A medical treatment used throughout South East Asia and in Chinese medicine, Gua Sha is a technique that’s called Khoud Lam in Laos, Cao Yio, in Vietnam, and Kerik, in Indonesia.
In English, “Gua” means to rub or scrape, while is “Sha” is a word to describe the raised reddish skin rash that develops from the scraping process. Sha pertains to the stagnant blood in the subcutaneous tissues before and after it is elevated as petechiae (reddish skin rash) or ecchymosis (bruising).
Gua Sha is done by a Chinese medicine practitioner or licensed acupuncturist vancouver bc who first lubricates the skin with body massage oil and then uses a smooth edged instrument to scrape the skin with short or long short strokes causing bruising or redness. The body parts most commonly treated in gua sha therapy are the limbs, buttocks, shoulders, neck, and back, all yang areas of the body. Sometimes, the stomach and chest are treated as well. There are also different forms of facial Gua Sha therapy that can be used alongside cosmetic acupuncture treatments to help increase firmness, elasticity, and circulation of the skin.
However, this therapy can cause temporary bruising (ecchymosis) that slowly disappears within two to four days. According to traditional Chinese medicine theory, the bruising’s severity/intensity is a sign of the degree of the fever, stagnation, or toxicity inside the body.
What Can Gua Sha Therapy Treat?
Gua Sha can be used to prevent or treat acute and chronic pain, asthma, bronchitis, flu, and the common cold. It’s also an ideal way to cure fevers and detoxify the body since the scraping sends the accumulated toxins and excess heat to the skin surface to be released.
You might feel in your muscles a knotted feeling, tenderness, or achiness when you use the treatment for pain. Gua sha is very good at treating flus and colds especially if the person is suffering from a high fever or a certain respiratory problem. Any issues of blood or chi stagnation can be treated successfully with this procedure.
Gua Sha performs extremely well as an adjunct to cupping and acupuncture therapy and has a special ability to alleviate inflammation and fevers affecting the respiratory system.
What Does The Intensity and Color “Sha” Indicate?
The intensity and color of the Sha can both be used for diagnosis and prognosis. Blood deficiency may be determined if the color of the Sha is very light. An intense and fresh red Sha would mean the condition is acute and has not yet deeply penetrated into the body. Long term Blood stagnation may be diagnosed if the Sha is purple or black in color. The body may be suffering from a deficiency or dryness if the Sha produces a brown color. A deep dark red Sha indicates heat. The Sha is also a good indicator of fever release and detoxification.
What Are the Tools Used in Gua Sha?
There are several tools that can be used to perform Gua Sha. Traditionally, a coin, Chinese soup spoon, a piece of jade, or a slice of water buffalo horn is used to scrape the skin. You can practically use any object that has a rounded edge. Today, you can choose from tools of various shapes and sizes to perform the therapy.
The Oriental Healing Art of Gua Sha Therapy
Before you begin treatment, it is important to lubricate the skin first. A variety of massage oils can be utilized. You may also use vicks vaporub, coconut oil, almond oil, or peanut oil to lubricate the skin.
How is Gua Sha Performed?
The region of the body to be treated is first applied with massage oil. Then, the acupuncturist takes the Gua Sha tool to stroke the patient’s skin in a downward motion until the petechiae appear. If a rash does not form, or if there is no sign of fever, stagnation, or blood stasis, the skin will only turn pink or a rash (petechiae) will not form.
Gua Sha alleviates pain, eliminates stagnation, regulates metabolic processes, enhances circulation, detoxifies the body, normalizes organ function, and stimulates the immune system. After a procedure, the patient usually feels a release or a shift especially if there was pain. It often causes sweating which is the body’s way of freeing toxins that have built up inside the body. The therapy reduces severe exhaustion, fatigue, and stress and rejuvenates and revitalizes. It can help clear the senses and mind, relax the body, and help release emotions. Gua Sha may be a simple treatment, but it can be incredibly effective for several ailments, which is the reason the South East Asian peoples and Chinese people have been using it for thousands of years.