Gua Sha literally translated means scraping disease or fever out of the body. After lubricating the skin with oil, the area to be treated is ‘scraped’ with a round-edged instrument (usually made of water buffalo horn or jade) until the blood is drawn to the surface in the form of a petechia or bruising as some people tend to call it. “Sha” is best defined as the red splotches or petechia that appear on the skin from rubbing the gua sha tool repeatedly over the affected area. The marks are usually red, although their colour can range from pink to dark purple depending on your condition and the severity of your blood stagnation. Blood flow is decreased anytime we have a spasm or injury. Both lactic and uric acid can get trapped underneath the skin or within a bound up muscle due to the lack of drainage caused by the decreased blood flow. One theory is that this metabolic waste turns crystalline and breaking these crystals with the spoon or guasha tool can lead to microscopic trauma to blood vessels. Signs of these metabolic waste products being released into the tissue become evident in the form of “Sha”. Gua Sha stimulates the movement of Qi and unblocks blood stagnation. In the process it works simultaneously on your skin, connective tissue, lymph system, muscles, blood vessels, nerves and brain. This in turn affects other systems and organs – in other words, your entire body.
- cleanses the body of toxins.
- improves circulation and rebalances emotions.
- helps in treating back pain, neck pain and other musculo-skeletal problems.
- increase Qi or energy in the body which in turn helps to oxidize your cells as well as to nourish them.
Although the Gua Sha rash/bruising may look quite bad, it’s not really painful, however it can be uncomfortable. This bruising and redness will decrease over time. Repeated treatments will decrease the sha or petechia with each session. Gua Sha will not be administered where there is deep vein thrombosis, skin ulcers, arteries, or where a pulse can be felt nor on sacral regions of pregnant women.
Please inform your practitioner if you have pace-makers, thrombocytopenia, haemophilia, pregnancy, anaemia, active tuberculosis, are menstruating or bleeding out of menstruation due dismenorrehea, have had vomitting or diarrhoea the previous three days, are fatigued due to strenuous work or stress.
Cancer patients will only receive cupping therapy only if recommeded by their physician who knows the patient’s history. In general, if you suffer from a debilitating disease that needs immediate attention, do not subject yourself to any alternative treatment forms, including cupping, as the sole form of treatment.