In traditional Chinese medicine (TCM) in Jacksonville, there is a form of therapy that involves the scraping of a specific area of the body with a smooth edged tool, such as a coin or spoon, to deliberately cause a reddish elevated skin rash in order to stimulate blood flow in that area, heal illnesses, and cleanse the body of toxins. This therapy is known as Gua Sha. It is a term comprised of a couple of Chinese characters, ‘Gua,’ which means ‘to rub or ‘scrape’ and Sha, which pertains to petechiae or a ‘raised reddish, grain-like skin rash.’ Gua Sha therapy does this through applied pressure and incessant scraping motions through the use of a handheld tool.
The instrument can be a coin, thin disc, ceramic soup spoon or anything that has a curved surface. Many practitioners though, prefer using a polished horn from a water buffalo that’s specifically customized for this therapy. The scraping tool is used to repeatedly scrape with firm pressure troubled regions of the skin and body that have been previously lubricated with massage or baby oil. The pressure and the scraping causes a raised ‘Sha,’ that may appear to look like some kind of bruising.
While the Sha may seem like bruises that can be mistaken for a distressful injury, more often than not, it is completely painless. The marks are actually deemed to be part of the treatment and they completely vanish within two to three days. The ‘Sha’ or petechiae can be also used by TCM practitioners as visual cues that can give them an idea of the state of blood circulation of the patient in the site of treatment. This diagnostic clue can serve as feedback before initiating remedies for illnesses ranging from migraines to chronic low back pain.
Administration of Gua Sha therapy may require some understanding of how the muscles of our body move and connect together. If a person doesn’t have a basic understanding of the human body’s structure and anatomy, he can do very little in applying this therapy. But if the person has a firm grasp of human physiology and anatomy and is skilled in the art of healing, then he can be able to alleviate conditions caused by illness, stress, and tension.
Under the skilled hands of a qualified and experienced practitioner, Gua Sha can be a terrific healing modality for treating various physical ailments. And, while this therapy is most often used on the neck, buttocks, and back, it can also be used to expel pathologies and toxins such as the common cold and to bolster the strength of the immune system. Relief from sciatica pain can come quickly when Gua sha is the treatment of choice, alleviating the pain and numbness related to the impingement of the sciatic nerve.
As an adjunctive treatment to acupuncture, Gua Sha can be used to reveal areas where oxygen is lacking, the presence of toxins, and the stagnation of vital energy or Chi inside the body through the red marks associated with the therapy.
After a treatment session, your acupuncturist should be able to easily read the diagnostic signs and fashion out a plan of treatment to focus on the specific problems at hand. This recognition and narrowing of the site of treatment can be a very helpful diagnostic tool that allows for a more targeted treatment when using acupuncture to manage stress or for any other problems needing remedy.
Gua Sha therapy can be an option for several illnesses and ailments and is widely deemed to be a safe form of therapy.
These are the instances wherein Gua Sha should not be applied:
- On patients with weak constitutions
- On patients with bleeding disorders
- On patients currently taking warfarin and other anti-coagulant drugs
- Over skin problems, open wounds, and varicose veins
- Immediately after surgery
- During pregnancy
Besides knowing what Gua Sha is all about, the patient may also need to address some of the risks that are involved when undergoing this therapy.
The patient should drink some warm water and rest for a short following a session of Gua Sha. He should also avoid taking a bath or a shower for at least an hour after the procedure, and avoid taking a cold shower for at least 24-hours. Moreover, he may need to keep warm all the treatment sites. They should be always shielded from the wind and covered up immediately after treatment.