Acupuncture, Herbs Ease Hay Fever
Regular sessions of acupuncture and
daily doses of Chinese herbal medicine may help ease the burden
of seasonal allergies, new research indicates.
A group of German investigators
found that hay fever sufferers who received weekly acupuncture
treatments and took three doses of a Chinese herbal formula per
day showed fewer symptoms and were less likely to say their allergy
was infringing on their daily activities than people who received
a placebo treatment.
"There are additional options to
conventional medicine," lead author Dr. Benno Brinkhaus of the
Charite University Medical Center in Berlin stated.
Brinkhaus suggested that people
with seasonal allergies should consider acupuncture and herbs,
but added that they should use it with caution, given that every
treatment has side effects.
According to the report, published
in the journal Allergy, the number of people with hay fever is
growing in industrialized countries, affecting between 10 and
20 percent of the population.
Many of these patients are now
opting for alternative medicine, including Chinese remedies, but
few studies have rigorously examined their effects, Brinkhaus
and colleagues note.
To investigate, the researchers
asked 52 adults with moderate hay fever to try a combination of
acupuncture and Chinese herbs or a placebo treatment. People given
the placebo regimen had needles applied to non-acupuncture sites,
and were given a non-specific Chinese herbal formula.
After 6 weeks, Brinkhaus and colleagues
found that 85 percent of treated participants showed overall improvements
in their hay fever, compared with only 40 percent of the comparison
More specifically, subjects who
received the real treatment were more likely to report that their
symptoms had decreased. They also tended to say their allergies
were having less of an impact on their daily activities, such
as sleep, everyday problems and general health.
People who got the genuine treatment
were also twice as likely to experience a remission of their allergy,
and had a bigger decrease in the number of drugs they took to
relieve hay fever symptoms during the study period.
Patients given the real and sham
treatment were equally likely to report side effects.
Brinkhaus noted that this study
focused on people who already had symptoms, and acupuncture and
herbs may be more effective when used before hay fever kicks in.
SOURCE: Allergy, September 2004.
Reference Source 89
October 20, 2004