Chinese scraping therapy, better known as Gua sha therapy, is an ancient natural Chinese therapy that works on the theory of TCM (Traditional Chinese medicine). Using materials such as jade or animal horns, a gua sha practitioner scrapes the skin on specific areas of the human body to dredge the meridians and improve the flow of blood.
The scraping of the skin with a gua sha tool causes the appearance of elevated small red petechiae which the Chinese call ‘sha.’ These marks typically dissipate within two to three days. The sha is caused by the dilation of the capillaries and this effect leads to certain benefits including the increase of blood flow and a better ability of the body to secrete sweat. The scraping process helps promote metabolic processes in the body and eliminates blood stagnation that’s considered pathogenic.
Gua sha can deliver immediate positive results for problems such as muscle pain related to cold syndrome, nausea, chills, cough, fever, heat stroke, stiffness and hypertension. When you get gua sha therapy on a regular basis, your body can have a well-functioning immune system, fatigue is relieved, and you can also coordinate the vital energy known as “qi” in your body.
All these are why gua sha is widely used in homes, beauty salons, Spa relaxation salons, and health clinics in China. Unfortunately, in the West, gua sha is still not a well-known form of therapy although we may find some traces of it from natural therapies like massage, and the popular graston therapy.
An easy to perform technique, gua sha therapy works well in treating and preventing a variety of health conditions including chronic and acute disorders, acute infectious diseases, digestive disorders, and upper respiratory conditions.
A lot of people who want to learn this therapy may find the theory of TCM a bit difficult to comprehend. But it is not really important that you need to know what an acupoint is or what meridians are, etc. What is relevant is that you need to follow the gua sha guide step by step and correctly use a gua sha tool to scrape the appropriate areas using the right method. That will be enough to experience the benefits of the therapy regardless if one understands or not the concept of TCM.
Some people are alarmed at the purplish red sha that appears after treatment. They may think that their skin had been injured. The color of the sha usually indicates the seriousness of your health problems. The deeper the color “sha” is, the more severe the disease is.
The “sha” is one form of waste or toxin “bleeding,” which previously got accumulated and blocked in the blood vessels. This is very much different from a bleeding caused by a physical breaking of the blood vessels. The therapy keeps the blood vessels intact whilst expelling waste and toxins from the blood.
The “sha” on the skin gradually disappears within three to five days under normal circumstance. It may take a week for the body to return to its normal status. The treatment will not damage the skin; on the contrary, it will make it more beautiful and healthier due to the strengthening and increase of local blood circulation.
The Benefits of Gua Sha Therapy
Gua sha is a type of natural therapy that can attain the purpose of healing diseases through the scraping of certain areas of the skin. The benefits one derives from it include among others a better functioning immune system and improvement of the body’s potential to resist disease; relief of pain and swelling; better metabolism; elimination of dampness, removal of wind cold; treatment of blood stasis; stimulation of qi, dredging of the meridians; improvement of microcirculation in order to reach the purpose of curing and preventing a disease.
Skin Beauty and Anti-Aging Benefits
If the flow of blood is impeded by intravascular metabolic waste, its movement can weaken causing pathological changes to the organs of the body. This poor blood flow can result in dark urine and constipation among others.
We may boost the excretory function of the blood vessels and organs through regular scraping of the acupuncture points on the limbs. Sweating, defecation, diuresis, and other bodily function can be also enhanced. The timely excretion of metabolites can lead to skin beauty and anti-aging effects.
Cure and Prevention of Disease Benefits
The main reason one gets disease and a weak body is because of the obstruction of the metabolic toxins or poisons in the blood vessels.
The body may suffer from endocrine disorders and physical fatigue due to too much mental activity, lack of exercise, and irregular rest-work time. Unfortunately, these are the normal lifestyles lived by modern people.
Aside from weak blood circulation, metabolic poisons that can cause congestion in the blood vessels can also arise from a poor lifestyle. This may lead to various organ dysfunctions in the body that can then result in many kinds of disease. Some of the more common diseases and symptoms that may arise from this include inflammation, gastrointestinal disease, dysmenorrhea, high blood pressure, and high levels of cholesterol.
With the help of gua sha therapy, blood vessels and sweat pores can be opened to increase the flow of blood. This makes it easier to eliminate metabolic wastes and toxins and treat fever, and intravascular stasis. The nutrients from the blood will circulate freely providing the body with enough nutrition to keep the tissues and organs healthy and functioning well. By maintaining proper circulation, one can help cure and prevent disease.
Gua sha can be used for several other ailments and health conditions. It can help relieve rheumatoid arthritis, muscle spasms, stiff neck, headaches, lumbar muscle strain, fever, frozen shoulder, gastrointestinal conditions, and heat.
Some points to remember when getting gua sha treatment:
1. Do not get gua sha therapy outdoors. In summer, try not to be exposed to a blowing fan and pay attention to the indoor temperature, especially in winter.
2. Do not repeat gua sha treatment on areas of the body were you previously had the treatment. If not, the “sha” in your body will not immediately disappear.
3. After having the treatment, allow 40 minutes to pass before showering.
4. Gua sha practitioners should perform the therapy with caution. Gua sha should not be performed on people who are drunk, or suffering from fatigue, or people suffering from excessive thirst, fullness or hunger as well as on people with systemic severe edema, cirrhosis, renal failure, heart failure, heart disease, skin disease, severe skin allergy, thrombocytopenia, leukemia, and on pregnant women.
5. After gua sha therapy, take a 15 to 20 minute rest. Also, drink a cup of warm water (sugar or salt water may be better).
In ancient China, people used several types of instruments to administer gua sha. They include.
A small buffalo horn plate
Small clam shell
Back side of a comb
For lubricant, alcohol, essential oil, edible oil, or water is used.
Nowadays, the tools used in gua sha therapy have improved a lot. Among the most widely used are horn materials and green jade. They are cheap and are the tools that are most commonly used in China.
In high class Spa Beauty Salons and Clinics, the gua sha tools used are made out of basalt stone or obsidian. Basalt stone can raise the levels of energy in yuor body. This material is therefore used a lot in western countries for massage therapy and in cold and hot therapy. On the other hand, obsidian stone can transmute negative qi to positive qi. It helps facilitates pain relief and has been known to ward off bad habits, negative energy and negative spirits.
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