Acupuncture and Acupressure to treat hay fever
Practitioners use both acupuncture and acupressure to treat hayfever. Acupuncture originated in China more than 2,000 years ago. It is a system of complementary medicine in which fine needles are inserted in the skin at very specific points of the body (acupuncture points) along channels known as meridians. It is used in the treatment of various physical and mental conditions, including allergies such as hayfever.
Acupressure is a non-invasive form of acupuncture, achieved by applying physical pressure of hands, elbows, feet or devices to the same acupuncture points. It too is used in a wide variety of conditions including hayfever.
Both forms of treatment are based on the belief that the body’s energy or life force, known as Qi (pronounced chee) flows along the meridians and when it can’t flow freely, illness – for example hayfever – occurs. Stimulating the key pressure points by applying acupuncture or acupressure is believed to adjust and alter Qi, thus restoring the body’s natural balance.
Acupressure bands are a relatively recent arrival on the market and are specifically designed for allergy. The Qu-Chi Acupressure Band, invented by an acupuncturist, holds a specially shaped button on the elbow, at the acupressure point used to help reduce allergy symptoms. Since the point they apply pressure to is called Qu-Chi, the band takes its name from that point. Their particular benefit is that they allow patients to use acupressure themselves, without having to find a practitioner, so it’s an easy and relatively inexpensive way of trying it out. They are suitable for use by children and adults – except pregnant women. More information, including testimonials from customers, may be found on this website.
Possible side-effects from acupuncture Any side effects are extremely rare and, typically, short-lived. Those that have been reported include local pain, bleeding and/or bacterial infection where needles puncture the skin; infections in other parts of the body; drowsiness; and worsening of pre-existing symptoms. Serious side effects have included accidental puncture of the lung; and viral hepatitis, a potentially serious infection of the liver, but as stated above, these are extremely rare. Generally, side effects seem to relate to poor hygiene and training of the acupuncturist.
Does it work? Very little scientific evidence exists to show that acupuncture works for hay fever, or for many of the other conditions that acupuncturists treat. There is none at all for the existence of meridians or Qi. However, there is a great deal of anecdotal evidence for its benefits across a range of conditions. For example, it is said to strengthen the immune system and help regulate the body’s immune response; which may be what is in play when it’s used to treat hayfever. Some people have claimed it increases patients’ energy levels, which could be a bonus if you find that taking drugs for your allergy leave you feeling lethargic or sleepy. And according to some practitioners, nasal congestion, discharge, and itching can be relieved during the first acupuncture treatment, and lasting relief from allergy symptoms can be achieved in up to six treatments.
Of course, just because there’s no formal, scientific evidence that acupressure can treat hay fever doesn’t mean it doesn’t work. It may well be worth trying, particularly if you are looking for a drug-free treatment or you’ve tried several other therapies and found nothing that works. But do be aware of the potential advantages and disadvantages – and the cost. Although National Institute for Health and Care Excellence (NICE), the NHS rationing body, allows acupuncture treatment on the NHS, it only does so for persistent lower back pain, so if you want to use acupuncture or acupressure to treat your hay fever or other allergy, you will have to pay for it yourself.
Other than the small chance of side-effects, then, the only disadvantage of using acupuncture and acupressure to treat hay fever, it seems, is that they might not work. They should be safe if performed by a registered and fully trained practitioner. The NHS website advises anyone choosing to have acupuncture or acupressure to make sure that their practitioner is fully qualified and practises the treatment under safe and hygienic conditions.
The British Council of Acupuncture is the regulatory body for acupuncturists in the UK. You can find a local, registered practitioner through their website
The British Medical Acupuncture Society is a registered charity established to encourage the use and scientific understanding of acupuncture within medicine for the public benefit. Their website can be found by clicking here