What is Gua sha?

Gua sha for health, healing and beauty

Gua sha has been used for thousands of years as a form of massage. It incorporates the use of a handheld tool, like a porcelain soup spoon or smooth stone. The tool is used to massage the skin and muscles with light, moderate or heavy pressure.  “Gua” is to rub or scrape”  

“Sha” is the red or purple petechia rash that often appears on the skin when the muscle is loosening and blood is circulating to the subcutaneous tissue. The sha will dissipate on its own after several days.

Gua sha can be done anywhere on the body including the back, neck, head, face, chest, abdomen, arms, and legs.

Want to learn gua sha for facial rejuvenation? Sign up for my live class on Wednesday, November 18. Click here for more information.

Who can benefit from Gua sha

Gua sha is beneficial to people of all ages including young children, adults, and pregnant or nursing mothers. It is especially beneficial to those with headaches or migraines, respiratory issues like cold and flu symptoms and bronchitis. Gua sha is also beneficial to those seeking general relaxation, relief from stress, and muscle tightness.

This technique may not be recommended for those with chronic pain and inflammation. Please consult with a licensed Chinese medicine physician to find out if it is a treatment that would benefit you.,

benefits of gua sha

Gua sha is excellent for decreasing muscle tension, stress and inflammation in the body. In Chinese medicine these symptoms are often viewed as heat and/or stagnation. For example, muscle tension and stress can be a combination of heat and stagnation. Heat is created with physical tension and the emotions surrounding stress. Stagnation is the body holding onto, which creates physical, mental or emotional tightness. 

Here is where gua sha comes in. “Gua” helps to aid the body in releasing and relaxation the stagnation by massaging it and dispersing it so that it is no longer stagnated or congealed in a particular area. The “sha” is the heat that is release through the massage. Once this heat is released, it is no longer a burden to your system or one that your body has to clear itself.

I often find myself saying that gua sha is similar to a deep tissue massage in a quarter of the time.

Gua sha also increases blood circulation in targeted areas of the body. This makes gua sha excellent for the treatment of physical injuries or traumas like strains and sprains. We can also use gua sha to stimulate the lymphatic system. This technique aids the lymphatic system in removing toxins and waste material from the body.

This patient on the right came in with very early cold symptoms. She was showing signs of tight neck and shoulders, fatigue, and a scratchy sore throat. She immediately noticed a decrease in symptoms after her gua sha treatment. 

I promise, it is not as painful as it looks!

gua sha for colds and flu symptoms

In Chinese medicine, we also use gua sha to help alleviate cold/flu symptoms like tight neck and shoulders, chills, and a sore throat. When we experience cold/flu like symptoms, we often seek warmth and round our shoulders to protect our internal organs. The back of our body is then used to shield our precious internal organs. As a result, we need to reduce the stress our back has endured to protect us. In this particular instance, gua sha would be done to the upper neck, back, and throat to help the body clear the inflammation of the tight neck and shoulders, and the heat of the sore throat. 

It is believed in Chinese medicine that “the wind haralds 1,000 diseases.” This implies that we need to protect ourselves from the wind by covering our neck, shoulders, head and lower back with a scarf, hat and longer coats. We often turn our back to the wind to protect our front and vital organs. The back body takes the burden of the wind, which means its important to have those areas mentioned above covered appropriately and for protection. 

Read more about researched benefits of Gua sha at this Pacific College Article, The Science of Gua Sha.

gua sha for beauty

Gua sha can also be used on the face. We often use a the heart shaped tool to the right to facilitate gentle pressure and movement. 

This technique can be used to soften lines, lift and firm contour, reduce puffiness, lighten age spots, release facial tension, increase circulation, and purify the lymphatic system.

Facial gua sha may be done three to four times a week for several weeks. 

To learn more about facial rejuvenation with gua sha, take my live class on Wednesday, November 18 at 7pm ET. Click here to register.

Until next time, stay curious!

Disclaimer: This information is intended for general reference only. It is not a replacement for professional health advice. The content in this post intentionally does not provide dosage information or possible interactions with prescription drugs or other medications. Please contact a certified health practitioner such as a physician of Oriental Medicine or Herbalist before considering use. To schedule an appointment with Malerie, visit the services page.