Can Acupuncture Treat Seasonal Allergies?

Can acupuncture treat allergies

Seasonal Allergies Treatment Options

With all of the trees and flowers in full bloom, many people are currently suffering from seasonal allergies. Running nose, sneezing, and watery, itchy eyes can all detract from enjoying the beautiful weather. Approximately 58 million Americans experience some symptoms of seasonal allergies during the spring and summer seasons.  Some of those people wonder, “Can acupuncture treat allergies?”  Many other people turn to antihistamines to provide relief.   That decision results in millions of dollars being spent on anti-allergy medications and allergy shots every year. However, some patients reject the antihistamine strategy.  They find alternative treatments like acupuncture become a way of treating and subduing seasonal allergies.

What Causes Seasonal Allergies

Western medicine describes seasonal allergies as being caused by the immune system hyperactively reacting to the presence of pollen.  It attacks the particles as it would bacteria or a virus.  Many of the immune system’s lymphocytes that interact with the pollen particles are located in the gastrointestinal tract, spleen, lymph nodes, bone marrow, as well as within the bloodstream. Coincidentally, acupuncture often utilizes the Spleen, Stomach, and Large Intestine meridians for treatment.  This may account for potential positive effects on seasonal allergies symptoms. For treating allergies, patients generally receive an initial series of treatments, and further booster treatments as needed.

Acupuncture for Allergies study

A study that potentially supports the use of acupuncture to treat seasonal allergies was published in 2013. In this study, researchers in Germany studied the efficacy of acupuncture in treating allergy symptoms.  They gathered 422 participants who all suffered from pollen allergies. The participants were broken down into three different groups that received differing amounts of acupuncture for their allergy symptoms. The first group received 12 acupuncture treatments during the study. The second group received 12 fake acupuncture treatments, meaning acupuncture needles were placed in random, non-meaningful acupuncture points. The third group received no acupuncture treatments during the study. All three groups received antihistamines that could be taken as needed.

Results from the Study

After two months, the researchers found that 71% of patients who received the real acupuncture treatments experienced improvement in their allergy symptoms and took less of the antihistamine medicine than the other two groups. However, 56% of participants who received the fake acupuncture treatment, unbeknownst to the participants that the treatments were fake, also reported an improvement in symptoms. The high number of reported improvements from the fake acupuncture group suggests that a strong placebo effect might have affected participants’ perceptions of improvement experienced. Furthermore, four months later, researchers found less pronounced differences in improvement between the three groups, further suggesting that participants’ expectations of acupuncture’s effects could have influenced reports of symptom improvement.

Some still question the report

Still, regardless of some evidence that a placebo effect was occurring amongst participants, the results of the study still suggest that acupuncture might help to alleviate some symptoms on seasonal allergies. At any rate, the 2013 study opens up the possibility and consideration of further investigation in the matter. Acupuncture can help patients feel better by being paired with traditional Western methods or by providing a safe alternative for patients who otherwise experience no relief or undesirable side effects from conventional Western medication. For those who want to answer the question, can acupuncture treat allergies, can do it themselves.  They can track of their symptoms before and after treatments, recording their number of sneezes per day or bouts of itchy, watery eyes. Future studies someday may better illuminate whether acupuncture can definitively alleviate symptoms of seasonal allergies.

So if you are interested in treating seasonal allergies with acupuncture, speak with a professional at RiverWest. Patients can ask the acupuncturists about their past success rates and experiences and in treating allergy symptoms. RiverWest Acupuncture in Portland, OR can help you better enjoy the beautiful spring weather and flora.
To read more about this study, click here.

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