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  • Writer's pictureAku Energija

Acupuncture and Chinese Medicine for Allergic Rhinitis

Updated: Apr 15

Allergic rhinitis, commonly known as hay fever, affects around 10-40% of the population worldwide and can have a substantial health and economic impact on the community (Sibbald 1991). The condition can affect several organ systems, and cause many symptoms. Typical symptoms include sneezing, nasal itching, nasal blockage, and watery nasal discharge (Lund 1994). Other symptoms include eye symptoms (e.g. red eyes, itchy eyes, tearing), coughing, wheezing and shortness of breath, oral allergy syndrome (i.e. an itchy, swollen oropharynx on eating stoned fruits), and systemic symptoms such as tiredness, fever, a pressure sensation in the head, and itchiness. Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM), including acupuncture, herbal medicine, and dietary therapy, offers an alternative approach to managing allergic rhinitis. This article focuses on the efficacy and mechanisms of acupuncture and Chinese medicine in treating allergic rhinitis.

Acupuncture for Allergic Rhinitis

Acupuncture, a key component of TCM, involves the insertion of thin needles at specific points on the body to stimulate energy flow or "Qi." Several studies have explored the effectiveness of acupuncture in relieving symptoms associated with allergic rhinitis:

Evidence from systematic reviews suggests that acupuncture and moxibustion may be a safe and effective treatment for allergic rhinitis with benefits over conventional medicine (Xiao 2009), that acupuncture can help to relieve symptoms of perennial rhinitis (Lee 2009) and that ear acupressure has a similar efficacy to antihistamines (Zhang 2010). However, the reviews also state that the evidence is mixed and the trials generally of poor quality and that more high-quality randomised controlled trials are needed to assess the effectiveness of acupuncture for allergic rhinitis, particularly seasonal (hay fever).(Roberts 2008; Lee 2009; Xiao 2009; Zhang 2010). Recent randomised controlled trials have found that acupuncture used as an adjunct to routine care for allergic rhinitis has clinically relevant and persistent benefits (Brinkhaus 2008) and is cost effective (Witt 2009). Such trials have also found that acupuncture is effective in the symptomatic treatment of perennial rhinitis (Xue 2007) and that active acupuncture is more effective than sham acupuncture in decreasing the symptom scores for persistent allergic rhinitis and increasing the symptom-free days (Ng 2004). 

Chinese Herbal Medicine for Allergic Rhinitis

In addition to acupuncture, Chinese herbal medicine offers a holistic approach to managing allergic rhinitis. To treat allergies, practitioners must identify the causes of the reactions and symptoms. Practitioners help to identify and treat the underlying causes of allergies. This helps to control your body’s reactions and to prevent the relapse of more allergies. Herbal formulations are tailored to individual patient presentations. Some commonly used herbs for allergic rhinitis include Xanthium fruit 蒼耳子,  Nagnoliae Flos 辛荑花, and Forsythia fruit連翹.

Dietary Therapy and Lifestyle Recommendations For Allergic Rhinitis

TCM practitioners may also recommend dietary modifications and lifestyle changes to support overall health and manage allergic rhinitis symptoms. In general, allergies are caused by cold and damp, so we want to avoid foods that carry these energies:

  • Cold drinks

  • Raw vegetables and salads

  • Dairy products

  • Concentrated and refined sugars

  • Fruits that cause dampness like citrus, bananas, and melons

In addition, avoid eating 2-3 hours before bed, and stop eating when you’re 70% full to ease the energy strain on your body. 

Acupuncture Near Me for Allergic Rhinitis

Acupuncture and Chinese medicine offer a comprehensive and holistic approach to managing allergic rhinitis symptoms. While people can get some relief from conventional medications, TCM treatment offers a viable alternative without the possible side effects of these medicines. Acupuncture can help reduce the need for emergency treatment for severe allergic reactions, and also help prevent hay fever from recurring, year after year. As with any medical treatment, individuals considering acupuncture or Chinese medicine for allergic rhinitis should consult qualified practitioners to develop personalized treatment plans tailored to their specific needs and health goals.


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