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J Altern Complement Med. 2009 Apr;15(4):391-8. doi: 10.1089/acm.2008.0471.

Impact of acupuncture on vasomotor rhinitis: a randomized placebo-controlled pilot study.

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Multidisciplinary Pain Centre, Department of Anaesthesiology, University of Munich, Germany.



Chronic rhinitis without an allergic or infectious etiology (vasomotor rhinitis) is a common disease for which there are only few and not very effective therapeutic treatment options. The current placebo-controlled, partially double-blinded pilot study evaluated the effects of acupuncture on the symptoms of vasomotor rhinitis.


A total of 24 patients with confirmed diagnosis of vasomotor rhinitis were randomly allocated to either acupuncture or sham laser acupuncture treatment. The sham laser was a deactivated laser pen beaming normal red light. The main outcome measure was the alteration of the nasal sickness score (NSS; score(max) 27 points). Secondary outcome measures were the evaluation of a subjective symptoms score by patients' diaries and of their quality of life (SF-12 health survey). A credibility assessment regarding the respective treatment was performed. The study is registered as an International Standard Randomised Controlled Trial, number NCT00682162.


NSS of patients treated by acupuncture was significantly reduced from 9.3 +/- 3.89 to 4.1 +/- 3.20 points (p < 0.001), whereas NSS declined from 5.6 +/- 2.74 to 3.7 +/- 2.61 points after sham treatment (p < 0.05). Comparison between the groups revealed a significant change of NSS (Mann-Whitney, p < 0.01), an analysis that also considers the significant difference between the baseline values of both groups (p < 0.05). Secondary outcome measures did not show significant differences between both groups. The credibility assessment was comparable for both treatments.


This pilot study showed significant effects of acupuncture compared to a sham treatment in the NSS on symptoms of vasomotor rhinitis. These results may justify the performance of a large randomized trial to strengthen our understanding of the therapeutic value of acupuncture in the treatment of vasomotor rhinitis.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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