There are a couple of Chinese characters that make up the term Gua Sha: ‘Gua’ means ‘to rub’ or ‘to scrape’ and ‘Sha’, which refers to an elevated, reddish grain-like skin rash, which is also called ‘petechiae.’ Gua sha is a form of holistic Chinese medicine treatment designed to treat pain, blood stagnation, and cold conditions by advertently elevating a reddish skin rash through applied pressure using a handheld instrument and through continuous scraping movements.
The manual instrument used should have a curved surface and can come in the form of a coin, or ceramic soup spoon. Practitioners mostly utilize a polished horn of a water buffalo specifically designed for this purpose. The instrument is placed over the problematic parts of the body and skin that have been emolliated with massage oil and repeatedly scraped using strong pressure. Such pressure on the soft tissue elevates the ‘Sha,’ resulting in what seems to be a non-permanent bruising.
While this apparent bruising may at times be mistaken for a painful injury, it is actually totally painless. After two to three days, the “bruises” quickly fade and practitioners actually regard it as a very important part of the treatment. The practitioner also uses the physical appearance of the ‘Sha’ as a visual hint of the state of circulation in the part of the body where treatment has been administered. This diagnostic sign can serve as feedback prior to the commencement of treatments for conditions ranging from pain in the neck to the alleviation of sciatic pain.
The execution of gua sha therapy presupposes the practitioner’s knowledge of the way the body’s muscles move and connect with each other. A beginner can do very little with this technique without having adequate knowledge of the anatomy of the human body. But someone with a thorough understanding of human physiology and anatomy has all the required abilities needed to assess, resolve, and ameliorate bodily issues caused by stress, tension, and sickness.
Under the skilled hands of a qualified and experienced practitioner, gua sha therapy can be used to treat a wide variety of bodily ailments. And, while it is most often used the buttocks, back, neck, and shoulders it can also be used to improve immune system function and to eliminate the common cold and other such pathologies as well as toxins from the body. With gua sha therapy, sciatic pain can quickly be alleviated, with alleviation of the pain and numbness associated with the strong pressure on the sciatic nerve.
When combined with acupuncture treatment in Bellmore, the red marks related to gua sha are commonly used to suggest the existence of vital energy or chi stagnation, bodily toxins, and lack of oxygen in the body. The acupuncturist, after administering gua sha therapy, should be able to easily read the diagnostic indicators and fashion out a type of acupuncture treatment to resolve the specific problems of the patient. This ascertaining and narrowing of the problem area can be a very useful diagnostic aid that can bring about a more focused treatment when using acupuncture for the management of stress or any other illness necessitating treatment.
Gua sha can be an effective way to deal with several conditions and ailments and is widely deemed to be a safe therapeutic modality. Having said that, Gua Sha should not be used:
• On patients with weak constitutions
• Immediately following surgery
• During pregnancy
• As treatment for skin diseases, open wounds, or varicose veins
• On patients taking warfarin or other anti-coagulant drugs
• On people with bleeding disorders
Aside from answering the question, “What is Gua Sha?,” the practitioner also needs to follow certain precautions that should be taken following a Gua Sha session.
Immediately after Gua Sha treatment, the patient should drink warm water and rest for a short while. He is also advised not to take a bath or a shower for an hour at least after treatment, and that a cold shower or bath should be avoided for 24 hours, at least. Moreover, following treatment, the patient needs to keep the site of treatment always protected from windy conditions, covered up, and constantly warm.