Acupuncture reduces fevers for patients with the common cold. Tianjin University of Traditional Chinese Medicine researchers conducted a controlled clinical trial and determined that acupuncture reduces fevers and initiates a process wherein the normal body temperature is restored. The results were specific to a singular acupuncture point that was tested for efficacy.
The research quantified the antipyretic actions of acupoint Dazhui (GV14). The onset of initial effective action and full relief to normal body temperature times were measured. The results were compared with a control group receiving a medication with antipyretic actions.
Dazhui (GV14) outperformed the antipyretic drug for relieving fevers in patients with the common cold. The drug control group received Antondine. The treatment group received electroacupuncture at Dazhui (GV14). The researchers note, “One electrode was attached to the needle handle, and the other was hand-held by patients as a reference electrode.”
The researchers (Xiao et al.) note that the acupuncture treatment group outperformed the drug control group. Acupuncture was more successful in fever reduction. The researchers conclude that “acupuncture at Dazhui has a definite therapeutic effect on high fever due to the common cold.” 
The researchers tested the efficacy of Dazhui on Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM) differential diagnostic subgroups. To that end, they determined that “needling Dazhui shows a better therapeutic effect in patients with the wind-heat type common cold compared with patients who had the wind-cold type common cold.” The acupuncture treatment group had 52 wind-cold type patients and 81 wind-heat type patients. The control group had 52 wind-cold type patients and 76 wind-heat type patients.
The research team provided a basic description of each diagnostic pattern in the subgroups. The wind-cold group had a severe aversion to cold with mild fever, absence of sweating, headaches, aching pain in the joints, nasal congestion with a heavy voice, clear phlegm, and a floating or tight pulse. Secondary symptoms for the wind-cold type included an itchy pharynx, coughing, thin and white sputum, no thirst or thirst with a liking for hot drinks, and a thin, white, moist tongue coating.
Dazhui performed well for the wind-cold subgroup; however, even greater results were achieved in the wind-heat subgroup. The primary symptoms for the wind-heat type subgroup include a dmild aversion to cold with a high fever, sweating, dry pharynx, sore and red throat, nasal congestion, yellow and turbid phlegm, and a floating and rapid pulse. The secondary symptoms included headaches, coughing, sticky and yellow sputum, thirst with desire to drink, and a tongue with a thin, slightly yellow coating with redness at the tip and margins of the tongue body.
Patients in the drug control group received a 2 ml Antondine injection. Patients in the acupuncture treatment group received a 20 minute session of electroacupuncture. Dazhui (GV14) was applied using a hand-held probe as the ground for electroacupuncture. A 0.30 mm × 40 mm disposable acupuncture needle was inserted into the acupoint to a standard depth. After the arrival of deqi, the acupuncture needle was retained for twenty minutes per acupuncture session. During needle retention, electroacupuncture stimulation was added to the acupoint using a dense-disperse wave (2/100 Hz). Intensity was within a range of 8–20 mA and was set to patient tolerance levels or until muscle contractions were observable.
Subjective and objective instruments quantified patient outcomes. First, the body temperature was recorded at several data points: prior to electroacupuncture and 0.5, 1, 1.5, 2, 4, 4, 6, 8, 12, 16, and 24 hours after completion of the acupuncture treatment. The researchers note, “After treatment, the body temperature at all observation time points in the [acupuncture] treatment group were lower than those in the [drug] control group.”
The onset of action time refers to the duration of time it takes for a drug or acupuncture to decrease the body temperature by 0.5 degrees Celsius from the start of treatment. Acupuncture demonstrated significant results. The onset of action time averaged 1.42 hours in the acupuncture treatment group and 3.44 hours in the drug control group.
Acupuncture significantly reduced fevers and restored the body to a normal temperature (37 degrees Celsius) in 75.9% of cases, which was significantly more effective than the drug used for the control group. Notably, the wind-heat group had slightly better results with acupuncture than the wind-cold group. This is consistent with traditional functions of the acupoint utilized in the investigation.
Researchers used the following study design. A total of 261 patients were randomly divided into an acupuncture treatment group and a drug control group. For the control group patients, intramuscular injection of Antondine was administered. The treatment group received acupuncture with electrical stimulation to the acupoint. Inclusion criteria were established and included the following:
- Meets biomedical medicine diagnostic criteria for the common cold
- Meets TCM diagnostic criteria for the common cold
- Axillary temperature ≥ 39.0 degrees Celsius
- Age between 15–65 years
- Signed informed consent forms
Patients who had the following conditions were excluded:
- Receiving treatment affecting the study’s measurement indicators
- Mental disorders
- Pregnant or lactating
- Atypical pneumonia and other infectious diseases
The results indicate that the electroacupuncture application of Dazhui (GV14) is safe and effective for the alleviation of high fevers. The researchers note that this “method of acupuncture at Dazhui (GV14) has a define therapeutic effect on high fever of common cold, and [especially] for wind-heat type common cold.” To learn more, consult with a licensed acupuncturist.
1. Xiao L, Jiang GL, Zhao JG, Wang LX, Xing J, Li JJ, Yang ZX. Clinical observation on effects of acupuncture at Dazhui (GV 14) for abating fever of common cold [J]. Chinese acupuncture & moxibustion, 2007; 27: 169-72.