Anti-histamines Promote Electroacupuncture Analgesia: Basic and Clinical Research


Acupuncture has been used in traditional Chinese medicine for around 3,000 years and is increasingly practiced worldwide. The effects of acupuncture in chronic pain have been investigated in many clinical trials. Histamine H1 receptor antagonists are commonly used for treating allergy. Recently, investigators found that histamine H1 receptor antagonists at relatively low doses facilitate EA analgesia in the acetic acid-induced abdominal writhing test. Investigators aim to further explore whether histamine H1 receptor antagonists also facilitate EA analgesia in humans.The aims of the proposed studies are to: Conduct a clinical trial to demonstrate that H1 receptor antagonists at relatively low doses facilitate EA analgesia in healthy volunteers. This study will recruit 40 healthy normal subjects (aged between 20 and 30 years) who will be randomly assigned to one of four groups: (1) Sham acupuncture (Shallow needling without electrical stimulation) at ST36 and GB34; (2) EA at ST36 and GB34; (3) EA at ST36 and GB34 plus low-dose chlorpheniramine (2 mg); (4) EA at ST36 and GB34 plus regular-dose chlorpheniramine (4 mg). The primary endpoint will be the pain threshold. It is expected that the completion of this proposed study will enhance our knowledge as to how acupuncture analgesia can be promoted by antihistamine drugs given at a low dose and help to define its application for clinical use.

Study Type

  • Study Type: Interventional
  • Study Design
    • Allocation: Randomized
    • Intervention Model: Parallel Assignment
    • Primary Purpose: Basic Science
    • Masking: None (Open Label)
  • Study Primary Completion Date: June 27, 2019


  • Device: electroacupuncture
    • Group 2 (n=10) EA at ST36 and GB34;intensity (2 mA), pulse width (1 ms), frequency (2 Hz)
  • Drug: antihistamine(low dose) chlorpheniramine (Dexchlorpheniramine maleate)
    • Group 3 (n=10) EA at ST36 and GB34 plus chlorpheniramine (Dexchlorpheniramine maleate 2mg/tab, 1 tab);intensity (2 mA), pulse width (1 ms), frequency (2 Hz)
  • Drug: antihistamine(high dose) chlorpheniramine (Dexchlorpheniramine maleate)
    • Group 4 (n=10) EA at ST36 and GB34 plus chlorpheniramine (Dexchlorpheniramine maleate2mg/tab, 2 tabs);intensity (2 mA), pulse width (1 ms), frequency (2 Hz)
  • Device: acupuncture
    • Minimal needling at ST36 and GB34

Arms, Groups and Cohorts

  • Sham Comparator: sham EA group
    • Minimal needling at ST36 and GB34 (n=10)
  • Experimental: true EA group
    • EA at ST36 and GB34 (n=10)
  • Active Comparator: EA+antihistamine(low dose) group
    • EA at ST36 and GB34 plus low-dose chlorpheniramine( Dexchlorpheniramine maleate 2mg/tab, 1 tab; n=10)
  • Active Comparator: EA+antihistamine(high dose) group
    • EA at ST36 and GB34 plus high-dose chlorpheniramine (Dexchlorpheniramine maleate 2mg/tab, 2 tabs; n=10)

Clinical Trial Outcome Measures

Primary Measures

  • pain threshold in each group:the current intensity of Transcutaneous electrical stimulation (TCES)
    • Time Frame: baseline and 10min after treatment
    • Transcutaneous electrical stimulation (TCES) is used as a method of inducing pain in the study. The procedure is to attach two electrode patches on the inside of the upper arm of the subject and then connect the electric stimulator. The current intensity will gradually increase from 0 mA, and each time increase 0.5amps until the subject feels pain in the visual analogy. Transcutaneous electrical stimulation (TCES) will be stopped at the visual analog scale of 5 (that means the moderate pain). The current intensity will be compared within and between each group.

Participating in This Clinical Trial

Inclusion Criteria

1. . Age: 20 to 30 years of age.

2. . Agrees to undergo a comprehensive medical history and physical examination.

3. . No history of analgesic, sedative, dietary/appetite medication intake for more than 3 weeks prior to enrolment.

Exclusion Criteria

1. . An ongoing medical condition that requires active medical intervention or monitoring to avert serious danger to the participant's health or well-being (e.g., hypertension, diabetes mellitus, or epilepsy).

2. . A compromised skin barrier (e.g., skin disease, allergy) that would interfere with the conduct of the EA procedure and assessments of the study.

3. . An implant such as a pacemaker, defibrillator, or electronic medical equipment.

4. . Pregnancy, or planning for pregnancy.

Gender Eligibility: All

Minimum Age: 20 Years

Maximum Age: 30 Years

Are Healthy Volunteers Accepted: Accepts Healthy Volunteers

Investigator Details

  • Lead Sponsor
    • China Medical University Hospital
  • Provider of Information About this Clinical Study
    • Sponsor
  • Overall Official(s)
    • Yi-Hung Chen, PhD, Study Director, Graduate Institute of Acupuncture Science, China Medical University


Traiffort E, Pollard H, Moreau J, Ruat M, Schwartz JC, Martinez-Mir MI, Palacios JM. Pharmacological characterization and autoradiographic localization of histamine H2 receptors in human brain identified with [125I]iodoaminopotentidine. J Neurochem. 1992 Jul;59(1):290-9.

Zhang WT, Jin Z, Luo F, Zhang L, Zeng YW, Han JS. Evidence from brain imaging with fMRI supporting functional specificity of acupoints in humans. Neurosci Lett. 2004 Jan 2;354(1):50-3.

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