“Koah Kshal,” pain-relieving traditional Khmer method​

Do you have flu symptoms like headache, body ache, fatigue, or fever? But do still want to continue your work? All of those symptoms can be treated using a curing traditional Khmer method, called “Koah Kshal.”

This method evolves putting balm or balm oil on a patient's skin (usually the back, but sometimes also the abdomen, chest, and arm) and then rub aggressively with a coin or the balm lid until the skin turns red and “hickey-like”. Those marks are called red petechiae or brushes. But how effective is this method? Is it worth the pain and getting red-skinned all over the body?

“Koah Kshal, ” which is translated into “scape away the wind” has been known and practiced all over Indochina to get rid of the fever and other flu symptoms. “Koah Kshal” has popularly used by Cambodians so far although they have flu medicines.

“Koah Kshal” is believed to be originated from “Gua Sha”, a pain-relieving method used in China and other East Asian countries. “Gua Sha” is similar to “Koah Kshal” due to its similar process and the end result is making a reddish, “hickey-like” skin which supposed to relieve pain.

By applying force on the coin or balm lid onto the balm-oiled skin, the tiny blood vessels near the surface of the skin burst. Therefore, scaping the skin produces a reddish or purple bruise. Normally, scaping anything with your skin will likely create cuts or inflammations, but the oil from the balm reduces the friction between the metal and the skin able to turn skin red with minor cuts and inflammations. It is worth noting that people with a medical condition related to skin, veins or bleed are not advised to use this treatment. Also, using this treatment, patients will feel pain from the scraping or coining; however, if the patient experiences skin irritation or inflammation, the practitioners probably do incorrectly or the patient is not suited to use this treatment.

After treated with this method, some patients say that they feel immediate relief. Some patients can tell if you are very sick or not so sick when using this treatment. Some Koah Kshal practitioners stated that when doing the treatment, the skin turns immediately red or black if the patient is really sick. If the patient is not very sick, it takes a longer time to scrape until the skin turns red.

Although "Koah Kshal" treatment has not been well studied, Gua Sha, which is very similar to Koah Ksal, is well-studied, especially by Chinese medical experts. In one study conducted in the Academic Teaching Hospital of the University Duisburg-Essen of Germany, patients who are treated with Gua Sha for neck pain showed significant improvement compare to the control group after one week. Moreover, many Chinese studies show that Gua Sha is an effective method to treat neck pain, headache, nausea, fever, and muscle tension. However, some patients who used the treatment recalled that the practice was uncomfortable, created red marks, and only provide small relief.

In conclusion, although Koah Kshal is an effective treatment, this treatment is not suitable for everyone. The conclusion from the experiment in Germany is the short-term result of the treatment is effective, but the long-term result is still inconclusive. People who want to use this treatment should know that there are people who find positive results from the treatment, but this treatment has not been well-studied yet. Patients should use the treatment with precaution.

By: You Narun