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Can needles help hayfever?
Last updated at 14:55 31 August 2004

Acupuncture is being hailed as a treatment for the thousands of people who suffer the misery of hayfever every year.
New research, published in the journal Allergy, shows the ancient Chinese medicine can dramatically reduce symptoms such as a runny nose and itchy eyes. Researchers found that when they used acupuncture needles with a Chinese herbal medicine, the number of patients feeling better was double that in a group not given the treatment.
The UK has around 13 million hayfever sufferers. They endure an annual misery ranging from mild symptoms, such as a runny nose, to more severe complications, such as asthma attacks.
One in four sufferers is thought to be sensitive to birch pollen, which contaminates the air in early spring. The birch pollen season usually lasts about a month, giving way to grass pollen allergies from May and June onwards.
Most people with hayfever rely on over-the-counter medicines, such as eye drops and antihistamines, to relieve symptoms. But the discomfort can affect their work, social life and even relationships.
For years, researchers have debated whether alternative therapies, such as acupuncture, have any role in the treatment of allergies. Practised in China for over 3,000 years, acupuncture is believed to work on a range of illnesses by balancing the body’s energy to treat and prevent disease.
Tiny sterile needles are gently inserted into selected points, known as acupoints, on the skin. This is said to balance the flow of vital energy – known as Qi (pronounced “chee”).
The body has more than 300 acupoints and acupuncturists use them according to what the problem is.
To see if hayfever sufferers would benefit, researchers at the University of Erlangen in Nuremberg, Germany, and the Charite University Medical Centre in Berlin, recruited 52 hayfever sufferers aged between 20 and 58.
Half received a sixweek treatment regime that combined weekly acupuncture with herbal medicine every day, while the other half had needles inserted into non-acupoints and were given a non-active herbal formula.
The results showed that 85% of those on acupuncture and herbal medicine reported an improvement in well-being, compared to just 40% in the other group.
A spokeswoman for the British Acupuncture Council said the study proved what practitioners already knew. “Every summer, each practitioner in the UK will treat at least two or three hayfever sufferers,” she said. “The symptoms can be helped quite substantially.”
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Written by Katheryne

March 26th, 2015 at 7:21 pm

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