Some acupuncturists use an extremely effective but little known therapy called guasha to make their patients feel a lot better.

Gua Sha is a Chinese term that means, “To scrape fever away.” The ancient Chinese people have long believed sickness and disease like colds can build up on the body’s exterior where they encounter the “soldiers” of the immune system. That battle is the reason why we tend to suffer from the effects on our bodies’ exterior – when we catch a cold, we experience them as runny noses, headaches, and neck aches, etc. This is opposed to an “internal” or “interior” disease like liver cancer, which isn’t going to manifest as coughing, sneezing, and watery eyes.

According to Overland Park Traditional Chinese Medicine theory, injuries and muscle soreness are basically due to stagnation of chi and blood. “Chi” is energy. Simply put, you have lots of chi when you rise in the morning feeling great; conversely, when you can’t rise from bed in the morning and you feel weak, you don’t have enough chi in your body.

Whether or not you believe in chi, you’ve probably experienced a decrease in ache or pain from rubbing a sore muscle or an injury – this action is clearly encouraging an improvement in blood circulation, which reduces the ache or pain.

Administering guasha therapy is about using a particular guasha device such as a spoon and scraping or rubbing the instrument on the skin surface of the aching area. In the case of colds, the procedure will be applied over the patient’s shoulders, neck, and upper back. This helps reduce the soreness in those body parts as well.

Scraping Away the Pain

The “Sha” in Gua Sha pertains to the petechiae or red splotches that develop on a person’s skin after having been repeatedly rubbed with a tool or spoon over the problem area. Blood circulation is reduced anytime you incur an injury or have a spasm. Both uric and lactic acid can build up inside a highly tensed muscle or underneath the skin due to inadequate drainage brought about by weak flow of blood. Some Chinese medicine practitioners believe that the metabolic waste becomes crystalline and using a guasha tool or spoon to break these crystals can result in microscopic injury to the blood vessels. Manifestations of these waste materials escaping from the tissue become noticeable taking the appearance of sha. For an initial therapy session, the sha is actually a healthy sign as it tells that changes are occurring within the underlying fascia and muscle tissue.

Post therapy, the sha or degree of redness in the site of treatment after an injury or acute illness will be heavy. It will even look as if there is bruising to the site of treatment. However, this redness and bruising tend to diminish over time. With frequent treatment, less and less of the sha will occur with each session. This gives us an indication that something is being released and then eliminated from the treatment site which is viewed as another good sign. The sha’s reduction should be also accompanied by a meaningful diminution of symptoms.

Guasha therapy can lead to at least a couple of benefits:

1. There’s a significant decline in pain.

2. This is a therapy that does not require a qualified or experienced practitioner or using a special device for it to work.

Any person in your home, a companion or friend can use a ceramic spoon to scrape the surface of your back, neck, or upper traps. During flu or cold season, scraping of these regions is especially effective considering the connection of the pressure points which are located lie in that area.

The next time you find yourself reaching for some hot chicken soup and a box of tissues or next time you are bound up from a hard workout involving any serious pulling movements, give this treatment a shot.