Gua Sha is a traditional Chinese healing technique practiced in clinics and homes for centuries. The treatment is now found all over the world, but it is more common in Asian countries, especially Vietnam, Indonesia, Thailand and of course, China.
What is “Gua Sha”?
Sometimes known as “Spooning”, “coining” or “scraping”, Gua Sha is a healing technique that intentionally bruises the skin in order to remove toxins from injured areas, stimulate blood flow and thus increase healing.
The ancient treatment involves stimulation of the blood vessels by applying pressure in downward strokes using a smooth round edged instrument, which is believed to remove stagnation of the blood and promote circulation and normal metabolism.
The “Sha” part of the name is the term used to describe the reddened, elevated skin rash/bruising that can sometimes occur following treatment.
What’s it used for?
Gua Sha is used to treat a myriad of ailments. From treating muscle soreness, colds, flu and other infectious illnesses, to asthma, digestive problems, and even chronic pain.
Essentially, the Chinese believe that many of these problems can be caused by a block of Qi (energy) in the blood. The treatment is said to free up Qi and decongest blood, thus reducing the symptoms.
Another common use for Gua Sha is on the face, to reduce wrinkles and remove toxic fluid deposits, thus thinning and ‘lifting’ the face, giving a younger appearance. Facial Gua Sha is becoming more and more popular as many have reported noticing positive results after just one or two sessions of the treatment.
When practicing facial Gua Sha the process is much lighter and thus doesn’t leave any bruising or marks.
What is “Sha”?
As mentioned earlier, Sha refers to the reddened elevated skin that can be a result of the treatment. The type of Sha that the patient experiences is used to indicate what type of problems they are suffering from.
If there is no problem the skin will only turn pink. If the Sha is black, it indicates that there has been a prolonged blood stasis (stagnation), and a very light Sha indicates a deficiency of some kind in the blood.
Usually “Sha” will fade within 2 to 3 days.
How is the treatment applied?
Sha is raised while the patient is lying on their stomach. The back, shoulders, neck and limbs are the most commonly treated areas. Rarely is Sha raised on the chest and abdomen.
It begins with a generous application of oil, after which the skin is rubbed in strokes of 4 to 6 inches, with a smooth round edged instrument. The skin is rubbed continuously for 20 to 25 minutes.
Traditionally, people have used many objects as Gua Sha tools over the centuries, from water buffalo’s horns to soup spoons and even coins. Nowadays though, Jade is the material of choice for modern-day professional Gua Sha therapists.
Is it safe? Or painful?
Gua Sha may seem like a painful or unpleasant experience due to the redness left on the skin which some people experience after treatment, but in fact it is mostly painless. Some people do occasionally report small discomforts however, especially when working on particularly sore or tense areas of the body.
Effectively, Gua Sha is just a form of body work like a massage, the main difference being that a tool is used. And, due to the ability of this treatment to stimulate blood circulation, it is believed to be both a preventative and curative practice with numerous health benefits.
Keep an eye out on Raw Cafe’s Facebook page for information on possible upcoming Gua Sha related events at Atsumi Raw Cafe.