Acupuncture and Chinese Herbal Medicine are often used for a wide range of immune based conditions including allergies, allergic rhinitis and sinusitis. The goal of treatment within Chinese Medicine is not just symptomatic relief but resolution of the causal conditions leading to these issues. This is generally true across the board with Chinese Medicine – see What Does Acupuncture Treat? Treating the Cause and Not The Symptoms for more on that issue.
Recently medical researchers in China conducted a study evaluating the effectiveness of acupuncture vs. loratadine (“claritin”) for allergic rhinitis. They recruited 60 patients suffering from allergies and divided them into an acupuncture treatment group and a western medication treatment group. Within the acupuncture group they were given treatment to three commonly used nasal points – LI 20, Yintang, and Bitong. Both yintang and bitong and what are known as “extra” points or off meridian points that have common usages/effects.
Patients in the acupuncture group were treated every other day, 3x/week, for 4 weeks. The medication group received 10mg of loratidine daily for the length of the study.
At the end of the study researchers found that the total effective rate was 96.7% in the acupuncture group vs. 93.3% in the medication group. What mattered more, however, was at the followup weeks later those in the acupuncture group still had an 86.7% effective rate whereas those in the medication group had a 56.7% effective rate.
Researchers concluded that “the acupuncture therapy presents the obvious advantages on long-term efficacy.”
Further studies would have to be done to see if multiple times weekly treatment is really required or if something more practical like weekly acupuncture or even every other week would be suitable. Certainly in clinical experience we have not needed multiple treatments weekly but have seen strong long term resolution to allergies and related immune issues.