Acupressure in patients with seasonal allergic rhinitis: a randomized controlled exploratory trial

Chin Med. 2021 Dec 18;16(1):137. doi: 10.1186/s13020-021-00536-w.


Background: Acupuncture has shown beneficial effects for seasonal allergic rhinitis (SAR); however, it is time and cost intensive. We investigated feasibility and effects of self-administered body acupressure as a self-care technique that stimulates acupuncture points with manual pressure in SAR patients.

Methods: We conducted a two-armed randomized controlled exploratory trial to compare effects of self-administered acupressure over 4 weeks at five acupuncture points plus rescue medication (RM) with cetirizine compared to RM alone in SAR patients. Among other outcome parameters, we assessed disease-related quality of life (Rhinitis Quality of Life Questionnaire [RQLQ]), overall SAR symptoms by a visual analogue scale (VAS) and a rescue medication score (RMS) after 4 and 8 weeks.

Results: Forty-one SAR patients (mean age 38.5 ± 10.0 years, n = 21, 51.2% women) were randomized. Compared to RM alone (n = 21), acupressure plus RM (n = 20) was associated with relevant improvements after 4 weeks, shown by the difference between groups in adjusted means of RQLQ: - 0.9 points (95% CI - 1.6 to - 0.2; p = 0.011) and VAS overall SAR symptoms: - 21.6 mm (95% CI - 36.3 to - 6.8; p = 0.005). The RMS was lower in the acupressure group than in the control group: 1.9 points (95% CI - 3.8 to - 0.1; p = 0.120). Group differences decreased slightly until week 8. The acupressure was feasible and safe.

Conclusion: Results of this exploratory study indicate that self-applied acupressure is feasible, may improve disease-specific quality of life and reduce disease-related symptoms as well as anti-allergic medication intake in SAR patients. High-quality confirmatory studies including a sham-control group are needed in the future. Trial registration DRKS-ID: DRKS00014310. Date of registration in DRKS: 2018/04/24. Investigator sponsored/initiated trial (IST/IIT): yes. Ethics approval/approval of the ethics committee: Approved (leading) Ethics Committee No. EA1/033/18, Ethik-Kommission der Charité -Universitätsmedizin Berlin. URL:

Keywords: Acupressure; Chinese medicine; Rhinitis quality of life; Seasonal allergic rhinitis.

Associated data

  • DRKS/DRKS00014310