Saturday, 29 September 2012


Blood circulation: Red = oxygenated Blue = deo...
Blood circulation: Red = oxygenated Blue = deoxygenated (Photo credit: Wikipedia)
Gua Sha or scraping therapy is an age old bodywork technique which is still practiced in China and other parts of Asia.

What is Gua Sha (刮痧)?

The word "Gua" means to scrape and "Sha" has three meanings.

1."Sha" from a TCM point of view, refers to the blood stasis or stagnant blood and qi that blocks the meridian pathway that can affect proper flow of energy and blood.  Blood stasis  will accumulate in the subcutaneous tissues.

2. From the western medicine point of view,  it refers to the fluids that contain metabolic waste that has accumulated in the tissues and muscles.

3. "Sha" can also be described a series of reddish, minute hemorrhages that look like a red colored speckled rash.  This is called petechia than can surface to the skin after a Gua Sha treatment.

It is often performed in TCM clinics, hospitals, spa as well as in many Asian households.  Gua Sha can be used to remedy your daily aches and pains or headeaches to chronic severe ailments.  By scrapping the skin surface to produce Petechiae helps to detoxify the body and relieve pain.

Gua Sha is popular in Asia because the technique is simple, easy to use, and the results are often fast and effective.

For those who have not had any experience with Gua Sha, you may think that it sounds bad.  Well, it does sounds bad and it looks bad too!  However, the appearance of petechia actually detoxifies and cleanses the body.

The aftermath of Gua Sha treatement
Picture credit: Wikipedia

By letting your body get rid of this old stagnant blood, new and healthier blood cells can be created.  Once your body releases excess waste, it can then allow your new cells to efficiently absorb more nutrients.

In other words, Gua Sha is a body detoxification and deep massage technique.

What are the Benefits of Gua Sha?

In TCM, blood stagnation is considered to cause many diseases.  The scraping technique can release the body of blood stagnation.  .

Imagine this.  Running water will give clear and clean water while a stagnant pool will be full of dirt, moss, rubbish, undergrowth.  Our entire blood circulation is very similar to this.  When our blood is not flowing smoothly,  it begins to slow down and eventually becomes stagnant.  This will create an environment for the development of diseases.

When Gua Sha is applied, it quickly releases blockages in your body that has been caused by stagnant blood.  It actually mimics sweating and promotes circulation of your body fluids. By doing so, it helps to normalize cellular metabolic processes and release toxic waste from your deep cellular tissues.  

As your blood and qi circulation increases, it helps to oxidize your cells as well as to nourish them.  

What are the functions of Gua Sha?

Gua Sha has two main functions.
  • Detoxification
  • Cell Nourishment


Using stroking action, it releases petechiae to the surface of the skin.  Petechiae is a byproduct that triggers the body to process cleansing of the area and eliminates both the dead  blood cells as well as other toxins from the skin surface.

Activates cell nourishment

When petechiae appears on the skin surface, it actually forces more blood and oxygen to the area that is treated.  In doing so, it helps to nourish those cells.

gua sha
gua sha (Photo credit: AmySelleck)

After a treatment, the patient often has immediate relief from pain, headaches, fever, chills, cough, chest pains, nausea, stiffness, etc. 

With a series of treatments,  gua sha is able to release enough toxins to allow the body to find inner balance.

What tools are used for Gua Sha?

The most commonly used tool is called a “gua sha ban” (刮痧板 literally meaning gua sha board) and this can be made from:

  • horned animal bones, 
  • water buffalo horn, 
  • or jade. 
These are my own personal collection of Gua Sha boards and  oil

If you do not have these tools you may also use the following:
  • Ceramic Chinese soup spoon
  • Metal spoon
  • A fifty cents coin

How is Gua Sha performed?

Step One

The area that will be treated will first be lubricated with massage oil.  You may also use other types of oil such as coconut oil, olive oil, essential oils or vics vapor rub if you have a cold.

(It is also beneficial to first take a hot bath before the treatment in order to warm up the muscles and increase blood circulation.) 

Step Two

A chosen area of the skin is then stroked in a downward motion at a 30 degree angle, using a smooth edged device.  (Please refer to What type of tools are used for Gua Sha)

Just make sure that the surface of the device used is smooth edged so that it will be comfortable when used on the skin. 

Step Three

Continue to stroke in a downward motion until the petechiae surfaces to the skin completely. 

