Many local Internet users were overwhelmed with a sense of fright after watching a recent Facebook video showing a putative beauty salon setting a covered person alight as a disease remedy and beauty enhancement method.
The video, over six minutes long, was shared over 7,000 times and got more than 7,500 likes and reactions along with a similar number of comments.
In the footage, supposedly shot by a beauty salon attendant, an immobile person was lying with a piece of cloth shrouding the head and half of the body while fire was spreading across the material.
A little while later, a woman who appears to be a technician at the facility overlaid the cloth with another piece in order to quench the flames before setting it on fire again.
When the fire had been smothered, a man with his hands in a plastic bag began rubbing the recumbent person.
The woman then made small flames there several more times.
“This way of curing diseases is of course hotter than normal methods,” she said when a person in the video mentioned possible problems with her practice.
The video is just one of many posted on social media by those who called themselves certified physicians in so-called ‘fire therapy,’ which they believed was a panacea.
It usually costs around VND200,000-250,000 ($9-11) for each session with the service.
This way of playing with fire as a supposed remedy was transplanted from China into many Vietnamese beauty parlors a year or so ago.
Beauty shops with the therapy have since mushroomed, all unlicensed by health authorities so far.
Truong Thi Ngoc Lan, deputy head of the Ho Chi Minh City Traditional Medicine Institute, said fire therapy can prevent and cure nervous-system problems such as headache, insomnia, backache, pain in the neck and shoulder regions, and sciatica; and digestive illnesses including gastritis, colitis and dyspepsia.
The treatment is done on the skin in the expectation that thermal effects can permeate through the skin into other organs and strengthen immunity, Lan added.
In Vietnam only the Hanoi-based National Hospital of Acupuncture is allowed to use fire therapy but it is still in the throes of trialing the treatment, whose effectiveness has not been scientifically proven worldwide.
Vietnamese specialists warn of risks that may occur if fire therapy is improperly administered at private beauty care shops.
They advise not using it for pregnant women, people with medical-grade silicones or metal implanted in the body, and those who have cardiovascular conditions and diabetes or are feeling too scared, angry, hungry or fatigued at the time of the care.