCM patients, compared to only a slight decrease in the control group.
Source: Allergy (2004; 59: 953-60).
Article from Bastyr Center for Natural Health.
A study of 422 seasonal allergy sufferers, conducted in Berlin, Germany and published in the Annals of Internal Medicine earlier this year (2013), showed that 71% of people who received acupuncture reported an improvement in their allergy symptoms after eight weeks of treatment. Study participants who used antihistamine medications as needed and did not receive acupuncture experienced markedly less improvement of symptoms. The study concluded, "Acupuncture led to statistically significant improvements in disease-specific quality of life and antihistamine use measures after 8 weeks of treatment compared with sham acupuncture and with RM [rescue medicine] alone..."
Source: Annals of Internal Medicine, February 19, 2013.
News Story in The Columbus Dispatch, March 31, 2013.
Report in Reuters, February 18, 2013.