What is gua sha? What are the benefits of gua sha? Should you consider having gua sha therapy to address a health issue you have?
I can help by explaining what gua sha is. The health benefits of this form of alternative therapy, and what to expect from a treatment – so please read on!
What Is Gua Sha?
Gua sha is a form of alternative therapy that’s been used for thousands of years in China and across the eastern world but isn’t that popular or well known across the western world.
The words gua sha translate loosely to mean ‘scrape away fever.’ This form of therapy uses massage techniques and a scraping tool to scrape at the skin as the name suggests, although it’s not as painful as scraping makes it sound so don’t worry.
In China, therapists use gua sha to treat a wide range of health conditions as I will explain in more detail later.
There are many of the same benefits as you would expect from a massage. Using the scraping tool allows for some extra targeted pressure to the areas being treated, however.
This brings new blood flow and circulation to the areas being worked on. Which triggers the production of other chemicals in the body, as well as stimulating lymph production to clear toxins trapped in the tissues.
Gua sha is also designed to increase the flow of chi around your body. This is an important aspect of Chinese medicine, the Chinese believe by creating a positive flow of chi you can resolve a wide range of health issues.
Gua Sha Face Tool
This is a good quality gua sha scraping tool. It’s made of 100% jade stone which is the mineral used by traditional gua sha practitioners.
It’s a little thicker than traditional scrapers, but this along with the grooves makes it really comfortable to hold in one hand.
It’s about 3 inches long and 2 inches wide. So it’s easily small enough to keep in a bag or on your person, so you can give yourself a gua sha facial if you have a few minutes spare!
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What Are the Benefits of Gua Sha?
While results will of course vary from person to person, gua sha is recommended for the following conditions to name the most common:
Treats Migraines and Headaches
A lot of people, myself included, don’t like taking over-the-counter meds for headaches. I much prefer a massage like an Indian head massage.
Gua sha is also great for relieving headaches and migraines. Regular treatments can help reduce the regularity and strength of headaches.
Reduces Signs of Aging
Gua sha facials use sweeping techniques designed to stimulate blood flow and the removal of toxins that can cause skin problems and puffiness.
As well as helping to reduce the appearance of wrinkles, bags under and around the eyes, and improve the feel and appearance of your skin.
Lessens Symptoms of Allergies
As someone who suffers from sinusitis, I know how frustrating allergies are. I’ve found various forms of massage to work wonders for my symptoms, and so have others.
Gua sha can help reduce the symptoms of asthma, skin allergies, breathing difficulties, and so on by strengthening your immune system and reducing the toxins being retained in your body.
Reduces Pains and Stiffness
Gua sha is very effective at reducing inflammation, aches, and pains. If you suffer from arthritis, fibromyalgia, or other conditions that cause chronic pain it’s worth taking a closer look at this form of therapy.
Be sure to discuss your condition with your therapist beforehand. You should have a consultation if it’s your first session anyway which helps the therapist tailor their treatment to you.
Boosts Immune System
Don’t underestimate what boosing you immune system through gua sha can do for you, you might leave the table feeling a million times better.
Well, it generally takes a day or two to feel the effects, but you get what I mean. A stronger immune system means less cold and virus issues, more natural energy, and so on.
Reduces Neck and Back Pain
Neck and back pain is all too common, and ignoring it or taking painkillers to mask the pain is the worst thing you can do.
There are various types of massage therapy that target neck and back pain, and gua sha is one of the treatments I recommend.
There was an interesting study (source) carried out at the University of Duisburg-Essen in Germany.
They took 48 patients suffering from neck pain and divided them into two groups. One group received gua sha therapy, and the other used traditional methods.
This group undergoing gua sha therapy experienced a greater reduction in pain and more mobility in their neck than the other group.
What Is a Gua Sha Facial?
A gua sha facial uses the same gua sha tools and similar techniques to the body massage, but it’s a lot more gentle (and therapeutic in my opinion).
The facial is designed to stimulate lymph activity and circulation around your face. By sweeping the tool in the correct directions you can encourage lymphatic fluid to flow through the correct channels and flush toxins from your body.
This helps reduce puffiness, bags under the eyes, the appearance of wrinkles, and so on. It’s an incredibly invigorating experience and one I recommend for anyone who enjoys facials.
Does Gua Sha Hurt?
You may have seen someone who has a gua sha treatment showing off their pink or red scraping marks (similar to the marks left by cupping) and wondered how painful it is.
It’s not actually painful at all. Or at least it shouldn’t be. Some people do find it a little uncomfortable, but no more so than a regular tissue massage.
My advice is to make sure you drink plenty of water before and after the treatment. Keeping hydrated helps your body recover quicker and your skin will not be as tender.
Be careful not to shower, touch, or allow clothes to rub on the area for at least the rest of the day too if it’s possible.
How Long Does Gua Sha Bruising Last?
Bruising and reddening of the skin from gua sha typically lasts 2-3 days if you take care to look after the area that was treated as described above.
After 4-5 days if the bruising has not all but gone and you don’t suffer from any conditions that would cause the bruising to last you should consult your therapist.
How Often Can You Do Gua Sha
I recommend speaking with your therapist about how often you can have treatments. They will need to access you as an individual, and probably see how long it takes for you to recover from a session first.
Typically you will not have more than one session a week however as it takes a few days for your body to fully recover from a session.
I’m a MA, (CMT) Certified Massage Therapist, Licensed Massage Therapist (LMT), and Reiki Master — I’m a licensed massage therapist with over 10 years of experience in the industry.