Allergic Rhinitis (Hay Fever)

Allergies can significantly impact a person’s quality of life, causing bothersome symptoms that range from mild discomfort to severe reactions. While conventional treatments like antihistamines and allergy shots are common, some individuals seek alternative approaches like acupuncture to alleviate their allergy symptoms. Acupuncture, rooted in ancient Chinese medicine, offers a natural and holistic way to address various types of allergies. Let’s explore how acupuncture can effectively treat different allergies and their associated symptoms.

Food Allergies

Allergic rhinitis, commonly known as hay fever, is a prevalent allergic condition that affects millions of people worldwide. According to the American College of Allergy, Asthma & Immunology (ACAAI), hay fever affects approximately 20% of the population in the United States alone. This condition is characterised by symptoms such as sneezing, runny nose, nasal congestion, and itchy eyes, and is triggered by allergens such as pollen, dust mites, pet dander, and mould. For those seeking relief from hay fever symptoms, acupuncture offers a promising avenue for managing and alleviating the discomfort caused by this condition.

Environmental Allergies

Acupuncture’s effectiveness in treating hay fever lies in its ability to reduce inflammation in the nasal passages and respiratory system. When allergens trigger an immune response, the body releases histamines and other chemicals that lead to inflammation and allergy symptoms. Acupuncture works by targeting specific acupoints that correspond to the nasal passages and respiratory system. By stimulating these acupoints, acupuncture can promote better respiratory function, improve nasal airflow, and decrease sneezing and congestion.

Allergic Skin Reactions

Numerous studies have explored the efficacy of acupuncture in managing hay fever symptoms. A randomised controlled trial published in the journal Annals of Internal Medicine in 2013 found that acupuncture led to significant improvement in hay fever symptoms compared to sham acupuncture (placebo treatment) or antihistamines alone. Furthermore, the benefits of acupuncture were observed to last for up to 16 weeks after the treatment.

Asthma and Respiratory Allergies

Food allergies affect a considerable number of individuals worldwide and can cause a range of symptoms, from mild discomfort to severe and life-threatening reactions. According to Food Allergy Research & Education (FARE), approximately 32 million Americans have food allergies, with 5.6 million being children under the age of 18. Food allergies occur when the immune system identifies certain proteins in foods as harmful and triggers an allergic response. Common allergenic foods include peanuts, tree nuts, milk, eggs, soy, wheat, fish, and shellfish.

Combining Acupuncture with Other Therapies

Choosing an Acupuncturist

While acupuncture cannot cure food allergies, it may offer benefits in managing associated symptoms and enhancing overall well-being. Acupuncture can modulate the immune response, potentially reducing the severity of allergic reactions to specific foods. Additionally, acupuncture has been shown to have stress-reducing effects, which can be beneficial for individuals with food allergies. Stress can exacerbate allergic reactions, and by promoting relaxation and reducing stress levels, acupuncture may help mitigate the impact of stress on allergic responses.

It is essential to note that individuals with food allergies should always exercise caution and strictly avoid allergenic foods. Acupuncture can complement conventional allergy management, but it should not be used as a standalone treatment for severe food allergies.

Environmental allergies are triggered by allergens present in the surroundings, such as pollen, dust, mould, pet dander, and more. These allergens can lead to symptoms such as sneezing, coughing, wheezing, itchy skin, and eye irritation. Environmental allergies are prevalent and can significantly impact a person’s quality of life.

Acupuncture can provide relief for individuals suffering from environmental allergies by promoting a balanced immune response and reducing inflammation in the body. By targeting specific acupoints, acupuncture helps regulate the immune system’s reactivity to allergens, thereby lessening the severity of allergy symptoms.

Moreover, acupuncture’s therapeutic effects on the nervous system may also contribute to allergy relief. Stress can exacerbate allergy symptoms, and acupuncture’s ability to induce relaxation and reduce stress levels can be advantageous for individuals with environmental allergies. A study published in the journal Annals of Internal Medicine in 2013 found that acupuncture improved the quality of life in patients with allergic rhinitis by reducing both allergy symptoms and stress levels.


Allergic skin reactions, such as eczema and urticaria (hives), can significantly impact a person’s quality of life, causing intense itching, redness, and irritation. According to the American Academy of Allergy, Asthma & Immunology (AAAAI), eczema affects around 10% to 20% of infants and 3% of adults and children in the United States. Hives, on the other hand, are estimated to affect up to 20% of the population at some point in their lives, as reported by the American College of Allergy, Asthma & Immunology (ACAAI).


Acupuncture offers a holistic approach to managing allergic skin conditions by addressing the underlying imbalances in the body. Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM) views skin issues as manifestations of internal disharmony. By stimulating specific acupoints associated with skin health, acupuncture may help regulate the immune system’s response to allergens and reduce inflammation in the skin. This can lead to improved skin barrier function and a reduction in allergic skin reactions.

Clinical evidence supports the use of acupuncture for allergic skin conditions. A study published in the journal Evidence-Based Complementary and Alternative Medicine in 2013 reviewed several trials and found that acupuncture was effective in reducing the severity and frequency of eczema symptoms. Another study published in the journal International Journal of Dermatology in 2017 reported that acupuncture treatment led to significant improvement in itching, redness, and skin lesions in patients with chronic urticaria (hives).

Asthma and other respiratory allergies affect a substantial number of individuals globally. According to the World Health Organization (WHO), asthma affects approximately 235 million people worldwide. These conditions involve inflammation and constriction of the airways, leading to difficulty breathing, wheezing, and chest tightness.

Acupuncture can play a role in managing asthma and respiratory allergies by promoting better respiratory function and reducing airway inflammation. By targeting specific acupoints, acupuncture helps relax the bronchial muscles, which can alleviate asthma symptoms and enhance overall lung health. Research published in the journal Annals of Internal Medicine in 2017 found that acupuncture led to a clinically significant improvement in asthma-related quality of life and reduced the use of asthma medication in patients with allergic asthma.

It is essential to emphasise that acupuncture is not a substitute for asthma medication or other respiratory allergy treatments prescribed by healthcare professionals. However, it can complement conventional therapies and offer additional support for respiratory health.


For individuals with allergies, acupuncture can be an effective standalone treatment or a complementary therapy to conventional medical approaches. Allergy sufferers need to work closely with their healthcare providers to create a comprehensive treatment plan that may include medications, allergy testing, dietary changes, lifestyle modifications, and acupuncture.


If you are considering acupuncture to manage your allergies, it is crucial to consult a licensed acupuncturist with experience in treating allergies and related symptoms. A skilled acupuncturist will conduct a thorough evaluation of your health history and allergy triggers to create a personalised treatment plan. They will target specific acupoints to address your individual needs and provide ongoing support to help you achieve the best possible outcome.

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