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Gua Sha of Chinese Medicine

Gua sha is a traditional ancient Chinese healing technique used by practitioners of traditional Chinese medicine (TCM) dating back to over two thousands years and involves firmly rubbing a person's skin with a ceramic soupspoon or large coin.

The goal is to relieve stagnation, or in other words, to clear some illness from the body via movement. For example, the skin of the upper back, neck, and chest may be rubbed. Gua sha is used commonly on respiratory illnesses.

TCM Theory

Gua sha releases the exterior Sha syndrome by moving body fluids and blood, stimulating blood flow and helping to discharge coldness and negative energy through the skin. The skin will feel warm and red marks are often seen after a Gua sha treatment. This redness or purplish hue to the skin is trapped or congealed blood that is not circulating properly in the body. Left untreated, this can create major problems in not just the muscles but also in the internal organs as well.

The muscles deeply under the superficial fascia (thin, connective tissues) and the organs deeply under the muscles are also affected. This new circulation of blood immediately relieves any pain, spasm, or tightness in the muscles, while the increased circulation of energy, blood, and fluids likewise revitalizes the organs.


Before the process, the skin is daubed with oil. Then the skin is scraped with something that has smooth edges. Coins and porcelain spoons are widely used and special scraping equipments are also available in TCM shops. The skin is always scraped in the same direction until the skin is red and purple marks appear. The intensity, speed, duration, depth of the action, and the location of scrape, all directly impact the curative effects.

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