Acupuncture For Allergies
Acupuncture For Allergies
Allergies happen when an individual’s immune system becomes intolerant to a substance the body comes in contact with. The substance is called an allergen and it can be airborne or can be something the body contacts through touching the skin. Many people treat allergies with a variety of allergy medication. Others, however, have turned to acupuncture to manage their allergy symptoms.
Acupuncture as a centuries’ old practice of inserting small, sterile needles into the skin at specific acu-points on the body. There are more than two thousand acupuncture points, some of which affect the way that the immune system responds to allergens.
Acupuncture for Pollen Allergies
There was one study, published out of the journal Annals of Internal Medicine in 2013 that indicated acupuncture may be helpful for those suffering from pollen allergies. A total of 422 German participants enrolled in the study, each of whom suffered from pollen allergies. The people ranged in age from 16 years of age to 45 years of age.
The participants were separated into three groups. One group received a total of twelve acupuncture treatments designed to reduce allergy symptoms. The second group was given “sham” therapy, in which needles were inserted in places that weren’t acupuncture sites. The third group was given a course of antihistamines in order to manage their allergy symptoms.
The study continued for a total of two months with each of the groups receiving continual therapy with acupuncture, sham therapy, or antihistamines. The results of the study revealed that 71 percent of the acupuncture-treated patient showed an improvement in their allergy symptoms and a reduction in the need to take antihistamines to control the residual symptoms.
Unfortunately, 55 percent of those who received sham therapy also reported a reduction in symptomatology. This study suggests that some of the effectiveness of acupuncture in treating allergy symptoms may have been due to the placebo effect.
The study continued for an additional two months for a total of four months. The differences in the various groups became less apparent as they had been in the beginning. This might mean that patients had certain expectations of acupuncture therapy that interfered with their perception of allergy symptoms and the responsiveness of acupuncture to control these symptoms.
Even though the study did not show a remarkable difference between those who had acupuncture and those who had sham therapy or antihistamines alone, it was apparent that acupuncture did do something to affect their symptoms, even if it was not much above those who received sham therapy.
Of more interest is the fact that the American Academy of Acupuncture indicates that acupuncture may be a good complementary therapy to western medical practices used to treat seasonal allergic rhinitis and sinusitis. The number of antihistamines the patients had to take after undergoing acupuncture therapy was significantly decreased, which means less side effects of the medication.
The American Academy of Medical Acupuncture Suggestions
According to experts at the American Academy of Medical Acupuncture, symptoms of watery, itchy eyes, runny nose, and sneezing that occur during the spring and fall seasons can be effectively managed with acupuncture. These patients are otherwise spending millions of dollars on the use of medication or the taking of allergy shots for the management of these seasonal allergies.
According to Western medical theory, seasonal allergies are a type of immediate hypersensitivity reaction, occurring when an individual produces antibodies (by the lymphocytes) in response to the various allergens seen in the spring and fall. The lymphocytes can be found in the bone marrow, spleen, bloodstream, gastrointestinal tract, and lymph nodes.
In terms of acupuncture, this means that the acupuncture sites used are those that specifically relate to the stomach, large intestines, and spleen. This means that the needles are placed at acupuncture sites correlating with these body areas. According to Traditional Chinese Medicine, eating sweets are particularly detrimental to the spleen and it is often recommended, along with acupuncture, that the individual refrain from eating sweets when the symptoms are at their most severe.
There is often a rapid response to acupuncture when it is used to treat seasonal allergies. Many patients have instant relief after just one acupuncture treatment. When asked to score the degree of nasal stuffiness the patients had, those who received acupuncture had decreased scores of nasal stuffiness when compared to patients who simply take antihistamines for the management of their symptoms.