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What Is Gua Sha Therapy?

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The two Chinese characters representing “Gua Sha” literally translates to rub or scrape (Gua) and an elevated reddish grainy skin rash (Sha), which is also known as ‘petechiae.’ Gua Sha is a form of traditional Chinese medicine treatment that involves applied pressure and repeated scraping of an elevated reddish skin rash while using a manual instrument.

This manual tool, sometimes shaped like a thin disc or a ceramic soup spoon, should have a curved surface. The traditional tool which is a polished horn of a water buffalo is the tool most commonly preferred by practitioners. The tool is placed over the skin (that has been made slippery with massage oil) and problematic regions of the body and with firm pressure, scraped many times over. The force of the scraping elevates the ‘Sha,’ resulting in what seems to look like a temporary bruising.

This procedure is known to be painless although the eventual bruising can at times be mistaken for a painful injury. Within two to three days, the marks (that are considered an essential part of the treatment) usually quickly diminish. Also, the ‘Sha’ imparts a visual indication that tells the practitioner of the condition of the circulation in the site of the treatment. This diagnostic sign can serve as feedback prior to beginning treatments for issues such as sciatic pain or neck tension.

Some knowledge on how the muscles of the body move together and connect is required in order to properly apply this technique. Without having at least a basic understanding of human physiology and anatomy of the human body, a beginner can generate very few results using this technique.

Gua Sha therapy can be used to treat several bodily ailments with extreme effectiveness especially if the practitioner is experienced and skilled. The treatment is often applied on the neck, shoulders, buttocks, and back. It is often used to treat common problems such as the cold, eliminate toxins and pathogens from the body, and to boost the function of the immune system. Gua Sha can help quickly relieve sciatic pain specifically the pain and numbness caused by the bearing of pressure in the sciatic nerve.

When combined with acupuncture treatment in Bellingham, the red marks from Gua Sha therapy can be used to detect Qi or energy stagnation, oxygen deficiency, and the presence of toxins in the body. After the scraping procedure, the acupuncturist should be able to easily interpret the diagnostic signs and formulate a type of acupuncture treatment session to address the particular diagnosed problem. This narrowing and identification of the problem area can be a very useful diagnostic aid that makes it possible to get a more focused treatment.

As a treatment, Gua Sha, can be used for various types of conditions and ailments and is widely deemed safe and effective. However, it should not be used for the following conditions:

• Persons with skin diseases or open wounds
• On varicose veins
• People taking warfarin or other anti-coagulant drugs
• People with bleeding disorders
• Immediately after surgery
• Pregnant women
• People with weak constitutions

Aside from answering what Gua Sha is, it is also important to point out some of the safety measures that need to be taken after a session of Gua Sha therapy.

After a Gua Sha treatment, the person should drink some warm water and rest for a while. The patient is also advised not to take a cold water bath or shower at least a whole day (24 hours) following a session. Besides that, following treatment, the patient should also keep all the treated parts of the body warm and covered and protected from the wind.

Written by Valerie

October 31st, 2017 at 4:42 pm