Objective: To compare the therapeutic effects of different types of acupuncture therapy on herpes zoster (acute stage).
Methods: A total of 189 cases of acute herpes zoster outpatients and inpatients were recruited in the present multicenters (3 hospitals) randomized controlled clinical trials. They were divided into (computer-aided random allocation): basic acupuncture (n = 36), cotton moxibustion (n = 35), fire needle (n = 43), tapping-cupping (n = 39) and medication (n = 36) groups. Ashi-points (around the locus), Jiaji (EX-B 2), Zhigou (SJ 6) and Houxi (SI 3) were used in this study. For patients of the acupuncture group, the abovementioned acupoints were punctured with filiform needles (encircled needling around the affected loci) and also stimulated with electroacupuncture (EA). For patients of the cotton moxibustion group, thin defated dry cotton pieces put over the Ashi-point were ignited, 3 times altogether, followed by EA and encircled needling stimulation which were the same to those in the basic acupuncture group. Patients of the fire needle group were treated by pricking the herpes (3-5 in number) with a hot-red needle, followed by EA and encircled needling treatment. Patients of the tapping-cupping group were treated by tapping Ashi-points repeatedly with a percussopunctator and cupping over the pricked region, followed by EA and encircled needling treatment. Patients of the medication group were treated by oral administration of Valaciclovir Hydrochlordide (300 mg/time, twice a day) and vitamin B1 (10 mg/time, t. i.d.) for 10 days. The acupuncture-moxibustion treatment was given once daily for 10 days. The time of blister-occurrence cease, scab formation and decrustation was recorded, and pain degree was evaluated using visual analog scale (VAS). The therapeutic effect was assessed according to the related standards.
Results: There were no significant differences among the 5 groups in the time of blister-occurrence cease, scab formation and decrustation, and in the therapeutic effect (P > 0.05). The VAS scores of the 5 groups were decreased gradually and apparently along with the treatment (P < 0.05), suggesting a pain relief after the treatment. In comparison with the medication group, the VAS scores of the basic acupuncture group, cotton moxibustion group, fire needle group and tapping-cupping group were significantly lower from the 7th day on following the treatment (P < 0.05).
Conclusion: Acupuncture plus encircled needling and acupuncture plus encircled needling combined with cotton-moxibustion, or with fire needle stimulation, or with tapping and cupping are effective in the treatment of herpes zoster at the acute stage, being comparable to the medication in the clinical curative effect and improvement of blisters, and better than medication in pain relief.