Gua Sha

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What is Gua Sha?

Gua sha is a traditional Eastern healing technique also known as scraping or coining. It consists of one directional stroking of an area with a gua sha tool to create a temporary reddening of the skin. Gua means to scrape, and sha is referring to the redness of the skin resulted from the scraping. The most common areas for treatment are the back, neck shoulders and the limbs. It causes temporary bruising which fades in 2-4 days. In Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM) theory the severity of the bruise is an indication of the severity of the pathogenic factor such as heat, dampness or stagnation. It can be used to stimulate the immune system, to increase circulation, to regulate organ function and to remove general aches and pains.

What does Gua Sha treat?

Gua sha is excellent to treat and even prevent the common cold and flu symptoms, bronchitis, asthma or any respiratory illness. Very effective for alleviation of muscle aches and pains due to overuse or soreness accumulated over time due to stress or muscle tension. Gua sha revitalizes not only the skin but the entire system. It relieves stress and chronic fatigue or helps recover from severe exhaustion. It also releases emotions and relaxes the body to allow clarity of the mind and promotes rejuvenation of the senses.

How do I prepare for a Gua Sha treatment?

There’s no special preparations necessary, however it is important that you bring a scarf or a shawl with you even in the summer time. It is of most importance to cover the area immediately after each treatment. The pores of the skin on the area scraped have been opened. Wind or cold can easily get under the skin causing the original condition to become worse. Also plan your day to rest and relax after the treatment for allowing the body to regenerate which will aid the healing.  Please scroll down and see the cautions section.

What are some examples of Gua Sha tools?

Gua sha tools traditionaly were made of water buffalo horn or jade. Sometimes they used large coins, but now we can use anything that has a rounded edge, such as Chinese soup spoons, icecream scoops or a smooth edge of a comb.

How is Gua Sha applied?

Gua Sha is applied directly to the lubricated skin using a downward motion until redness occurs. Bony areas are to be avoided due to the discomfort caused by the tool. The area is chosen depending on your signs and symptoms. For cold and flu it is applied to the upper back, neck and nape area as well as on top of the shoulders. For poor digestion the middle of the back is scraped. The low back is scraped in case there are aches and pain in the area. Other areas will be chosen according the acupuncturists TCM diagnosis and treatment plan.

What are the oils used for lubrication?

Any organic natural base oil can be used. For example coconut oil, almond oil, jojoba oil, or any other  unscented massage oil is suitable for this technique. Selection of the lubricant depends on the agreement between the patient and practitioner based on preference or need.

Is Gua Sha safe?

Gua sha is safe as long as it’s done by a practitioner who was properly trained and knows what they are doing. It is important to have good technique and know when and where to do Gua Sha. The tool used needs to be clean and properly disinfected between each patient.

What are the cautions and contraindications after treatment?

Very important to take these precautions after each treatment:

  • Keep the area gently covered
  • Avoid getting the area wet
  • Do not expose it to any wind
  • Refrain from alcohol or fasting
  • Avoid hard labor or working out
  • Stay away from stressful situations
  • Plan to relax and recuperate
  • Let the treatment work.

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