Gua Sha

“Gua” means scraping or rubbing, which is the technique of this treatment. In a broad sense, this type of therapy includes “Gua Sha,” “Che Sha,” “Fang Sha,” “Cui Sha,” and “Pai Sha.” “Sha,” also called “Sha Xiang,” refers to the physiological and pathological reactions of the skin of these parts after the aforementioned methods are used on the skin of the human body, mostly in the forms of skin texture and color changes. Common Sha Xiang includes the flushes, purplish red or black bruises, or dotted purplish red rashes that appear on the scraped part of the skin, often accompanied by varying degrees of heat. These skin changes will last for a day or longer.

The zang-fu organs, nutrient-defense, meridians, and acupoints of the human body are integrated into one, forming the reaction pathways from the inside of the body to the outside and the outside, inside. The zang-fu organs are principal parts of the body (the foundation of life activities), and the nutrient-defense, qi and blood generated by these organs are the basic substances that maintain and nourish human life. Nutrient-defense, qi, and blood act on the acupoints with the meridians serving as their channels. Acupoints are areas where the qi of the zang-fu organs and meridians is infused on the surface of the body.

The mechanism of Gua Sha is based on this very relationship among the zang-fu organs, nutrient-defense, meridians, and acupoints of the human body, and the reaction pathways they form for the inside-outside exchanges. Gua sha utilizes certain tools to scrape the skin to act on certain acupoints, which will create certain stimulations that help clear the meridians, regulate the nutrient defense, and harmonize the zang-fu organs. When these tasks are completed, human life activities will function properly, making the body healthy. Nutrient defense is the qi and blood of the meridians and collaterals. Food and liquids enter the stomach and enable the generation of qi and blood, with the nutrient being in the vessels and defense outside the vessels. The mild and pure essence of the nutrient stays in the vessels and flows with blood, and it is an important component for blood generation, having the function of nourishing the whole body, therefore named nutrient qi.

1) Activating Blood and Resolving Stasis

Human muscles, ligaments, and bones, once injured, will have static blood in the injured area. Such congestion will obstruct the flow of qi and blood through the meridians and cause pain, which never goes away until the static blood is resolved. Most of the common scraping sites in clinical practice are mostly where qi and blood converge. The reflex action of benign stimulations on the scraped areas could boost the blood circulation, increase the blood flow, resolve the static blood, generate new blood, and clear the meridians to help qi and blood run smoothly, which in turn relieves the pain. Meanwhile, it could also promote the activation of organ and tissue functions, so that the body’s own disease resistance can be restored and pathogens eliminated.

2) Dredging Channels and Activating Collaterals

Chinese medicine believes that the zang-fu organs, nutrient-defense, meridians (and collaterals), and acupoints are organically combined. Gua sha utilizes certain tools to scrape the skin to act on certain acupoints, which will create certain stimulations that help clear the meridians. Once the zang-fu organs are in harmony and the nutrient-defense runs properly, human life activities will function properly and be free from diseases.

3) Inducing Sweating to Release Exterior

Scraping makes the skin congested and expands the capillaries, which will dispel the pathogens or pathogenic qi in the body surface, meridians, acupoints, deep tissues, and even organs that cause rheumatism, phlegm-dampness, static blood, fire-heat, sepsis, etc. in the form of sweat so that one can selfheal.

4) Clearing Heat and Removing Toxin

Gua sha not only accelerates the evacuation of wastes and toxins from the body but also enables the alternation between new and old blood in congested areas. The local blood running smoothly could relieve its local pressure, therefore eliminating local redness, swelling, heat, and pain, and further achieving the goal of clearing heat and detoxifying.

5) Warming Meridians and Dissipating Cold

The stimulation of Gua Sha produces a local thermal effect, and the blood circulates when warmed. That the blood runs faster could help improve local metabolism. The stimulations of gua sha will be conducted to corresponding organs through skin receptors and meridians. The excitation process of the conduction will eventually discharge cold pathogens from the body.

1) It is simple and cheap. The implementation of Gua Sha only requires a small scraping tool and a certain amount of lubricant. The tools and assisting materials are all very simple, and you can even make do with whatever you find suitable or make them yourself.

2) It is effective and safe. Gua sha is not only suitable for Sha syndrome, but also for a variety of acute and chronic conditions (for example acute lumbar sprain, chronic bronchitis, etc.). It not only can control the condition of certain diseases and eliminate their symptoms but also can have a good curative effect on certain diseases and have the patient get well. Moreover, Gua Sha is an external therapy, that is, the site of the application is the surface of the body, so the local reactions and changes in the condition can be observed at any time by the practitioner.

