Mexican Folk Remedy- Pulling Back Skin

The informant is a 47-year old accountant working in California, originally from Michoacán, Mexico. She lived a modest life as a young adult, having to take care of her family at a very young age while still finding success in management. She then moved to the United States with her husband to raise their family and now works in accounting. She primarily speaks Spanish with English as a second language.  He shall be referred to as MB.

“Jalar el cuero,” “jalar el piel”- The informant, MB, explained that this is often a “tough love” approach to curing a stomach ache. The child lies on his or her stomach and the parent begins pinching and pulling at the skin on their back repeatedly (but never to a point beyond moderate discomfort). The informal way of referring to this is to “Jalar el cuero” (“Pull the skin,” “pulling the animal back skin”), as “cuero” refers to the meat taken off an animal’s back.

This animal reference (“el cuero”) to the child’s back is largely reflective of MB’s origin living on a ranch in her childhood. Being very practical people, they turned to any basic solutions to medical problems before consulting a doctor. I believe it is a term of endearment, as MB is also aware of other ranch-related nicknames for children. Attributing an animal status to a child can be good-naturedly mocking, but as with animals, they are the objects of close care and nurturing.  The parent thus uses that term to express their compassion for the child in a humorous, not overly sentimental manner.

I believe that the seemingly non-medicinal nature of these remedies is reflective of MB’s Catholic origin. As the town was made up largely of the devoutly religious, they were unlikely to question that which made no scientific sense and instead function more on faith. After all, there doesn’t seem to be any scientific reasoning for this remedy, but MB insists that it worked.