Gua Sha is an accessory technique often used in addition to acupuncture and/or tui na (chinese massage) treatments. It is especially helpful in relieving pain as well as recovering from colds.
Gua Sha means to "sand scrape" in Chinese or "to scrape away disease". It is a relatively simple procedure that requires a little bit of oil or rubbing alcohol and a Chinese soup spoon or other smooth surface tool like the ones pictured above.
Its theory is close to that of cupping however this technique is more accessible in terms of equipment needed (a lubricant or rubbing alcohol and a soup spoon) and areas of the body able to benefit by it (just about anywhere there has been trauma or pain). A treatment of Gua Sha will last roughly 5 minutes and the results can offer immediate relief.
Gua Sha is preformed over an area of pain by first applying some oil to lubricate the area. Then the spoon is scraped along that area until it turns red, brownish, or purplish. The scraping continues until no more redness or purple appears. It is believed this scraping helps bring the stagnant blood or trauma up to the surface allowing for fresh blood to come in and repair the area as well as improve circulation of qi and blood. The redness or bruising can last up to a week and then dissipate. However, it will not feel like a bruise.
Gua Sha is preformed using rubbing alcohol and light scraping over the back "shu" acupuncture points that stimulate the lungs, dispel wind, and relieve wheezing for the treatment of initial wind-cold attacks. For more information on acupuncture and the treatment of colds refer back to How Can Acupuncture Help My Cold?
Gua Sha's modern counterpart is known in chiropractic offices as Graston Technique where various stainless steel instruments are used to achieve the same effect with a western medical explanation of its use and benefit.
Sarah Zender LAc
Whole Health Acupuncture 50 Turner Ave Elk Grove Village IL 847.357.3929