Gua Sha is a straightforward technique commonly used in Asia by practitioners of Traditional Chinese Medicine in both the clinical setting and in homes. Gua means to scrape or rub. Sha is a reddish, elevated "millet like" skin rash. Sha is the term used to describe blood stasis in the subcutaneous tissue before and after it is raised at petechiae. In Gua Sha, the skin is pressured, in strokes, by a round-edged instrument like a spoon. This, in Western terms, extravasates blood and metabolic waste congesting the surface tissues and muscles, promoting normal circulation and metabolic processes.
Since Gua Sha moves stuck qi and blood, the person receiving Gua Sha will probably feel immediate relief from pain, stiffness, fever, chill, cough, and nausea and experience increased range of motion. The patient may feel aching pain, tenderness and/or a knotted feeling in the affected muscles. When normal finger pressure applied on the patients skin causes blanching that is slow to fade, Sha may be suspected.
To apply Gua Sha, first lubricate the area with oil or cream. If there are any moles, cuts or unhealed areas, cover them with your fingers. Do not apply the Gua Sha tool to these kinds of areas. Hold the Gua Sha tool at a thirty degree angle to the skin, the smooth edge will touch the skin. Rub the skin in downward strokes using moderate pressure. The person should not feel pain although it might feel uncomfortable. Stroke one area at a time, until the petechia of that surface is completely raised and all the Sha is up. This is indicated when stroking no longer increases the number of dots or changes the color. Then move to the next area. The Sha petechiae should fade in about 2-4 days. If it is very slow to fade, it indicates poor blood circulation and there may be more serious deficiency that will require additional treatments with combination of acupuncture or acupressure in specific areas.
Gua Sha treatment can be used up to three times weekly, and is most effective when used as a weekly treatment on chronic conditions.
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