You’ll know you’re done treating an area when even with continuous stroking, no petechiae continues to surface. If after several downward stroking motions, the skin only becomes red, and no petechiae surface then that means there is no “sha” in the area and you can start scraping another part of the skin.

When the patient starts to complain that the area you’re working on is sensitive, you can apply more oil or use a softer stroke. 

Also, remember to avoid scraping moles, cuts, or any unhealed open sores. “Sha” is usually found on the Yang surfaces of the body such as the back, neck, shoulders, and limbs but  you can also get great results when applied to the chest and abdomen.

What does the color of the Sha indicate?

Purple or Black Sha———— Long Term Blood Stasis
Brown Sha ————————— Blood may be dry

Very Light Colored Sha ——– Blood Deficiency
Fresh Red Sha ———————- Recent Penetration

Dark Red Sha —————-May indicate heat in blood

Will the petechiae fade?

The sha usually fades within 2 to 4 days. If it takes longer to fade, this often indicates poor blood circulation and the practitioner should provide you with further advice on how to improve your overall circulation. 

With continuous Gua Sha treatments, the sha will start to fade faster which will be a good sign since it’s an indication of better blood circulation.

What type of ailments can Gua Sha be used for?
Gua Sha can be used when a patient has pain, aches, tenderness, or tension in the muscles. It is also used to prevent the common cold, flu, bronchitis, asthma, as well as any other chronic disorders that involve the congestion of blood and qi.

Gua Sha can also be applied for these conditions:
Cough and Dyspnea: Bronchitis, Asthma, Emphysema
Fatigue caused by heat-stroke

Tooth Pains
Swollen Throat

Excess phlegm
Memory Loss

Area to treat: Head, Neck, Throat, Shoulders

Digestive Disorders

Food Poisoning
Gynecological Disorders

Areas to treat:  Stomach, Lower abdomen, Back and Lower Back

Muscle and Tendon Injuries

Area to treat: The affected muscle or tendon.  Make sure that there are no sores or cuts before starting treatment.

Chest Pains
Heart Palpitations

Area to treat: Chest, Ribs and Sides 

Sluggish Blood Circulation
Stiffness, Pain, Immobility
Urinary Problems
Excessive sweating
High Blood Pressure
Low Blood Pressure
Weight loss
Hormonal Imbalances
Skin Disorders
and more…

Area to be treated: Whole Body

For minor ailments, applying Gua Sha on affect areas will usually bring fast relief. To get best results for more serious or chronic diseases, apply Gua Sha from head to foot.
How often should Gua Sha be performed?

This technique can be performed 3 times a week and has better results when done on a continuous basis. 

Is Gua Sha safe?

Gua Sha is a completely safe technique that can be used for pretty much any ailment. 

Make sure after a treatment you allow your body to rest in order to get the full detox benefits. This means no drugs, alcohol, sex, fasting, binging, hard labor, strenuous exercises, etc. for the rest of the day. 

Also, make sure you drink loads of warm water after the treatment as well in the next couple of days to keep your body well hydrated so that it can properly eliminate toxins released during the treatment.

Personal Experiences

When my mom or dad have a headache or fever,  they will get me to use a ceramic spoon and Vics vapor rub was used to scrape their necks and shoulders area.  Peteciae will appear and usually it was dark red sha which meant that their bodies has excessive heat and thus they would also have fever. Once the gua sha is completed, their fever and headache will subside almost immediately.
Deutsch: Patient nach Gua Sha Behandlung
 Patient nach Gua Sha Behandlung (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

I have had Gua Sha done on my whole body by my masseur.  Once it was completed, my body would immediately feel very relaxed and light.  

As the peteciae may look like bruises, or as if you were whipped, it is best to do this treatment on your off days or over the weekend especially if it is around your neck and arms area.  Other areas can be covered with long sleeves or pants if you need to go out.

Gua Sha is the safest, easiest and most natural way to release build up of toxins in your body and allow nutrients in for a stronger and healthier body.  

My next topic for discussion is, "Top Five Natural Sugar Substitutes."

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Standing twenty feet tall.
Long neck, bent slender, 
Standing five feet small, 
Caressing gently, tender
Wildlife, in all Splendor.

Loving is universal, 
Like a mysterious parcel, 
Deep love is Spiritual, 
Passionate love, Unpredictable.
True love, Unexplainable.
But love is there to find.
Once we do, it bind. 

Thanks for looking and taking the time to read my blog. Until my next post,

"Here's To Your Health"

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