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What the Heck is Gua Sha?

Posted Jan 10 2012 1:04pm

I would like to introduce you to a term that many people have never heard of Gua Sha.

What is Gua Sha (pronounced Gua sa)? Well Arya Neilson the premier practitioner of Gua Sha in the U.S. explains it thusly
Gua Sha is an East Asian healing technique. Gua means to scrape or rub. Sha is a 'reddish, elevated, millet-like skin rash' (aka petechiae). Sha is the term used to describe Blood stasis in the subcutaneous tissue before and after it is raised as petechiae. Gua Sha is one technique that intentionally raises Sha rash or petechiae. In Vietnam the technique is called Cao Yio, in Indonesia: Kerik, in Laos: Khoud Lam.

She goes on to say
Gua Sha is used whenever a patient has pain whether associated with an acute or chronic disorder. There may be aching, tenderness and/or a knotty feeling in the muscles. Palpation reveals Sha when normal finger pressure on a patient's skin causes blanching that is slow to fade. In addition to resolving musculo skeletal pain, Gua Sha is used to treat as well as prevent common cold, flu, bronchitis, asthma, as well as any chronic disorder involving pain, congestion of Qi and Blood.

All this and more can be found on her website at: http://www.guasha.com

I have personally used Gua Sha on patients who have had stubborn coughs or tight muscles that have not responded to other modalities for one reason or another. My patients are usually flabbergasted at how fast they see results.

I do warn my patients that Gua Sha should not be done if they are planning to go to the beach in the days following treatment, and that they should forewarn their special someone before showing them what the area that was worked on looks like. Although it does not hurt to get Gua Sha (it can be uncomfortable) or to touch the treated area afterwards, it can look quite shocking.

I have also used this technique quite successfully on children. They are usually more amenable to this technique and it can and has produced dramatic and positive results.

Recently, I was talking to a member of my BNI group (http://www.bnibethesda.com), who happens to hail from China. Well she got so excited to find someone who knows what Gua Sha is that we talked about it for 15 minutes or so. She then called over her husband, who is not from China, and told him excitedly what we were just talking about. It made her happy and I think, connected to China on some level.

It is feeling that my practice is unique in this way. I am able to and do incorporate different modalities into my treatments. I feel this greatly enhances the treatments that I offer my patients. I customize each treatment for my patients each time they visit with me.
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