What is GuaSha Therapy?

GuaSha is an ancient healing technique that began in China centuries ago. It is used in Asia by practitioners of Traditional Medicine, in both the clinical setting and in homes, but little known in the West. "Gua" means to scrape or rub. "Sha" is a reddish, elevated patch of skin. It involves palpation and cutaneous stimulation where the skin is pressured, in strokes, by a round-edged instrument, such as a ceramic Chinese soup spoon, a well worn coin or, even honed animal bones, water buffalo horn, or jade. It results in the appearance of small red patches (“Sha'”), which is believed to remove blood stagnation, promoting normal circulation and metabolic processes. GuaSha is valuable in the prevention and treatment of acute infectious illness, upper respiratory and digestive problems, and many other acute or chronic disorders.

How does GuaSha Therapy work?

To apply GuaSha, the practitioner first lubricates the skin area with oil and then places the GuaSha instrument against the pre-oiled skin surface, presses down firmly, and then rubs the skin in downward strokes using moderate pressure or along the pathway of the acupuncture meridians, with each stroke about 4-6 inches long. There’re two kinds of GuaSha therapy. One is meridian scraping therapy which combines acupressure with cutaneous scraping. Another one is holographic scraping therapy which involves scraping points on the body corresponding to organs in the body. This therapy has the special feature of scraping only a small area and taking a short time.

When fixed position cupping is used, a certain amount of bruising is expected at the cupping site. In traditional cupping, heated cups are used and the hot cups can also generate a similar stimulating effect like that of burning moxa wool in Moxibustion Therapy. However, with movement of the cups along the surface of the skin, it’s somewhat like a gentler Guasha Therapy and some bruising is also expected. These bruises are usually painless, however, and disappear within a few days of treatment.

GuaSha is applied primarily on the back, neck, shoulders, buttock and limbs of the body. Advanced practitioners may also raise “Sha” on the chest and abdomen. The color of “Sha” varies according to the severity of the patient's blood stasis—which may correlate with the nature, severity and type of their disorder—appearing from a dark blue-black to a light pink, but is most often a shade of red. Because the scraping is on the oily skin, the patient will hardly feel pain - neither during nor after the treatment and the skin will not be damaged. Since GuaSha moves stuck Qi and blood, the patient typically experiences immediate relief from pain, stiffness, fever, chill, cough, nausea, and so on. The “Sha” bump should fade in 2-4 days. If it is very slow to fade, it indicates poor blood circulation and there may be more serious deficiency that will require additional treatments with combination of acupuncture or acupressure in specific areas.

GuaSha can be used up to three times weekly, and is most effective when used as a weekly treatment on chronic conditions.

There is an allied technique, BaSha. “Ba” means pull out. It has a similar application to Guasha. Instead of scraping the skin with instruments, it is performed by gripping the skin, lifting and then flicking between the fingers until “Sha” appear. It is used more often on the tendons, at the center of the brow, or than over specific acupuncture points.

What can be treated by GuaSha Therapy?

GuaSha is a simple while valuable method in the prevention and treatment of various disorders. It can stimulate the immune system, detoxify and de-acidify the body, promote the blood circulation, regulate functions of organs, and remove blockades and pain.

In classical Chinese practice, GuaSha is commonly used to treat and prevent acute conditions such as common cold or flu, asthma, bronchitis as well as chronic problems involving pain and congestion of the Qi and blood. It has a very quick effect on pain from head, neck, shoulder, joint and back pain, fibromyalgy, sciatica and other nerve pain, migraine, PMS, osteoporosis, rheumatism. It also has obvious effects on various diseases caused by functional disharmony of the internal organs, such as digestive disorders, urinary and gynecological disorders.

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