Gua Sha translates from Chinese into “to scrape the skin until red”.Gua Sha is a medical technique used by practitioners of traditional Chinese medicine, for relieving pain on the surface of the body, skin, joints and sports injuries. It is used in hotter countries for clearing heat from the body by drawing blood to the surface called erythema. The instrument used to accomplish Gua Sha therapy is a smooth flat tool, polished slices of water buffalo horn or large coins, but in certain parts of Asia you can find “Barefoot doctors” natural practitioners using the side of a smooth metal lid, or a smooth seashell.
Gua is translated to the “scraping” stroke, along the skin, using the Gua Sha Ban (tool). Water, massage oil or some other lubricant is first applied to the skin. The neck, back, shoulders, hips/buttocks, legs and arms areas of the body where this technique is particularly effective. If you have any moles, scratches or open sores, the practitioner covers these using his/her fingers, to avoid scraping these.
Sha is translated to the red, blue or purplish marks that come to the surface during a Gua Sha treatment. This is the stagnant blood that had been trapped in the tissues, but now has been released, allowing blood and Qi to circulate more freely in those areas. The marks usually disappear within 2-3 days after the treatment.
Gua Sha tends to be really effective in treating stiff or sore muscles, and is wonderful also for releasing the heat and stagnation caused by tension, particularly in the upper back, neck and top of shoulders. It can also be used as part of a preventative health-care regimen.
Gua Sha is less well-known here, than acupuncture or herbal medicine, however it is a daily practice in China. It is a simple and effective treatment that is applied by people at home. It is easy to learn but you do need proper training to avoid self harm.
James O’Sullivan from Galway is a credible and engaging speaker, a people friendly practitioner and lecturer of Integrated Medicine, serving his patients, his students and the public with the positive benefits of both Conventional Western Medicine and Traditional Chinese Medicine. He is a respected author and has appeared on many public media.