Why I Love Gua Sha

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Why I Love Gua Sha

3rd February 2017 11:49 AM

Author: Caroline Challender

I was taught how to perform Gua Sha during my training as an acupuncturist. Taken from the extensive toolkit of Traditional Chinese Medicine, it is one of several ancillary techniques that Acupuncturists often use to enhance their treatments, alongside other, perhaps more well-known modalities such as cupping and moxibustion.

So what is Gua Sha?

It is a technique which involves scraping skin with a tool, with the intention of bringing red marks to the surface. My tool of choice is a chinese soup spoon, although a bog-standard jam jar lid will also do the job. Some practitioners prefer more elaborate tools made of jade or buffalo horn. Massage oil is used to lubricate the skin so the tool can glide across it.

Gua - means to scrape

Sha - means sand - referring to sandy, granular spots which appear on the skin.

These red marks are called petechiae and are not bruises, as the blood vessels remain intact. They can initially seem quite alarming, so it is important to warn patients before using the technique and to reassure them that the marks will fade within 2-4days.

So what is the purpose of Gua Sha?

The scraping action allows energy that is stuck in the body to escape and there is a real sense that something is being removed. This promotes the circulation of blood and qu (the energetic phenomena of Chinese Medicine that is thought to flow through the body) to the area, which in turn encourages healing. Gia Sha may initially feel ticklish or even uncomfortable. However, as the tightness releases, any discomfort eases and patients come to enjoy the feeling. Once they've experienced it, they often tend to ask for it everytime.

 Gua Sha can be used to both treat imbalances and to prevent further problems occurring in the future. It's main applications are in the areas of pain and general health and wellbeing.

Common ailments that Gua Sha can be beneficial for include:

  • Aches, pains, injuries (especially effective for shoulder, neck and back problems)
  • Shin splints
  • Stress reduction
  • Headaches, migraines
  • Colds/flu/coughs
  • Promoting general health and wellbeing
 I've also personally found in my practice that Gua Sha, alongside acupuncture, can be beneficial in reducing internal heat in menopausal women and counter-acting hot flushes.
There are certain conditions for which Gua Sha is not recommended, so it is important for practitioners to know their patients' medical history and to avoid or act with caution where appropriate.
So; this is why i love using Gua Sha in my practice. It's a simple, yet highly effective technique which patients come to love. It can easily be taught for home use, thus empowering patients to support themselves in between treatments.
Caroline practices Five Element Acupuncture and Reflexology and is able to treat a wide range of conditions. Having faced her own fertility challenges, she is particularly interested in fertility and women's health. Visit her website here.

Tags: Acupuncture, Caroline Challender, Gua Sha, menopause, migraine, Stress

Treatments: Acupuncture

The views expressed in these blogs are those of the blog authors and do not necessarily reflect the views of The Bridge Centre for Natural Health.

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