Gua Sha (‘Gua’ meaning to scrape, and ‘Sha’ meaning blood stasis) is an ancient Chinese technique where a rounded-edged tool made from stone such as jade, or sometimes just a simple bottle cap or ceramic spoon, are used to scrape the surface of the skin. After a massage oil has been applied scraping is administered until red dots (petechia) emerge and the area becomes red signifying that areas of stagnation are in the process of being broken up. In chinese medicine this stagnation is the cause of pain, and disease in the body as it obstructs the free flow of qi and nutrients to muscles and organs.
Like many natural therapies, Gua Sha has undergone extensive research to determine its specific health benefits. In the scientific community, it has emerged as a winner as its effects are observable and powerful.
Research suggests that this ancient method works because it not only increases the blood flow in the tissues, but it also helps to stimulate the body’s nerve pathways, anti-inflammatory, as well as anti-oxidative responses so that there is relief from aches and pains as well as possible relief from symptoms related to inflammatory diseases. Gua Sha has also been shown to boost the immune system- which is why, in addition to being used for pain, it such a great tool during cold and flu season!
At Eight Branches Academy of Eastern Medicine Gua Sha is an integral part of the training we offer in our Acupuncture and TCM Programs and it is one of the modalities that our student practitioners practice in our teaching clinics. Come try it out!
For a more in depth look at how Gua Sha works have a look at “The Science of Gua Sha” by leading Gua Sha expert, Arya Nielson PhD, by followignt the link below.