Gua Sha

Rear view shot of the highlighted joints in a runner’s foot

What is Gua Sha?

Gua Sha is a Traditional Chinese Medicine practice that involves the scraping of the skin, historically with a spoon or coin and more recently with specialized tools made of stone or bone.  A massage oil is generously applied to lubricate the area of the body being treated.  Practitioners then use the rounded edge of their Gua Sha tool to scrape the skin most commonly in a down and outward direction.

What are the benefits of Gua Sha?

The benefits of Gua Sha are numerous.  It is theorized that Gua Sha may help break down scar tissue and reduce inflammation thereby improving movement in the joints and relieving pain in musculoskeletal conditions.

In facial acupuncture Gua Sha can increase collagen, inspire rosy cheeks, improve blood circulation and lymphatic drainage.  It has also been known to ease migraine pain and can get rid of puffy eyes and dark circles, while smoothing fine lines and sagging facial muscles.

It is believed that Gua Sha can benefit the immune system and reduce inflammation and therefor can be a beneficial adjunctive therapy to treat the common cold, fevers and lung issues.

Gua Sha is often used with breastfeeding mothers experiencing breast engorgement.  It can relieve painful and swollen breasts making it difficult for babies to latch.

Women experiencing Perimenopausal Syndrome have also found that weekly Gua Sha treatments help to relieve insomnia, irregular periods, anxiety, fatigue and hot flashes.

What are the side effects?

Gua Sha will temporarily affect the appearance of your skin.  Skin may appeared raised and red or pink  after the rubbing/scraping.  Small blood vessels near the surface of your skin may burst causing minor bleeding or bruising.  If bruises do appear, they often resolve within a couple days.

Who are candidates for Gua Sha therapy?

Gua Sha can be an effective alternative therapy for most people, but should not be used with patients on blood thinners or clotting disorders or if the patient has had surgery in the past 6 weeks.  Patients with disorders of the skin and veins should also avoid Gua Sha.


Posted in: Evidence Based Medicine

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