Acupuncture was shown to reduce symptoms of seasonal allergic rhinitis (SAR). The present study investigated (a) whether autonomic function would differ in SAR patients and healthy controls, and (b) whether acupuncture treatment would evoke changes in autonomic function compared to sham acupuncture.
PATIENTS AND METHODS:
SAR patients (n = 30) were recruited from a larger randomized controlled trial investigating the efficacy of acupuncture in SAR. 21 patients received acupuncture, and 9 patients received sham acupuncture. Among other we measured resting heart rate variability and cardiovascular reactivity to a cold pressure test prior to and after 12 sessions of acupuncture or sham acupuncture. In addition, 30 age- and sex-matched healthy controls were tested once.
SAR patients showed higher resting heart rate and lower heart rate variability as well as blunted cardiovascular responses compared to controls. After treatment, resting heart rate had decreased, and systolic blood pressure response to the cold pressure test had increased in SAR patients. We found no significant differences in autonomic function changes between patients receiving acupuncture or sham acupuncture.
SAR patients showed alterations in autonomic function, which had partially normalized after treatment. However, in this sample we found no specific effect of acupuncture compared to sham acupuncture