Gua Sha is a medical treatment used in Southeast Asia and Chinese Medicine. 'Gua' means to scrape or rub. 'Sha' is the term for the red petechiae or rash that appears on the skin. 'Sha' also refers to the release of blood stagnation that causes bruising or ecchymosis.
Sometimes called spooning or coining, Gua Sha is an instrument-assisted massage that scrapes unilaterally against oiled skin, relieving stuck fascial adhesions while improving lymphatic and blood flow. Traditionally, water buffalo horn, pieces of jade, spoons and coins were used. The most common areas for treatment are the neck, back, shoulders and limbs although the chest and abdomen can also be indicated. Facial treatments are also performed in conjunction with cosmetic acupuncture to improve skin elasticity, increase circulation and firmness of the skin.
Gua Sha is a detoxifying treatment used to treat and prevent the common cold, flu, allergic congestion, bronchitis, asthma, and acute or chronic pain. The scraping brings all of the heat and toxins to the surface to be flushed out with the body's normal waste processes. It can bring down a high fever, relieve knotted muscle tension, regulate metabolic functions and resolve respiratory distress. Modern research shows the transitory therapeutic effect of the petechiae produces an anti-inflammatory and immune-boosting effect that lasts days following a single treatment. In addition to cupping and acupuncture, Gua Sha is known to immediately relieve wheezing, nausea, stiffness, hot flashes, chills and vomiting.
The resulting color and intensity of the Sha is diagnostic. Blood deficiency and anemia shows as a light pink or pale color. If the color is fresh and intensely red, the condition being treated is acute and superficial, it has not yet affected the deeper organs and tissues. If the condition is chronic, the Sha is maroon or purplish in color, sometimes resulting in an almost black appearance from long standing stagnation. If it appears brown, there may be dehydration associated to the condition. A dark red appearance shows the release of heat from the body and is a healthy sign of detoxification.
Gua Sha revitalizes and rejuvenates, helping to diminish physical symptoms and relieve stress. After treatment, relief is often experienced immediately although the rash and bruising may take a few days to heal. It is a simple treatment that has been proven effective over thousands of years.