What is it?
Gua sha, also known as scraping or spooning, is the application of pressure using a tool to scrape along an area after a lubricant has been applied to produce sha. Sha are temporary, small bruises that produce a therapeutic effect. A Chinese soup spoon or specially-made gua sha instrument (made of ceramic, bone, wood, or jade) is often used.
In Traditional Chinese Medicine theory, pain is a result of qi and blood not flowing properly through the vessels. Gua sha is used when the qi and blood are being structurally impeded – either from a blockage of qi and blood or from blood vessels (capillaries) that are no longer formed properly. Gua sha breaks up the blockages and blood vessels, allowing for restoration of the flow of qi and blood and allows new blood vessels to grow. This breakage causes the blood to leave the vessels to create sha, which is why there is some bruising after treatment; but this is also why gua sha is so effective for treating pain conditions.
Gua sha can also be used to treat organ disorders, such as asthma, fever and chills, cough, and nausea. In these cases, gua sha is generally applied to the patient’s back along the corresponding organ channels to help open the meridians and move the qi and blood.