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Study on hay fever: acupuncture helps to lower antihistamine doses


Acupuncture relieves hay fever
Scientists at the Charité University Medicine in Berlin had previously shown that regular acupuncture treatments during the hay fever season reduce allergy-specific symptoms. In a secondary analysis of the data, they were able to show that acupuncture also helps to reduce the frequency and duration of medication intake.

Around 18% of German hay fever patients are treated with acupuncture to alleviate their allergy symptoms. Scientists from Charité University Medicine in Berlin had already shown in 2013 in the ACUpuncture in Seasonal Allergic Rhinits (ACUSAR) study that acupuncture treatment can alleviate the symptoms. Now they evaluated the data again in a secondary analysis. (1)

To do this, they evaluated data from 414 patients. These were randomly divided into three groups. The subjects received either acupuncture (n = 201) or Scehein acupuncture treatments (n = 90) for eight weeks at the beginning of the pollen season. The third group (n = 98) could only use emergency medication in the form of oral antihistamines, but this should not exceed a maximum dose of 20 mg per day. Oral antihistamines were also approved in the other two groups. The scientists advised the patients to use preparations containing cetirizine. Oral corticosteroids were allowed in particularly severe individual cases.

After eight weeks, the subjects changed the group. The subjects in the third group received twelve acupuncture sessions for eight weeks, while the participants in the first two groups received no treatment but could use emergency oral medication if necessary. At the beginning, after the eighth and after the sixteenth week, the allergy-specific symptoms and quality of life as well as details on the potential use of antihistamines were documented in a questionnaire.

Compared to the beginning of the study, the days of taking medication in the acupuncture group were reduced by 0.92 days after eight weeks. There was a slight increase of 4.22 days in the placebo acupuncture group. In the group without treatment, the number of days requiring emergency medication even increased significantly by 9.52.

In the acupuncture group, the number of days on which antihistamines were used was reduced on average by 4.49 days in the first eight weeks compared to the placebo acupuncture group and by 9.15 days compared to the group without treatment. The number of patients in the acupuncture group taking antihistamines was also lower than among the study participants in the other two groups (acupuncture: 60%, placebo acupuncture: 71%, no treatment: 82%). Source: Carstens Foundation

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