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Acupuncture for persistent allergic rhinitis: a randomised, sham-controlled trial

Charlie C L Xue, Xuedong An, Thomas P Cheung, Cliff Da Costa, George B Lenon, Frank C Thien and David F Story
Med J Aust 2007; 187 (6): 337-341.

Summary

Objective: To investigate the effectiveness and safety of acupuncture in persistent allergic rhinitis (PAR)

Design: Randomised, single-blind, sham-controlled trial conducted from May 2004 to February 2005.

Participants and intervention: 80 patients with PAR (age, 16–70 years) were randomly assigned to receive real or sham acupuncture. After a 1-week baseline period, participants were treated twice weekly for 8 weeks and followed up for another 12 weeks.

Main outcome measures: Nasal obstruction, sneezing, rhinorrhoea and nasal itch were each self-assessed daily on a 5-point scale, and scores were aggregated weekly. The sum of the symptom scores (total nasal symptom score, TNSS) was also determined. A secondary outcome was use of PAR relief medication.

Results: After 8 weeks’ treatment, the weekly mean difference in TNSS from baseline was greater with real (17.2; 95% CI, 24.6 to 9.8) than with sham acupuncture (4.2; 95% CI, 11.0 to 2.7) (P = 0.01). The decrease in individual symptom score was also greater with real acupuncture for rhinorrhoea (P < 0.01) but not the other symptoms. At the end of follow-up, the greater difference in TNSS from baseline in the real acupuncture group was still apparent: real, 21.0 (95% CI, 29.1 to 12.9) versus sham, 2.3 (95% CI, 10.2 to 5.6) (P = 0.001). Moreover, the differences from baseline in all four individual symptom scores were greater for the real than for the sham group (P < 0.05). Real and sham acupuncture were both well tolerated.

Conclusion: Our findings suggest that acupuncture is effective in the symptomatic treatment of PAR.

Trial registration: Australian Government Therapeutic Goods Administration CTN 034/2004.

  • Charlie C L Xue1
  • Xuedong An1
  • Thomas P Cheung1
  • Cliff Da Costa2
  • George B Lenon1
  • Frank C Thien3
  • David F Story4

  • 1 Division of Chinese Medicine, School of Health Sciences, World Health Organization Collaborating Centre for Traditional Medicine, RMIT University, Melbourne, VIC.
  • 2 School of Mathematical and Geospatial Sciences, RMIT University, Melbourne, VIC.
  • 3 Department of Allergy, Immunology and Respiratory Medicine, The Alfred Hospital and Monash University, Melbourne, VIC.
  • 4 School of Health Sciences, RMIT University, Melbourne, VIC.

Correspondence: charlie.xue@rmit.edu.au

Acknowledgements: 

We gratefully acknowledge RMIT University for financial support of the study, Dr Vincent Dinh for medical assessment of participants, Professor Xun Chuan Ji for specialist nasal assessments, staff of the RMIT Chinese Medicine Research Group for their assistance in the conduct of this trial, and Dr Lin Zhang for assistance in proof reading and constructive comments during preparation of the manuscript.

Competing interests:

None identified.

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