Gua Sha Helps Improve The Function Of Your Lymphatic System

If you want to take control of your own health, self-care practices are a great way to go. Knowing how to support the natural healing processes of your body and understanding how the body works can help you feel better in a natural way without using any medications or drugs. Maintenance of the smooth flow of lymph in your body is the best way to enhance your immune system as we enter the flu and cold season. Do you have kids who come home from school with runny noses every fall? Now, we will share with you a DIY and easy way to boost your lymphatic system so you can defend yourself and your loved ones against those nasty germs and bugs: Gua Sha.

The Lymphatic System

This system is composed of the tonsils, thymus gland, spleen, lymph nodes and glands. The lymphatic system does not use a pump to move the lymph fluids unlike the circulatory system. It solely relies on the body’s movement in order for it to flow. This system plays a very important role in the body’s immune function and oftentimes it’s referred to as the immune system. The cells of our body are bathed through the lymphatic system and it carries away the cellular waste from the tissues to the blood in our body, wherein it is filtered by the two primary detoxification organs of the body: the kidneys and liver. Those toxins are made up of pesticides, food additives, airborne pollutants, cigarette poisons, illegal drugs, prescription and over-the counter drugs, byproducts of our bodily processes, and other kinds of toxins.

Organs that Make Up the Lymphatic System

According to the Ayurvedia, the traditional Indian science of life, the lymphatic system is considered the Rasa or the river of life. Our immune system is strong when lymph flow is strong, which makes us strong and able to resist infections and germs. As mentioned a while ago, to keep the lymphatic system flowing, it relies on external forces such as intentional massage or muscle movement.

Practicing a self-care therapy known as Gua Sha is a great way to maintain the smooth flow of lymph fluids. We learned this practice while studying Ayurveda from expert Chinese medicine practitioners.

What is Gua Sha?

An ancient bodywork method that can be used for pretty much anything to help strengthen immunity, gua sha is commonly used to treat your daily pains and aches from headaches to migraines and serious chronic ailments. It is intentionally used to “bruise” lightly the skin by utilizing a scraping procedure in order to detoxify the body. Gua sha therapy helps release accumulated waste in the body, stimulates healing and promotes the smooth flow of blood.

In English, “Gua” means to scrape, and “Sha” is the stuck chi and blood that interferes in the smooth flow of blood and energy. Gua sha helps move the fluids that carry metabolic waste which have built up in the muscles and tissues. “Sha” also pertains to the minute reddish hemorrhages known as petechiae (that look like a speckled reddish rash) that appear on the skin surface after Gua Sha therapy.

During this process, the practitioner uses a flat piece of stone, bone, or wood tool to move the lymph. This causes the release of stagnation and congestion along the energy channels of the body, resulting in the breakdown of scar tissue and the release of lactic acid from the muscles. The tool’s edge is thoroughly scraped across the surface of the skin, usually starting from hands to heart and from feet to heart. The rubbing can result in some sort of bruising due to the release of toxins from the skin. What practitioners have observed is that the bruising tends to decrease as the tissues of the patient gets stronger.

When and How to Use Gua Sha Therapy

You need not get treatment from an expensive body worker in order to derive the benefits of gua sha therapy. We very much recommend that you get your own gua sha tool and integrate this self-care healing technique into your daily practice. Gua sha tools made of bone can be easily purchased online. You may also create your own tool using a jar lid or a spoon.

Begin by observing whether your muscles feel knotty or tense. One indication of stagnation is a blanched spot after pushing down on tissue that turns pinkish in color and is slow to back up. Scrape along the tense parts of your body with your gua sha tool, always moving towards the heart’s direction. This will assist the movement of lymph in the proper direction. You may apply lubricating oil if it makes the treatment more comfortable. We recommend using olive oil, sesame oil, or coconut oil. Generate adequate friction to elevate the toxins that have risen to the surface of the skin to actually eliminate illness in the body. Slowly begin and don’t be shy. At first, it can feel extreme; eventually, however, you may find that you actually are enjoying the therapy.

For some people, gua sha therapy is much more fun when it is done in the bath. They rub the gua sha tool up their legs in vigorous strong strokes while taking a warm detox bath with either apple cider vinegar or epsom salts. A lot of people tend to experience stagnation in the back of their thighs so they work on those areas very well. For my part, due to sitting in the computer for long hours, I usually experience tension in the back of my neck and so I perform gua sha on my shoulder and the back of my neck, rubbing in a direction towards my heart.

