Background and aim: We have previously reported that histamine H1 receptor antagonists facilitate electroacupuncture analgesia in experimental animals. In this pilot study, we sought to determine whether the histamine H1 receptor antagonist dexchlorpheniramine (DCPA) facilitates electroacupuncture analgesia in healthy human subjects.
Experimental procedure: Forty healthy subjects aged 20-30 years were randomly allocated to 1 of 4 groups: (1) sham electroacupuncture at acupoints Zusanli (ST36) and Yanglingquan (GB34) (sham electroacupuncture ; n = 10); (2) electroacupuncture at ST36 and GB34 (n = 10); (3) electroacupuncture at ST36 and GB34 plus low-dose DCPA (2 mg, n = 10); (4) electroacupuncture at ST36 and GB34 plus high-dose DCPA (4 mg, n = 10). Before and after acupuncture treatment, pain thresholds were determined by transcutaneous electrical stimuli on the glabrous skin of the left upper arm.
Results: After the acupuncture session, subjects in the electroacupuncture plus high-dose DCPA group had a significantly higher pain threshold elevation compared with the other 3 study groups. The change from baseline in pain threshold in the electroacupuncture plus high-dose DCPA group was significantly greater than the change in pain threshold with electroacupuncture only, indicating that DCPA 4 mg facilitated electroacupuncture analgesia.
Conclusion: The results suggest that combining H1 receptor antagonist treatment with electroacupuncture appears to relieve pain to a greater extent compared with electroacupuncture alone.