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Table 2 Details of included studies

From: A systematic review of the clinical effectiveness of acupuncture for allergic rhinitis

Author, year, place of study Population Intervention/Comparator Outcomes Result summary
Wolkenstein 1996 [16] & Horak 1993 [18] 1998 [17]
18–65 yrs with AR for > 2 yrs
n = 30 randomised (unclear on numbers in each group). Mean age 41 yrs.
Needle acupuncture
Placebo needle was placed away from defined acupoint.
1 session per week, total 9 sessions.
1) Nasal secretions (30 mins)
2) Subjective well-being VAS (15 mins)
3) Subjective symptom score (15 mins)
4) FEV1 (30 mins)
5) Change in the nasal flow (15 mins)
6) Daily symptom diary (two months)
1) + 5)There was no difference in the sum of nasal flows between the groups
2) There was no difference in subjective well being
3) + 6) No difference for symptom score measures or the daily symptom diary scores
4) No difference reported
Langer & Hauswald 1989 [19]
Needle Intervention group n = 22 mean age 33
Laser intervention n = 26 no further details
Control group n = 17 no further details
Needle acupuncture: 3 sessions per week total 9 sessions.
Laser acupuncture: 15 sessions, 5 times per week, 3 weeks
Control: as laser but with laser inactive.
1) Nasal swelling
2) Flow of watery secretions
3) Conjunctivitis
4) Medication use
5) Sneezing
6) Subjective patient report of breathing through the nose
7) Patient judgment
Placebo, acupuncture and laser acupuncture significantly reduced nasal swelling, flow of watery secretions and conjunctivitis at the 2% significance level
No results were reported for subjective patient measure of breathing through the nose or sneezing.
Ng et al 2004 [21]
Hong Kong
> 6 yrs old with symptoms for > 4 weeks and other allergies at two sites.
Intervention group n = 35 ave age 11.7
Control group n = 37 ave age 11
Needle acupuncture
Control needling at less depth 2 sessions per week for 8 weeks (16 sessions)
Follow-up 12 weeks
1) Daily rhinitis score
2) Symptom free days
3) Daily relief medication score
4) Blood eosinophil count
5) Serum IgE levels
6) Adverse events/preference
1) significant reduction in daily symptom score in the intervention group
2) An increase in symptom free days in the intervention group from baseline reported
3–6) There was no change in symptom relief scores between the groups or the serum markers measured.
Magnusson et al 2004 [15]
18–50 yrs old
Intervention n = 20 ave age 35.3
Control n = 20 ave age 35.3
Needle acupuncture
Control acupuncture away from intervention acupoints and shallow needling 12 sessions of 3 needling events in 30 mins.
Follow-up 12 months
1) Allergic symptoms (VAS)
2) Mediation use
3) Allergic symptom due to pollen (VAS)
4) Tiredness during pollen season
5) Depression during pollen season
6) Impaired ability to work (VAS)
7) Serum IgE
1–6) no significant findings between intervention and control groups for any of the outcome measures.
7) Serum IgE levels were found to be reduced in the intervention group for the mugwort allergen, but there were differences in baseline characteristics between the groups.
Williamson et al 1996 [23] UK > 16 yrs with moderate or severe symptoms
Intervention n = 51 ave age 31.9
Control n = 51 ave age 29.9
Needle acupuncture
Control group – needling on the patella
5 minute sessions 3/4 times per week
1) Patients in remission
2) Mean weekly symptom score
3) Units of medication
4) Perceived effect of acupuncture
1)+2) no changes in remission of symptoms over the course of the study or weekly symptom score
3) There was no difference between medication use score
4) There was no difference between perceived effect
Petti et al 2002 [20]
22–45 yrs with > 2 yrs symptoms Group A: Plasma reference control. Healthy individuals n = 30 22–42 yrs
Group B1: Intervention. n = 30 22–45 yrs
Group B2: Sham Intervention n = 30 24–45 yrs
Group B3: patient control no intervention. n = 30 age not clear
Needle acupuncture with electrostimulation of the needle once in place.
In the intervention group the needles in points ST36 and LI4 were electrostimulated with pulsating waves for 15 mins.
All sessions lasted ~20 mins
1) Symptom score (5-point scoring system)
2) Serum cytokine measurements for IL-2, IL-6 and IL-10
Measures were taken 2 hrs and 24 hrs after treatment
1) Groups B1 and B2 showed an improvement in symptom scores after acupuncture despite B2 receiving sham acupuncture.
2) Serum IL-2 cytokine levels were increased after 24 hours in the reference control group and group B1. However all values were still within the normal range Serum IL-6 levels did not change in any groups over the 24 hrs.
Serum IL-10 levels were significantly reduced in the active intervention group
Xue et al 2002 [22]
Age range 18–70 years > 2 years duration
Group A: n = 17 subjects, ave age 44
Group B: n = 13 subjects, ave age 44
Needle acupuncture administered 3 times a week for 4 weeks, sessions lasted 25 minutes.
Sham group received shorter needles.
1) Severity symptom score
2) Relief medication score
3) Side effects
1) There was a significant improvement in post treatment symptom severity scores between intervention and control groups
2) One patient in each group required relief medication – no analysis was performed.
3) no side effects reported