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Pulling Hair, A Traditional Cure for Headache

A traditional technique used by our grandparents to cure intense headaches when pills and other medicines where not available or ineffective is called chucaque, also spelled chukake.

The grandparents say that the strong ache or pain which is itself called chukake, is calles because we are exposed to the intense sun without any protection. We do not put on any hat or cap to cover our head. When people have this ache you can see that their hair is stuck flat against the head.

The pain is unsupportable. It is so bad that even pills like aspirin or other headache remedies for not work to calm the pain. To carry out the chukake, you must first massage the head of the person to soften and relax the scalp. Then you begin to pull on the hair.

You first begin with the forward part of the head and work backward. You grab a small mechón or bundle of hair with your thumb and forefinger and pull it outward gently until you hear a sound as if you were pulling something apart.

This sound is called conejos, or rabbit, and is the name for the sound when people pup their joints. You continue with this process until you are done. You can also choose particular places to pull according to where the pain is concentrated.

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For us this technique of curing pain cannot fail and is always efficacious. The results are positive and the method cures those unsupportable headaches from which we sometimes suffer.

When I was a child I remember many experiences with chukake. This technique was much practiced in my family. My mother and my aunts were experts in pulling hair. They would pull on each other’s hair when they had headaches.

I remember that people would often come to our house to have their hair pulled. Almost always it seemed they were on the edge of fainting from pain. They would say that they had taken much medicine or pills and that the pain would not go away. Their last options was to come to our house and, as you might expect, they went away very grateful for having their pain alleviated, for being cured of it.

Down to today friends and acquaintances of my mother come looking for her at our house to have her pull their hair. Our traditions say that not just anyone can do it, but only those people who have “buena mano” a good hand. These are those who have the gift to carry out this kind of healing.

Brayan Coraza Morveli

Soy completamente cusqueño. Mi profesión es analista de sistemas. Me encanta escuchar y tocar la música andina tanto como bailar break. Me gusta también compartir mi experiencias como cusqueño con gente de otros lados. Una de mis metas es llegar a conocer mi cultura más profundamente y compartirla ampliamente con gente de otras generaciones tanto como con hermanos y hermanas de otros lados de nuestra planeta.

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  1. Hello Brayan. I’m from Manipur , Northeast India and we also have an old method of pulling the hair exactly the way you described it. Although I was a bit scared to try it myself , some of my friends could do it and I have seen it for myself.
    Unfortunately , this ancestral remedy is almost forgotten and only the old ageing people know and pass it down to their offsprings. It is a dying tradition.

  2. Happy to have found this article! My race/heritage is Iban on the Borneo island and we also have this “pulling hair” method. If any of us have a headache and seek massage from my dad, he’d use this method and we’d instantly feel better. I thought my dad was such a hero when I first experienced this!

    Anyway, I had a throbbing headache at work today and so searched for this method online to try and do it myself. Not as good as my dad but I did manage to feel a pop!

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