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Cao Gio: Does skin coining work?

Cao Gio is one such East Asian therapy that can cure several minor ailments and discomforts straightforwardly and effectively. The best part of the treatment is its simplicity, wherein anyone within a matter of a few minutes can learn and execute the therapy.

Can you believe that backache can be cured by just using a coin? A coin can relieve chronic shoulder pain. It is not magic, but the wisdom of old human civilizations to cure aches and day to day ailments without much fuss.

Unlike the medicines, the Cao Gio comes with no long-term reactions or side effects. Learn everything about this safe and effective therapy now and lead a pain-free life.

What is Cao Gio?

Cao Gio is very popular Vietnamese, ethnomedicine, practiced for thousands of years now. As the Vietnamese belief goes, the ‘wind’ in the blood is responsible for all pains and ailments of the body.

Cao Gio in Vietnamese means ‘Catch the wind.’ The wind here represents the ‘bad wind’ that has gone into the blood, and the Cao Gio therapy catches that wind from the blood and throws it out of the body. That is the therapeutic secret of Cao Gio.

Despite the substantial similarity with Chinese Gua Sha, it has its peculiarities and identity. Many consider Gua Sha and Cao Gio to be the same. They belong to the joint stable of ancient Southeastern traditional and ethnic medicines but retain the regional or localized subtleties.

How does Cao Gio work?

In this therapy, the skin gets scraped in a particular way. The scraping brings the bad wind of the blood just under the surface of the skin. From there, it escapes through the pathways (abrasive bruises) created by scraping the skin.

In Cao Gio, the only tool used for dermabrasion (scraping of skin) is a coin, and hence it is also colloquially known as ‘coining.’ Any handy currency coin used. The only requirement is that the edges should be smooth to prevent cuts on the skins. However, in Gua Sha, many tools are used depending on which body part needs treatment.

Many consider a ‘silver coin’ to be more effective, but any coin will do till the time it does not cut the skin.

Some warm oil also applied to the affected area.  Further, with the help of the coin, the skin is scraped in long strokes. The strokes are made parallel to one another. It should be unidirectional, going outward.

Unidirectional here means the scraping motion should be only in one direction, and that is, inwards to outwards. The oil serves as a lubricant for one, and the other benefit is these oils also have medicinal properties, which aids the therapy.

The most popular oil used are peppermint oil, wintergreen oil, eucalyptus oil, and camphor-based oil. Tiger balm is also very popular because of its pain-relieving properties.

These coin scrapings result in ecchymosis (linear discoloration of skin because of bleeding underneath.) The blood from the squashed capillaries leak out and spread just beneath the skin surface. It is here that the bad wind from the flowing blood escapes out from the skin along the length of a bruise. That is the therapeutic action according to ancient medical science. Post Cao Gio treatment, the patient carries these linear bruises for a couple of days, and then it goes off on its own.

Modern science may not believe in such an explanation, without proper evidence. Still, the Vietnamese have been using Cao Gio for ages to relieve body and muscular pains, joint pains, and general lethargy. They vouch it is equally effective in treating cold, fever, liver, kidney, and such other ailments.

Advantages of Cao Gio therapy

Cao Gio is a part of Vietnamese tradition and culture, and people with these red/ purple bruises share some strange kind of fraternity bonds.

This therapy is very popular in treating the back, chest, shoulder, arms, and legs. Cao Gio sets the negative energy free from the body. Bereft of the negative energy, the body gradually heals itself in a couple of days, and the disease or the pain disappears, without any medications or complicated medical treatments.

Its simplicity and low cost (almost zero cost), has made it hugely popular among the Vietnamese. Also, the Vietnamese had carried this therapy and tradition with them when they traveled to other parts of the world. That is how Cao Gio gained interest and popularity in the USA and Europe.

Essentially Cao Gio is therapy under the TVM (Traditional Vietnamese Medicine). Like Traditional Chinese medicine, Traditional Vietnamese Medicine also has ancient ethnic medical practices and procedures as a part of it. Many believe that TVM evolved out of TCM. That may be right, considering that the Chinese civilization is much older than most of the cultures of the world.

Cao Gio massage with a spoon

Some practitioners of Cao Gio use inverted soup spoons instead of coins as the scraping tool. The soup spoon has a better hold and grip and is easy to move relative to the currency coin.

For areas like shoulder and neck where precise movement control is necessary to make the right stroke, the spoon is a better tool. Holding the coin pinched between the fingers for too long may be painful and inconvenient, and the alternative is a spoon. Since it is metallic, there is always a fear that the coin may cut the skin. However, with the spoon, this will not happen.

Though the tool changes from coin to a spoon but the therapeutic process remains absolutely the same. The therapy, as well as its benefits, stay the same.

The idea behind using day to day, easy to find objects as tools of massage is to ensure unhindered administration of therapy and not to depend on any specialized tools.

In conclusion

As often said that the Human body design is such to take care of itself. All that is needed to keep it fit and efficient is already there in the body. The ancient therapies have based on the simple fact that we just need to initiate or trigger those curative properties of the body. And most of the disorder can be cured. Cao Gio is one of the ways to trigger the self-curative feature of the body.