Lubricants, lotions, blood-activating agents, pain relief creams, and so on can all be used as assisting materials for Gua Sha. The purposes of applying such materials are to smooth and moisturize the skin and to play a therapeutic role at the same time. Commonly used assisting materials in current times are as follows:

1) Gua Sha cream: whose main ingredients are Chinese Angelica, Sichuan Lovage Rhizome, Safflower, OP lubricant, distilled water, etc. It has the effect of activating blood, resolving stasis, and relieving the pain of dysmenorrheal.

2) Gua Sha oil: whose main ingredients are Arnebia Root, Sichuan Lovage Rhizome, Chinese Angelica, Safflower, Salvia Root, Musk, Incised Notopterygium Rhizome and Root, Dragon’s Blood, Fresh Ginger, Mint, Camphor, etc. It can dispel wind, dredge meridians, activate blood, and relieve pain.

3) Therapeutic Gua Sha lubricant: whose main ingredients include Milkvetch Root, Salvia Root, Peach Seed, Safflower, White Atractylodes Rhizome, Chinese Angelica, Rhubarb, Chinese Clematis Root, Sappan Wood, Niuteng, a moderate amount of peanut oil, etc. It can accelerate and increase the blood flow in painful areas, promote the absorption of the medicine, and speed up the recovery process.

4) Arnebia Root oil: whose main ingredients are Sesame Oil, Arnebia Root, Borneol, Mentholum, vitamin E, etc. it can cool blood, detoxify, and resolve rashes.

5) Guyouling Chaji: whose main ingredients are Suberect Spatholobus Stem, Safflower, Common Monkshood Mother Root, Chinese Clematis Root, Divaricate Saposhnikovia Root, Snake Slough, Yanhusuo, Fleeceflower Root, Himalayan Teasel Root, Borneol, Camphor, chencu (vinegar), Mentholum, Dongqing You (Oil of Wintergreen), Dianqieliujin Gao (Belladonna liquid extract), etc. It can activate blood, resolve stasis, reduce swelling, and relieve pain.

6) Zhenghonghua You: whose main ingredients are Methyl salicylate, Guiye You (Bay Leaves Oil), Cinnamon Oil, Xiangmao You (Lemongrass Herb Oil), Songjie You (Oleum Terebinthinate), Chili Oil, Dragon’s Blood, etc. It can activate blood, resolve stasis, dredge meridians, and relieve pain.

7) Voltaren: an analgesic and anti-inflammatory gel commonly used in clinical practices that contain Diclofenac Diethylamine. It can be used alone in the clinic to treat sports injuries or as a lubricant.

8) Guasha huoxie Ji: whose main ingredients are Chinese Angelica, Sichuan Lovage Rhizome, Red Peony Root, Safflower, Peach Seed, Frankincense, Sappan Wood, Sanqi Powder, Borneol, etc. It is suitable for pain relief.

It not only can treat internal, surgical, orthopedic, gynecological, pediatric, and ENT diseases, but also be suitable for beauty, health care, and preservation.

All types of acute infectious diseases, acute high fever, acute osteomyelitis, tuberculous arthritis, acute abdominal pain, infectious skin diseases, water and fire burns, various skin ulcers, muscle lumps, tuberculosis, etc. To avoid menstrual disorders, miscarriage and premature birth, menstruating or pregnant women should be cautious and aware that many parts of the body shouldn’t be scraped without consideration. Patients with long illness and weakness, and those with cardiovascular diseases should also be cautious.

Sha of different colors and shapes may appear in the treated area(s). There could be red, dark red, purple, or blueish-black Sha on the skin surface. The form of Sha could be scattered, dense, or plaque-like. Blister-like Sha may appear on the skin surface of people with severe dampness. Sha below the skin are mostly lumps or nodules of different sizes. There will be a clear feeling of heat on the skin where Sha appears. Deep Sha could appear on the surface of the skin as blue-purple. After about 12 hours, the skin surface of mass-like Sha will gradually turn blue purple or blue-black. In 24 to 48 hours after Gua Sha, there will be pain when touching places of skin where Sha occurred, and the skin could even feel moderately hot if the Sha looks severe. People with a weak constitution could experience fatigue for a short while, and even have a low fever within 24 hours, which will resolve after having some rest. Sha occurs more when there is blood stasis, and less if there is a deficiency; Sha happens more easily when there is excess or heat syndrome than deficiency or cold syndrome; those who often take medicine, especially hormone drugs, will not have Sha easily.