Gua Sha (pronounced “gwa shaw,”) is an East Asian healing technique. Gua means to scrape or rub. Sha is a ‘reddish, elevated, millet-like/pin-point skin rash’ (aka petechiae). Sha is the term used to describe Blood stasis in the subcutaneous tissue before and after it is raised as petechiae. Gua Sha is one technique that intentionally raises Sha rash or petechiae.
Gua Sha is a technique we use in Acupuncture whenever a patient has pain that may be associated with an acute or chronic disorder.
There may be aching, tenderness and/or a knotty feeling in the muscles. Gua Sha is raised primarily at the Yang surface of the body: the back, neck, shoulders, buttocks, and limbs. On occasion, Gua Sha is applied at the chest and abdomen.
You ask how might we administer this technique? To apply Gua Sha, we would first lubricate the area with oil. Then we take a small tool called the Gua Sha tool and angle it to the skin with the smooth edge touching the skin. The skin is rubbed in downward strokes. One area is stroked until the petechiae that surface are completely raised. If there is no Blood stasis the petechiae will not form and the skin will only turn pink.
Very light colored Sha can indicate deficiency of blood. If the Sha is fresh red, it is of recent penetration. If the Sha is purple or black, the blood stasis is long-standing. If brown, the blood may be dry. Dark red Sha can indicate heat.
In most cases patients feels an immediate shift in their condition particularly if they have pain. in their pain. Gua Sha moves stuck Qi and Blood and releases the exterior mimicking sweating, and moves fluids. Gua Sha promotes circulation and normalizes metabolic processes. It is a valuable treatment for both external and internal pain, and facilitates the resolution of both acute and chronic disorders.
Gua Sha is a completely safe technique, but it is serious medicine. People who live in chronic pain often erect emotional defenses to cope with it or can feel completely hopeless. Having that pain ‘touched’ and relieved can be unsettling, even shocking. It is good to be moderate in activity after treatment, even rest. After treatment: no drugs, booze, sex, fasting, feasting or hard labor, including working out, for the rest of the day. In other words, mellow mode.