What is Gua Sha?

What is GUA SHA?


Gua Sha is an important hands-on medical treatment that been used throughout Asia for centuries. Gua means “to rub” or “press stroke”. Sha is a term that describes blood congestion in the surface tissue that accumulates in areas where the patient may experience stiffness and pain; sha is also the term for the little red dots that are raised from applying Gua Sha . When Gua press stroking is applied in repeated even stokes, sha appears as small red dots called petechiae and the pain immediately shifts. In minutes the small red dots fade into blended reddishness. The sha disappears totally 2-3 days after the treatment.  The colour of sha and the rate of fading can indicate important information about a person’s condition. Pain relief lasts even after the sha is completely gone.


The benefits of Gua Sha are numerous. It resolves spams and pain and promotes normal circulation to the muscles, tissues, and organs directly beneath the area that is treated, as seen in Gua Sha’s immediate effect on coughing and wheezing. Research has shown that Gua sha raises a four-fold increase in microcirculation of surface tissue and can reduce inflammation.

The patient experiences immediate changes in stiffness and pain with increased mobility. Because Gua sha mimics sweating, it can help to resolve fever. Gua sha cools the patient who feels too warm, warms the patient who feels too cold, while relaxing tension and reducing anxiety. Acupuncturists and practitioners of traditional East Asian Medicine consider Gua sha for any illness or condition where there is pain or discomfort, for upper respiratory and digestive problems, and any condition where touch palpation indicates there is sha.  Gua sha is often done in combination with acupuncture for problems that acupuncture alone cannot address.