Allergic rhinitis

Allergic rhinitis (perennial and seasonal) affects around 10-40% of the population worldwide. The condition can affect several organ systems, and cause many symptoms, including sneezing, nasal itching, nasal blockage, and watery nasal discharge. Other symptoms include eye symptoms (e.g., red eyes, itchy eyes, tearing), coughing, wheezing and shortness of breath, oral allergy syndrome (i.e. an itchy, swollen oropharynx on eating stoned fruits), and systemic symptoms such as tiredness, fever, a pressure sensation in the head, and itchiness.

In general, acupuncture is believed to stimulate the nervous system and cause the release of neurochemical messenger molecules. The resulting biochemical changes influence the body’s homeostatic mechanisms, thus promoting physical and emotional well-being. Stimulation of certain acupuncture points has been shown to affect areas of the brain that are known to reduce sensitivity to pain and stress.

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Acupuncture may help to relieve pain and congestion in people with allergic rhinitis by:

  • regulating levels of IgE and cytokines, mediators of the allergic reaction to extrinsic allergens

  • stimulating nerves located in muscles and other tissues, which leads to release of endorphins and other neurohumoral factors, and changes the processing of pain in the brain and spinal cord.

  • reducing inflammation, by promoting release of vascular and immunomodulatory factors.

  • enhancing natural killer cell activities and modulating the number and ratio of immune cell types.

  • increasing local microcirculation, which aids dispersal of  swelling.