Gua Sha is an East Asian healing technique.
Gua means to scrape or rub. Sha is a 'reddish, elevated, millet-like
skin rash' (aka petechiae). It was used in China as an adjunct to Chinese
Medicine although it is practiced widely in many countries, particularly
amongst family members for treating common aliments. Initially it was
used to treat the excessive effects of exposure to heat and cold and
rheumatic pain of the elderly. In the latter half of last century, it
was further refined and Jing Luo (meridian) Gua Sha was developed. This
was used more by practitioners of Chinese Medicine as a way of diagnosis
and treatment of painful blocked meridians. In the 1990's a further
refinement was made and Holographic Gua Sha was developed. This idea
was that you could diagnose and treat any aspect of the body from the
finger, scalp, ear or any major bone. This is similar to the idea of
Reflexology where a particular zone of the foot or hand is connected
to the function and health of a region of the body.
does Gua Sha Do?
sha releases the exterior of the body by moving body fluids and blood,
stimulating blood flow and helping to discharge trapped external pathogenic
factors through the skin. The skin will feel warm and red marks are
often seen after a Gua sha treatment. This redness or purplish hue to
the skin is trapped or congealed blood that is not circulating properly
in the body. In classical Chinese medicine, Gua Sha is commonly used
in the home to treat a wide range of basic health problems:
stiffness, immobility and rheumatic pain
Treat muscle and tendon injuries.
Treat fatigue caused by exposure to heat or cold.
Bronchitis, asthma, emphysema and common cold
Treat digestive disorders
Treat urinary, gynecological disorders
To assist with reactions to food poisoning.
is used whenever a patient has pain whether associated with an acute
or chronic disorder. There may be aching, tenderness and/or a knotty
feeling in the muscles. Palpation reveals Sha when normal finger pressure
on a patient's skin causes blanching that is slow to fade. In addition
to resolving muscular skeletal pain, Gua Sha is used to treat as well
as prevent , as well as any chronic disorder involving pain, congestion
of Qi and Blood. The colour of the Sha is also diagnostic of the underlying
Sha - indicate Deficiency of Blood.
Red Sha - recent invasion of a pathogenic factor
Dark red Sha - can indicate heat
Purple or dark Sha - Long standing blood stasis
Brown Sha - dry blood
Sha, or petechiae, should fade in 2-4 days. If it is slower to fade,
it indicates poor Blood circulation, the cause of which may need to
be looked into more deeply.
do i do it?
area to be treated is lubricated with oil. The skin is then rubbed with
a round-edged instrument in short downward strokes from the top of the
body to the bottom or strokes away from the midline of the body.
There are specific oils (Red Flower
Oil & Woodlock Oil) that
a practitioner will apply for treating specific conditions, however
you can use a neutral base oil you like such as almond oil or olive
To perform Gua Sha you can use anything with a rounded edge that is
blunt and smooth enough not to cause a feeling of scratching. In China
they use specific instruments of buffalo horn, jade and even old rounded
metal coins. Sometimes improvised instruments such as ceramic soup spoons
and metal lids with a rounded lip are used.
Angle the Gua Sha instrument at about 45 degrees towards the direction
you want to scrape and then use short repeated strokes over the area.
Work that area until a Sha or petechiae is completely raised, then move
onto another area. If there is no Blood stasis the petechiae will not
form and the skin will only turn pink.
spine and other bone areas can have Gua Sha applied, however less pressure
should be used, as they can be more uncomfortable.
Gua Sha is applied primarily at the Yang surface of the body: the back,
neck, shoulders, buttocks, and limbs. On occasion, Gua Sha is applied
at the chest and abdomen. For more information on Gua Sha; A
Traditional Technique for Modern Practice was written for any caregiver
interested in learning Gua Sha.
I NOT have Gua Sha?
You should not perform Gua Sha over broken
skin, moles, cuts and brushes or other blemishes in the skin. You need
to wait till the Sha has completely faded before performing Gua Sha
over the same area (usually 2-4 days).
does it feel like?
Although the after effects of a good Gua Sha
session looks alarming, its actually painless and extremely effective
in soothing aches, pains and stiffness. Whilst receiving Gua Sha, it
might feel a little scrapie, if it is too uncomfortable, the practitioner
can easily adjust their technique, or if you are performing Gua Sha
on yourself, you can adjust the pressure accordingly.
Some people have conditions where long term tension, pain or stress
have an emotional cause (Internal Pathology). Using a strong releasing
technique such as Gua Sha can be unsettling or even shocking and so
it is important to rest after a treatment if you are feeling particularly
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information is not meant to be a substitute for the advice provided
by your own physician or other medical professional. You should not
use this information for diagnosing a health problem or disease but
should always consult your own physician.