Medical Research

Acupuncture for Allergic Rhinitis

Kristen Sparrow • May 30, 2015

This article is from the group in Berlin, and back ground for a subsequent blog post.  Their conclusion was that acupuncture was effective, but not cost effective.  I would argue that they didn’t run the experiment long enough.  In my own case, my allergies have been under control for decades since my original acupuncture treatment series for allergic rhinitis.

Ann Allergy Asthma Immunol. 2013 Jul;111(1):56-63.Cost-effectiveness for acupuncture in seasonal allergic rhinitis: economic results of the ACUSAR trial.
Author information
  • 1Institute for Social Medicine, Epidemiology and Health Economics, Charité – University Medical Center, Berlin, Germany.

Allergic rhinitis (AR) is a frequent allergic disorder with a significant economic effect on health care costs and productivity.


To assess the cost-effectiveness of acupuncture for patients with seasonal AR (SAR) in Germany.


The present analysis was part of the Acupuncture in Seasonal Allergic Rhinitis (ACUSAR) trial, a 3-arm randomized, controlled, multicenter trial in patients with SAR, comparing acupuncture plus rescue medication (RM), penetrating sham acupuncture plus RM, and a control group receiving RM alone. Measures for health economic analyses were costs and health-related quality of life. Incremental cost-effectiveness ratio was calculated for different scenarios on the duration of acupuncture effects and was expressed as costs per quality-adjusted life-year gained. The study was conducted from society’s and from a third-party payer’s perspective.


From 422 initially randomized patients, a total of 364 patients with complete data on costs and quality of life were included in the health economic evaluation. Patients receiving acupuncture or sham acupuncture caused higher costs than patients in the RM group. Patients in the acupuncture group gained significantly more quality-adjusted life-years compared with the RM group. Depending on different scenarios, the incremental cost-effectiveness ratio for acupuncture patients was between €31,241 (approximately US $38.569) and €118,889 (approximately US $146,777) from society’s perspective and between €20,807 (approximately US $25,688) and €74,585 (approximately US $92.080) from a third-party payer’s perspective.


Acupuncture is an effective intervention that results in improved quality of life in patients with SAR. However, in times of limited resources for health care, acupuncture for AR may not be a cost-effective intervention.