Acupuncture hayfever therapy to address the sneezes, sniffles and snorts of spring

acupuncture hayfever

Acupuncture hayfever therapy has strong evidence to support it as a “non pharmacological therapy” 1

There is strong level evidence supporting the use of acupuncture hayfever therapy to help address this taxing condition – common in the spring, but possible at any time of the year.

Relief is at hand for those enduring the misery of hayfever that doesn’t involve taking pills or sprays up the nose.

What is the history behind acupuncture hayfever therapy?

There is a long tradition of acupuncture and Chinese medicine being used as a treatment for hayfever or allergic rhinitis.

According to Chinese medicine theory, ‘disease’ is classified as being ‘acute’ (sudden onset) or ‘chronic’ (recurrent).

It is also possible to have a chronic presentation of recurrent acute conditions.

Allergic rhinitis, or hayfever, falls neatly into this classification as it is possible to experience hayfever which is either acute or chronic.

The information on this page mostly relates to chronic allergic rhinitis/hayfever and acupuncture hayfever therapy.

From a ‘Western’/biomedical perspective, how is allergic rhinitis/hayfever classified?

The word ‘rhinitis’ is Latin.  ‘Rhino’ means nose and anything with ‘itis’ refers to inflammation – so rhinitis is the inflammation of the nose.

Symptoms associated with rhinitis include profuse mucus discharge from the nose and sneezing.  Other symptoms, depending on the source of the rhinitis, may include fever, inflamed eyes and itch.

Rhinitis is classified according to its cause:

  • allergic/IgE mediated rhinitis:  this used to be classified as being seasonal (certain times of the year) and perennial (all through the year) but now it is classified as ‘intermittent’ or ‘persistent’.  The idea of intermittent or persistent allergic rhinitis fits the Chinese medicine idea that allergic rhinitis/hayfever can be ‘acute’ or ‘chronic’ in nature
  • autonomic rhinitis:  can be caused by taking certain drugs, and under-active thyroid or hormonal fluctuations
  • infectious rhinitis:  is caused by bacterial or fungal infections
  • idiopathic rhinitis:  has no known cause and may also benefit from acupuncture hayfever therapy.

How does the acupuncture and Chinese medicine practitioner approach acupuncture hayfever therapy?

The first thing your practitioner will want to know is how your allergic rhinitis/hayfever presents for you.  This may include questions around:

  • timing:  does you allergic rhinitis/hayfever come at certain times of the year or at certain times of the day or night?
  • symptoms:  is there sneezing, watery eyes, itchy nose and throat?  Is there fever associated with your allergic rhinitis/hayfever or do you feel otherwise well – just congested?
  • history:  is this something you have lived with all your life or is it a recent thing?  Do other people in your family suffer with allergic rhinitis/hayfever?

Acupuncture hayfever therapy requires detailed questioning and careful analysis of signs and symptoms.  Your practitioner may also ask questions around other areas of your health.

Will the acupuncture and Chinese medicine practitioner only ask questions about my allergic rhinitis/hayfever?

The skill of a good acupuncture and Chinese medicine practitioner is always to take a detailed case history.

The purpose of this case history is to place your signs and symptoms into a context.  Context includes a timeline of your condition.

Context also includes other signs and symptoms you experience – both during an outbreak of your allergic rhinitis, but also when you are not ill.

These questions may focus on whether you experience low energy or fatigue, other illness (like head colds or the ‘flu), sweating and even your bowels.

The point of all this is that in crafting an acupuncture hayfever treatment strategy the practitioner must first arrive an a Chinese medicine diagnosis.

What happens once all this information has been gathered (the Chinese medicine diagnosis)?

Your Brisbane acupuncturist Peter Kington, will take the information he has gathered and analyse it.

The basis of Chinese medicine treatment is to construct a Chinese medicine diagnosis.

The Chinese medicine diagnosis is unique to the practice of acupuncture and Chinese medicine.

Upon creating a Chinese medicine diagnosis, the practitioner then develops a principle of treatment.

The principle of treatment is the part of the Chinese medicine diagnosis which guides the practitioner in the selection of appropriate acupuncture points when providing acupuncture hayfever therapy.

The Chinese medicine diagnosis does not replace any medical diagnosis you have received from your GP or specialist.

The Chinese medicine diagnosis sits alongside your medial diagnosis and is there, solely, to guide the acupuncturist in delivering a treatment designed to address your presenting signs and symptoms.

What evidence is there to support acupuncture hayfever treatment?

The Australian published comparative literature review, the Acupuncture Evidence Project, lists the evidence supporting acupuncture hayfever treatment as moderate 2 .  This summary of evidence built on earlier evidence summaries which demonstrate the effectiveness of acupuncture hayfever treatment.

The Australian Department of Veterans Affairs 3 published a review of evidence in 2010 which rated acupuncture hayfever therapy as ‘effective’.

A similar summary in 2014 by the United States Department of Veterans’ Affairs listed the evidence as being ‘unclear’  4

A 2015 systematic review 5 rated the evidence for acupuncture as a “safe and valid treatment option for allergic rhinitis” as being of moderate quality.

A systematic review containing high quality randomised controlled trials 6 concluded that the evidence supporting acupuncture as an effective treatment of hayfever/allergic rhinitis to be of high quality.

Where can I read more about evidence and what it means for acupuncture practice?

To learn more about what constitutes evidence, the strengths and weaknesses of evidence and the issues around evidence, move over to the FAQ page for a more thorough summary.

What if my condition isn’t listed on this page?

All that means is that there hasn’t been enough research to officially say, “yep it helps”.

Before deciding whether acupuncture hayfever therapy is for you, feel free to give Peter a call to chat about your individual circumstances and his experience or knowledge of your problem

Ready to book your first consultation?

Peter Kington, Brisbane acupuncture practitioner, offers a range of days and appointment times for your first and follow-up consultations. Call (07) 3367 1150 or contact Peter here and he or an associate will call you back, have a quick chat about your needs and find a mutually convenient time for your first appointment.

  1. Seidman MD, Gurgel RK, Lin SY, Schwartz SR, Baroody FM, Bonner JR, et al. Clinical practice guideline: Allergic rhinitis. Otolaryngol Head Neck Surg. 2015 Feb;152(1 Suppl):S1-43.
  2.  MacDonald J, Janz S.  The Acupuncture Evidence Project:  A Comparative Literature Review (revised evition).  Brisbane:  Australian Acupuncture and Chinese Medicine Association Ltd;  2017.
  3. Biotext. Alternative therapies and Department of Veterans’ Affairs Gold and White Card arrangements. In: Australian Government Department of Veterans’ Affairs, editor: Australian Government Department of Veterans’ Affairs; 2010.
  4. Hempel S, Taylor SL, Solloway MR, Miake-Lye IM, Beroes JM, Shanman R, et al. VA Evidence-based Synthesis Program Reports. Evidence Map of Acupuncture. Washington (DC): Department of Veterans Affairs; 2014.
  5. Feng S, Han M, Fan Y, Yang G, Liao Z, Liao W, et al. Acupuncture for the treatment of allergic rhinitis: a systematic review and meta-analysis. Am J Rhinol Allergy. 2015 Jan-Feb;29(1):57-62.
  6. Taw MB, Reddy WD, Omole FS, Seidman MD. Acupuncture and allergic rhinitis. Curr Opin Otolaryngol Head Neck Surg. 2015 Jun;23(3):216-20.