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Everything You Need To Know About Gua Sha (刮痧)

Gua Sha is a kind of Traditional Chinese Medicine that has a long-standing and effective health care method that is suitable to treat physical discomfort. The term 刮痧 when translated to English means scraping away illness wherein ‘gua’ means scrape while ‘sha’ means redness of the skin or illness. Doing gua sha aims to exert curative effects on the body and energy level at the same time. It has an immediate effect, which is used clinically in patients with stiff shoulders and necks, backaches, fever, acute pharyngitis, and heatstroke. Most of them will feel a lot better after treatment. Aside from treating physical discomfort, experts also point out  that the benefits of Gua Sha are far more than just conditioning the body. It can also help your immune system, digestive system, internal organs as well as achieving health preservation and blood flow circulation.  

According to experts, before using the gua sha, the tool must first be disinfected. The scraping time is generally from 3 to 5 minutes for each part, and the longest should not be more than 20 minutes. After scraping, the skin will have small blood spots or purple and black bruises. Generally speaking, its color depth reflects the degree of physical condition to some extent. Those with milder illnesses have relatively few redness, and the color is lighter, and the red scars fade faster; while those with more serious illnesses have relatively more redness, or have darker bruises may take longer to fade. It is normal to feel pain when scraping as this means Qi and blood are not running smoothly. The darker, redder, or purple color of redness, means that the symptoms are more serious. Generally, the scraping should be stopped when the skin is flushed. One to two days after the outbreak of redness, the skin may still be mildly painful and itchy. These reactions are normal. It is advisable that after scraping, people should avoid drinking cold drinks or shower immediately, and should rest for a while and drink warm water.

For some people who do not show any redness of skin or who have little redness shouldn’t be forced to scrap until the redness comes up as forceful or inappropriate control of the scraping will cause capillary rupture, or other negative effects like skin infections.

Under normal circumstances, it takes about 2 to 3 days to retreat, or up to 10 days. However, Gua Sha should not be used so frequently. The frequency of scraping is generally 3 to 5 days after the first scraping. In addition to that, it is recommended to scrape Gua Sha at most once a week to allow time for local tissue repair. If Gua Sha is repeatedly scraped within two to three days, muscle inflammation and fibrosis may occur in the long term. 

However, not everyone is suitable to use Gua Sha. People who have frequent bleeding tendency or coagulation disorder; body parts with lumps or severe varicose veins; women who are pregnant are not suitable. It is also unadvisable to scrape Gua Sha half an hour after a meal.

In choosing the best tools for Gua Sha, medical experts say that the choice is mainly based on the material, because the material of the scraping board or tool affects the color and shape of the redness. Different materials of the scraping tool  have different treatment and conditioning results for different discomforts. The commonly seen Gua Sha tools in the market are made of horns, metal, jade, bian stone etc., and come in different shapes. It is advisable that the scraping tool  must have smooth edges to avoid damage to the skin during the scraping process and that the weight of the tool is  comfortable enough to hold properly. In this way, when we exert effort while scraping, this prevents our hands from straining. 

Photos credits to respective owners and 健康遠見 – 對身體好 website

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