But to get the best results, I seek the help of a friend to perform gua sha on regions that I can’t reach. A lot of people experience meaningful relief from having the therapy done on their back, either running the gua sha along the muscles themselves or along the sides of their spine.

Please don’t be scared if you see the appearance of significant reddening or bruising. This indicates that your body has a large build up toxins that needs to be removed. They will heal within two to three days. Slowly and surely, stick with it. It will eventually move.

Dr. Vickery is a licensed acupuncturist in Tarzana, CA., and the founder and clinical director of Vickery Health and Wellness.

Gua Sha Can Eliminate Pain In Any Chronic Or Acute Disorder

Whenever a patient has pain in any chronic or acute disorder gua sha therapy can be used. There may be a knotty feeling, tenderness, and/or aching in the muscles. Palpation can determine sha when normal finger pressure is applied on the patient’s skin resulting in blanching that is slow to dissipate. Aside from alleviating musculoskeletal pain, gua sha can be used to prevent or treat common ailments like asthma, bronchitis, flu, and cold as well as any chronic disorder that involve inflammation or pain.

Practically any part of the body can undergo Gua sha although the therapy is usually done at the limbs, buttocks, stomach, chest, shoulders, neck, and back. It can also be applied over the joints but not without first treating the energy pathways that supply a joint area.

The treatment begins with the area of treatment lubricated with balm or oil. The area is press-stroked with a round-edged instrument in one direction until the petechiae are completely elevated. One can learn how to safely apply Gua sha from an experienced master practitioner.

In China, peanut oil was the lubricant of choice for many practitioners. In the West, some practitioners use Vick’s Vapo-rub because of the aroma which is familiar to many patients. You need to know though that Vicks is a petroleum based product. Tiger Balm may not be a good lubricant for Gua sha because it is too spicy.

In Asia, practitioners use a wide variety of scraping tools like jade, horn of a water buffalo, coin, or soup spoon. Some have discovered that a simple rounded lip metal cap can be an ideal scraping tool mainly because it feels more comfortable to the patient. Also after one use, it can be easily disposed of thus avoiding any risk of transferring blood borne diseases to another person.

The color of the Sha is used for both prognostic and diagnostic purposes. The practitioner observes the color of the sha, how rapidly it vanishes, and its quality. The information gleaned from this observation will determine the diagnosis, that is, in evaluating the pattern, mutability, quality, and location of the problem.

The petechiae of the Sha usually should fade within two to four days. If it fades slower, this may mean the blood flow in the body is weak and the practitioner must determine whether its root cause is organ deficiency; deeper stagnation; or Yang, Qi, or Blood deficiency.

However, in most instances, the patient experiences a rapid improvement of his condition especially with regards to range of movement, sense of constraint, and/or pain. According to traditional Chinese medicine, Gua Sha works by moving stagnant Blood and Qi, freeing the Exterior, and by moving, sweating, and mimicking Fluids.

Recent clinical studies have revealed that Gua sha eliminates inflammation and pain while activating a protective immune reaction that, following treatment, can last for days. It is an ideal remedy for musculoskeletal conditions and for internal organ problems like hepatic and respiratory inflammation.

A safe technique when perform by a well-trained practitioner, Gua sha is also serious medicine. As important as knowing how the technique is done is knowing when to use it and what to expect from the treatment. Since Gua sha elevates cells out of the blood vessels and some of these cells may manifest in the skin, the practitioner must follow safety guidelines to prevent the patient from being exposed to blood borne diseases.

After treatment, you need to rest and only perform moderate activity if it’s really needed. You should not feast, fast, have sex, drink booze, take drugs, or perform hard labor (that includes working out) for the rest of the day.

Mark Whalen is a Licensed Acupuncturist and Board Certified Herbalist and the founder of Five Points Acupuncture and Wellness in Reading, MA.

Gua Sha Can Deliver Immediate Results For Various Ailments And Conditions

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
Sandalwood
Small clam shell
Back side of a comb
Porcelain spoon
Bow
Coin
Cotton thread
Flax
Ramie

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.

Eastern Healing Solutions, LLC
10875 Grandview St #2200
Overland Park, KS 66210
(913) 549-4322
http://www.overlandparkacupuncturist.com