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The Various Benefits Of Gua Sha Therapy

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The benefits of gua sha therapy are numerous and it especially works against any chronic disorder that involves inflammation or pain.

Gua sha promotes smooth flow of blood to the organs, connective tissues, and muscles; enhances range of movement; and relieves pain and spasms. One session of this therapy often heads off an oncoming cold and can be an effective way to quiet a persistent cough. Studies have revealed that gua sha results in a four-fold boost in microcirculation, stimulates the immune system, and treats inflammation. It also increases the activity of an enzyme that helps lessen inflammation of the internal organ: the heme-oxygenase-1. The upregulation of HO-1 explains in part the use of gua sha for internal organ conditions such as liver disease cough, hepatitis and asthma.

Does gua sha leave bruises or abrasions in the body?

While the site of treatment in gua sha will look like road rash after the therapy, surface of the skin is totally intact and there is no bleeding related to this technique. Gua sha will leave skin discoloration that looks like a bruise but is not. Bruising happens when a sheer force or blow damages the capillaries and leads to bleeding in the tissue. In gua sha, however, blood cells are pressed or extravasated via the capillary walls without the surrounding tissues and the capillaries being damaged. The site of treatment will usually feel a bit tender after treatment but all in all, the result is rapid alleviation of pain and an increase in range of movement.

What happens during and after the therapy?

During the procedure, the therapist utilizes a smooth-edged instrument to stroke the skin repeatedly. Gua means “press stroke” or “to rub” while Sha is a word that denotes the congestion of blood in the surface tissue in parts of the body where the patient experiences pain and stiffness; sha can also refer to the tiny red spots that are elevated during the procedure. “Petechiae” is the medical term for the red spots that occurs during the therapy.

Those petechiae are the blood cells that have been pressed outside of the tiny blood vessels (capillaries) as the therapist strokes the skin time and time again. The process of re-absorption within the body immediately starts and it is the this process, combined with a significant rise in local circulation, that leads to the pain-relieving, immune-boosting, and anti-inflammatory benefits that gua sha provides.

Why is the color of sha important and how quick does it fade?

The associated petechiae from gua sha range in color from bright to dark red, and from blue to almost black. When the therapy is performed at the site of an acute or relatively new problem, the color of the petechiae usually is bright red. The reason for this is that the blood stuck beneath the skin in the connective tissue arises during only the procedure. In contrast, the ensuing petechiae when the therapy is done on the treatment site that experiences chronic injury or pain are usually bluish or even black in color. This is due to the blood that has been stagnant for a considerable amount of time.

Also important is how rapid the petechiae dissipate following the procedure. Among young healthy individuals with strong circulatory systems, petechiae vanish quite rapidly. If the gua sha is performed on children in the morning, the petechiae usually vanish by the end of the day. On the other hand, among older people suffering from chronic pain or with slow or weak circulation, the petechiae may need almost a week to completely vanish.

Individuals with stagnant circulation may find that their skin takes longer than usual to return to its normal appearance.

It’s important to remember the following instructions days after your gua sha treatment:

1. For three days following treatment, drink lots of water.

2. As the site of treatment becomes more flexible and dramatically less painful, be informed that if the site is overburdened by strenuous activity days following treatment, it will be prone to re-injury.

3. Wear a scarf over the treated site during windy or cool weather. Use a shirt to cover the treated site at night.

4. Avoid exposing the treated site to extreme temperature, direct sunlight, or drafts till the appearance of your skin goes back to normal.

Cynthia Chamberlain is a licensed acupuncturist in Overland Park, KS.

Written by Valerie

April 17th, 2018 at 4:53 am