Coining, or cao gio in Vietnamese, is a type of alternative medicine practiced by many Southeast Asians. Vietnam, Thailand, Laos and Indonesia are some of the countries that practice coining most commonly. Used to treat various ailments, coining essentially uses dermabrasion in an attempt to return balance to the body. Fever is often considered to be a symptom of an imbalance caused by too much “wind” in the body. Southeast Asians often use coining to treat a fever by “catching the wind” and expelling it from the body.

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Begin with a massage of the back, neck and shoulders. Use a product like Tiger Balm or essential oils like peppermint, wintergreen, eucalyptus or menthol oil for lubrication. These oils serve to stimulate and warm the skin while relaxing the patient.

Use a smooth coin to make repeated long sweeping motions in one direction away from the heart. Typically, the coin is scraped vigorously across the skin, following the ridges of the ribs.

Repeat the coin scraping in a symmetrical location on the back. During a coining session, multiple locations are usually scraped. The pattern of the scrapping locations varies and is usually dictated by the experience of the practitioner.

Expect to see red marks that resemble bruises in the areas that have been scraped. The friction on the skin where the coin rubs causes blood to flow to the surface and create these marks. They usually go away within a few days after the procedure.

Examine the color of the marks to determine the severity of the illness. According to coining philosophy, the darker the marks are in color, the more severe the illness.

Tips

  • Find a coining practitioner by visiting a Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM) specialist. Coining practitioners don’t usually advertise, as this is really a folk medicine. Find a practitioner using the TCM Directory (see Resources below).

  • It’s okay to take acetaminophen or aspirin in conjunction with coining to treat a fever. Many modern TCM practitioners combine Eastern treatments with Western treatments for best results.