Going under the needle

Updated: 2013-04-03 05:32

By Liu Zhihua (China Daily)

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If you are brave enough to go under the needle, you may find relief from all the sneezing, running or stuffy nose, nasal itching, coughing, headache and fatigue that comes with rhinitis, an allergic condition.

Doctors believe irritation and inflammation of the mucous membrane inside the nose, or a lining of the nasal cavity rich with blood vessels and nerves, causes rhinitis, but it is hard to cure.

However, the China-Japan Friendship Hospital in Beijing announced that its traditional Chinese medicine practitioners might have found a cure, based on TCM acupuncture practice and Western anatomical theories.

"When the vegetative nerve that control nerve endings in the nasal mucous membrane stop working properly, symptoms of rhinitis will occur. If the vegetative nerves are restored to normal function, rhinitis will not be a problem anymore," says Li Shiliang, prime researcher of the new treatment, and director with the hospital's TCM acupuncture and moxibustion department.

Li and his colleagues use specially made acupuncture needles with a miniscule blade on the needle's point to relax ganglions (mass of nerve cell bodies) in the neck, and use regular needles to stimulate another ganglion around the nose at a frequency based on the severity of the patients' symptoms.

When the nasal nerve endings gradually perform normally, the symptoms of rhinitis will improve, Li says.

The treatment is not entirely new. It is an improved version of a treatment that was applied to 130,000 rhinitis patients in the 1950s, Li notes.

To date, the hospital has treated more than 100 patients using the revised method.

Wan Youwei, 38, a Beijing-based executive with a securities company, says he has been receiving the treatment for five weeks, and finds it very effective.

He has suffered rhinitis for about 20 years, during which the winter and spring seasons are the worst times for him.

Wan goes for treatment once a week, and he says that after only three treatments, his condition improved significantly.

"I tried many methods in the past, including laser treatment. I didn't hold much expectation this time," Wan says.

"But it proved to be more efficient than I thought."

However, according to Li, the treatment requires the good acupuncture skills of doctors, as well as the cooperation of patients, and only a skilled acupuncturist can carry out the treatment.

As for patients, those who cannot stay motionless, and have little tolerance of pain may not be able to undergo this treatment.

(China Daily 04/03/2013 page19)