The ancient Chinese technique of gua sha offers a very unique approach to health. The therapy involves gently scraping the skin with a gua sha tool to improve circulation and lymphatic congestion.
Scraping the skin stimulates the microcirculation of soft tissue, which in turn increases blood flow. This technique is generally used on face, arms, legs, buttocks, back, neck and breasts when engorged after childbirth. The masseuse or technician applies oil to the skin and uses the tool to apply long and short strokes to the skin, to encourage lymph flow and increased circulation.
6 Gua sha Benefits
This technique is frequently used for ailments that can cause chronic pain such as fibromyalgia and arthritis, in addition to those can trigger joint and muscle pain.
Hepatitis B-This viral infection can cause liver damage, scarring and inflammation. This study followed a man with high liver enzyme levels, which is an indicator of liver inflammation. Forty -eight hours after receiving a gua sha treatment, test showed a decline in liver enzyme levels. While more research is needed, it led researchers to believe that Gua sha has the ability to reduce liver inflammation.
Perimenopausal Symptoms-Women approaching menopause can experience symptoms such as fatigue, hot flashes, anxiety, insomnia, and irregular periods. This study shares the results of 80 women with perimenopausal symptoms. Participants were divided into two groups. The control group received conventional treatment. In addition to conventional treatment, the intervention group received one weekly 15-minute gua sha session for 8 weeks. At the studies’ conclusion, women in the intervention group reported a significant reduction in their symptoms.
Migraine headaches-Migraine headache symptoms range from seeing auras to debilitating hours in total darkness, with severe nausea and headaches. A 72-year-old who had chronic headaches received gua sha treatments over 14 days. Her migraines showed improvement during this time frame, suggesting that this treatment may offer relief for migraine sufferers.
Diabetic Neuropathy Pain-This randomized control study of 119 patients over 12 weeks, had patients receive 1 session per week. Over a 12 week period, mean scores reveal that Gua sha therapy produced effective and progressive improvement in the management of diabetic neuropathy pain symptoms, sensory function, peripheral artery disease and glucose levels. In addition, gua sha therapy appeared to be effective at reducing the severity of DPN.
Chronic Neck pain– In this small study 48 patients were divided into two groups to determine the effectiveness of gua sha. For one week, one group used a simple heating pad for relief, the other group was given gua sha treatment. At the end of the week, the gua sha recipients reported less pain.
Tourette Syndrome-This syndrome involves facial tics, involuntary movements, vocal outbursts. This single case study involved a 33 year old male, who was diagnosed with Tourette’s at age 9. He received a variety of treatments including a modified lifestyle, herbs, acupuncture and gua sha. He received these treatments weekly for 35 weeks and saw a 70% improvement in his symptoms. More research is needed, as many modalities were included in the study.
Gua Sha Tools
Gua sha stone. This small handheld tool is usually made of quartz, jade, or other smooth stone. The edges are rounded and smooth. It is commonly used for facial gua sha, which can increase circulation, sculpt the skin and relieve tension.
Gua sha spoon. This spoon made with a variety of stone types including jade and quartz is designed to sculpt facial muscles and release facial tension through different acupressure points. It is designed for more precise work.
Simple Steps to Give Yourself a Gua Sha Facial
With a gua sha facial, you are moving lymph which carries away toxins. This technique helps to firm and tone the skin and is a very relaxing process. Think of this as a gentle face massage, you are not scraping or pressing hard on the face.
Start with a clean face and clean hands. Apply oil over the face and neck, apply enough oil that the stone will glide over your skin. To begin, warm your gua sha tool by holding it between your hands. Keep your tool almost flat against your skin at a 15-degree angle.
- Gently sweep the stone up your neck on both sides, going very lightly over the Adam’s apple.
- Next, lightly sweep from the middle of your chin, over your jawline moving toward your earlobe.
- Continue sweeping the gua sha stone underneath your cheekbone, towards your hairline.
- Move the gua sha stone over your cheekbones, finishing at the hairline.
- Very gently and lightly stroke under your eyes. Alternately, sweep from the inner corner of the eye to the hairline, this is a more traditional direction for gua sha.
- Next, sweep over the eyebrow out towards the hairline.
- Then move up from the brow bone and over the forehead to the hairline. Continue until you have stroked the entire forehead.
- Perform the same steps on the other side of your face.
- Complete your facial by gently gliding the gua sha stone down the neck to the collarbone.
Repeat all movements three to five times, three times a week to see noticeable results.
Clean your stone after each use. Wet your hands with warm water and a drop of soap. Lather the stone for a few seconds, rinse and dry with a soft microfiber cloth.
If seeing a professional, speak up about pressure being too great or needing more oil on your skin for an easier glide.
whole body treatments should only be performed by a licensed acupuncturist, TCM practitioner, or someone with a certificate in gua sha.
Avoid if you have had surgery in the last six to eight weeks.
Individuals with clotting disorders or who take blood thinners are not good candidates for gua sha.