New research published in the Journal of Traditional Chinese Medicine finds acupuncture as effective as pharmacological drugs for the treatment of herpes zoster. The study also notes that acupuncture is more cost-effective as a treatment modality for this ailment. Herpes zoster, also known as shingles, is a viral infection that causes painful skin rashes with blisters. This is the same virus that causes chickenpox. Adults who have had chickenpox earlier in life have a 50 percent chance of contracting a herpes zoster outbreak later in life, however, herpes zoster can attack at any age.
A total of 500 patients with herpes zoster were part of this randomized clinical trial. They were divided into 5 treatment groups to compare Chinese medicine with anti-viral drug therapy. Group 1 received acupuncture and electroacupuncture. Group 2 received moxibustion. Group 3 received red-hot needle treatment. Group 4 received tapping needle technique plus cupping and group 5 received drug therapy. The researchers found no statistical difference between the treatment groups for the “curative effect.” Given the same clinical effects between the treatment groups, the researchers then compared the cost of care and concluded that acupuncture is a more cost-effective modality for the treatment of herpes zoster.
Journal of Chinese Medicine. 1-2012. Economic Evaluation of Treating Herpes Zoster with Various Methods of Acupuncture and Moxibustion.