Medicine: Folk Remedy

Coin rubbing puzzles M.D.s

It looked like a clear case of child abuse. The youngster had bruises on back and chest, apparently the result of a severe beating. Horrified observers reported the case to authorities, who prosecuted the bewildered Vietnamese refugee parents. But the trial ended soon enough when a physician testified that the child was only the "victim" of an old folk remedy: coin rubbing.

The widespread custom, called cqo gio (Vietnamese for "scratch the wind"), is used for everything from colds to convulsions. A medicated oil or ointment is rubbed into the...

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