Gua sha is an East Asian therapeutic healing technique. Gua means to rub or to scrape. Sha is a reddish skin rash or petechiae. It is used in China as an adjunct to Chinese Medicine although it is practiced widely in many countries. It is used most widely amongst family members for treating a number of common ailments. Initially it was used to treat the effects of climatic exposure, colds and flu and rheumatic pain of the elderly.
In the latter half of last century, gua sha was further refined and channel gua sha was developed. This was used more by practitioners of Chinese Medicine as a way of diagnosing and treating pain along the meridians. In the 1990’s a further refinement was made and holographic gua sha was developed. This idea was that you could diagnose and treat any aspect of the body from the finger, scalp, ear or any major bone. This is similar to the idea of Reflexology where a particular zone of the foot or hand is connected to the function and health of a region of the body.
What does Gua Sha Do?
Gua sha releases exterior causes of disease from the body by moving body fluids and blood, stimulating blood flow and helping to discharge trapped external pathogenic factors through the skin.
The skin will feel warm and red marks are often seen after a gua sha treatment. This redness or purplish hue to the skin is trapped or congealed blood and damaged tissue that is not circulating properly in the body.
Gua sha is commonly used in the home to treat a wide range of basic health problems:
Treat stiffness, immobility and rheumatic pain
Treat muscle and tendon injuries.
Treat fatigue caused by exposure to heat or cold.
Bronchitis, asthma, emphysema and common cold
Treat digestive disorders
Treat urinary, gynaecological disorders
To assist with reactions to food poisoning.
Gua sha is also used whenever a patient has pain associated with an acute or even chronic disorder. If you are worried about walking around with a rash over your neck, then you can do a simple test to see if sha will likely come up. Press your finger into the area you are concerned about. Wait for the skin to turn white. When you release your finger, if the white skin takes a while for the colour to return, then there will likely be sha if you do gua sha in that area.
In addition to resolving muscular skeletal pain, gua sha is used to prevent disease. By regularly clearing the silt from the areas of the body, particularly the joints, it prevents external diseases from finding a good beachhead into the body.
Gua sha is a very underused technique by most oriental therapists. However, in our clinic we have embraced gua sha as a very powerful modality in treating both chronic pain and acute injuries and over the last few years have hosted training courses to teach this method to many therapists.
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