What is Gua sha?
Gua sha is an ancient healing technique used frequently in Chinese medicine as treatment for pain, inflammation and immune support. When translated “Gua” means ‘to rub’ or ‘press stroke’ and “Sha” is used to describe the blood congestion in surface tissue where the patient may experience stiffness and pain. “Sha” is also the term for the little red dots that are raised from applying Gua sha (Nielsen 2012).
Benefits of Gua sha include, but aren’t limited to, the following list:
- Resolves spasms and pain
- Promotes normal circulation to the muscles, tissues and organs
- Increases the microcirculation of surface tissue up to four times
- Reduces inflammation
- Stimulates the immune system
Gua sha can be used on the surface of the body to affect deeper changes in organ function by up regulating anti-inflammatory components to blood chemistry. This means gua sha can also be used to treat and to reduce internal organ inflammation such as respiratory conditions and liver disease.
What is involved in a session of Gua sha?
In this procedure, an oil-like medium is applied to the skin of the area to be treated. The practitioner then applies repeated even strokes on the skin with a smooth-edged instrument, typically in the area of pain. This stroking motion — gua — creates raised redness (petechiae) or bruising (ecchymosis) — sha — and the pain immediately shifts. In minutes the small red dots fade into blended reddishness. The sha disappears totally in two to three days after treatment. The color of sha and rate of fading can indicate important information about a patient’s condition. Pain relief lasts even after the sha is completely gone.
The patient experiences immediate changes in stiffness and pain during a Gua shasession. Because Gua sha opens the surface and can in some case promote sweating, it can help to resolve fever. Gua sha cools the patient who feels too warm or warms the patient who feels too cold, while relaxing tension and reducing anxiety.
When does a practitioner use Gua sha to treat a condition?
Acupuncturists and practitioners of traditional East Asian medicine consider Gua sha for any illness or condition where there is pain or discomfort, for upper respiratory and digestive problems, and any condition where palpation indicates there is sha. Gua sha is often done in combination with acupuncture for problems that acupuncture alone cannot address.
www.WildRootsClinic.ca © Wild Roots Chinese Medicine & Acupuncture Clinic
250-682-7289 | Dr. Andrea Hansen & Shawna Wafler