What's it like being treated by a chopchu? JAMnews explains" />

VIDEO: Azerbaijani folk healers remove disease by blowing into children’s nostrils

What's it like being treated by a chopchu? JAMnews explains

When a child exhibited symptoms similar to fever and vomiting, coughing and were scratching their noses, it was regarded in olden times in Azerbaijan as a sign that he or she needed to a see a ‘chopchu’. These folk healers are still practicing. A chopchu would blow strongly into a child’s nose so as to remove a ‘chop’ – remains of food (or some other ‘things’ that a kid had accidentally swallowed) stuck behind his/her tonsils.

There are two opinions about the ‘effectiveness’ of Chopchus, and none of them have been fully confirmed. Some people regard it as an unexplored phenomenon of traditional medicine, which works much better than the conventional one. Others think that it’s a complete and utter deception.

As far as the legislation is concerned, Chopchu isn’t banned by law; there is no punishment, unlike, for example, the practice of fortune-telling which has been officially recognized as fraud.

Chopchus are more popular in regional areas than in urban areas. Plenty of them can be found in the villages around Baku, and their services are in high demand. It’s not hard to find a Chopchu here. There is always a shop assistant or a taxi driver to show you the way.

One such healer lives in Suvelan village. Leyla Ibadova, 51, has been performing ‘chops’ for over 30 years. It’s a family trade that has been passed down for five generations, beginning from her great-grandmother (who was of Iranian origin). Leyla Ibadova’s son is also a Copchu and she expects her grandchildren to continue the trade as well.

Leyla Ibadova believes that being a Chopchu is a ‘gift’ that can’t be acquired through learning. Although she offers help mostly to children, she says the number of adult patients has considerably increased over the past 2-3 years. In her words, she can even heal patients who have to undergo surgical procedures. There are Russian and Turkish nationals among her patients too.

Leyla Ibadova is proud of her entrepreneur’s certificate as well as of the fact that she’s a tax payer. What also makes her feel proud is a diploma from a local media organization, which, as Leyla put it, inspected her work with a doctors’ assistance.

According to Gaib Aliyev, a physician, it’s quite possible from a medical point of view that a foreign body coud get stuck in the piriform fossa of a child’s throat. However, statistically this probability is incomparable with the number of those queued up in front of Chopchus’ doors. “Furthermore, as a child grows up, the piriform fossa aligns, thus diminishing this probability. I can’t tell for sure what happens when you visit a Chopchu. It’s unclear whether they actually remove something from there, or it’s just a trick. This theme could be a subject matter of a full-length science documentary for Discovery Science TV channel.

“I watched some short videos featuring this process on social media, and most of them have left quite a negative impression on me. However, instead of rudely denying this phenomenon which stretched throughout the centuries, we’d better study it more profoundly.

“As for me, I would have never taken my child to a Chopchu.”

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