According to a new study, there is a Chinese medical technique that uses a smooth-edged tool to rub or scrape certain areas of the body that can help alleviate troublesome symptoms women experience during perimenopause, which is the years leading up to menopause.

Perimenopause may start eight to ten years prior to menopause, as the amount of estrogen in women fluctuate and begin diminishing but their menstrual periods continue. Women may suffer from insomnia, hot flashes, mood swings, tiredness, pains, forgetfulness, aches, pain during sex and vaginal dryness during this time, and for another year or more after their periods completely cease.

According to a review published in Menopause, a medical journal for women, about 75% to 92 % of women undergoing perimenopause suffer from at least some of these symptoms, and about 40 % consider them difficult enough to seek medical attention.

In Traditional Chinese Medicine, gua sha therapy is one of its most commonly used techniques. And it’s believed to work by generating an anti-inflammatory effect and increasing surface circulation.

Pei-bei Duan, co-author of the review said “in clinical practices all across China, gua sha therapy has been widely applied.”

Past research has shown it may treat or prevent a variety of frequently-occurring and common illnesses, such as colds, chronic or acute pain, flu, heatstroke, fever, emphysema, and asthma.

Researchers recruited 80 women experiencing perimenopausal symptoms for the study. The divided the women into 2 groups.

One group was given a conventional treatment that involved drinking a liquid made from Chingxin Zishen Tang, a traditional Chinese herb two times a day plus 15-minute Gua sha sessions each week in which a practitioner uses a skin lubricant and a buffalo horn scraper to stimulate acupuncture points similar to those used in acupuncture focusing on the upper limbs, lower limbs, and back for eight weeks. The second group received only conventional treatment also for eight weeks.

The scraping during treatment produced purple or red marks on the skin that usually fade within a week.

Scores on a menopause-specific quality of life questionnaire after eight weeks showed improvement for both groups, but meaningfully more for the group treated with Gua sha group and conventional care. This group also showed greater reductions in insomnia, sweating, hot flashes, melancholia, nervousness, headache, and fatigue than the conventional treatment only group.

According to Francesco Cardini. M.D, head of the Social and Health Regional Agency in Italy and who was not involved in the study, the studies available on this topic are weak and few.

Gua sha therapy like the other traditional therapies produces superficial transitory skin lesions and may not be agreeable to women who have no knowledge of Chinese medicine.

According to Duan, “Gua sha treatment for the symptoms of perimenopause was tolerated well by the people in the study,” He added, “Only a couple of mild adverse and transient events were reported and zero significant negative effects were reported. Both these effects were shown to be unrelated to Gua sha. Both the two cases experienced mild dizziness; one case was caused by extreme nervousness and the other case fell to hypoglycemia because the patient hadn’t eaten breakfast.”

It is not known what long-term benefits gua sha therapy can offer people. In principle, this therapy is accessible to all Chinese women, but only at major Spokane Traditional Chinese Medicine hospitals.

Duan said, “Women living in rural areas need to travel long and for to the major cities to get the therapy, which is difficult.” “These women should try gua sha if they access to the therapy.”

Many licensed massage therapists In the U.S, offer Gua sha therapy which has been endorsed by sports icons like Michael Jordan.