Krun Khyol among Cambodians in Seattle

The article that I read was one about Krun Khyol which translates to wind illness, among Seattle Cambodians. There was a study that took place containing twenty-one women and eight men. The ages ranged from 31 to 71 and were they were identified through the Refugee and Children’s Clinics and Community House Call Visits. The study subjects were asked to describe the wind illness which entailed fever and dizziness, their causes and symptoms, and their worries and fears (Graham and Chitnarong).

Some biological dimensions of the illness is diabetes and hypertension which can be linked between family members through their genetics. The participants defined krun khyol as having those conditions along with many others. Cultural dimensions could be their work patterns such as the poor balance from overwork, lack of food and sleep, and exposure to diverse weather. Since their external environment is the same and they all live in a similar area, they most likely do things the same as each other. Individual dimensions include when the four basic human elements (wind, water, earth, fire) are unbalanced. Each of those could affect someone differently (Graham and Chitnarong).

Depending on the severity of their wind illness, the Cambodians would treat their illness accordingly: For wind illness they used a technique called coining (rubbing a coin on the back and other skin surfaces to leave lesions – determines severity) that improved blood circulation, drinking warm fluids, eating warm rice soup, avoided bathing, and use of western medicines (Tylenol or Advil). For a fever they washed or cooled their forehead or went to a western doctor for diagnosis. For dizziness as a symptom, they sometimes used western medicine or used the same techniques as for wind illness. Many individuals put traditional and medical treatments together. This was called a dual treatment. They didn’t believe American ways worked fully to heal their illness (Graham and Chitnarong).


E. A. Graham, MD, MPH and Jip Chitnarong, “Ethnographic Study among Seattle Cambodians: WindIllness,” EthnoMED, (1997): accessed July 17, 2014,

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