When we delve into the world of Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM), Gua Sha acupuncture – an ancient therapeutic procedure targeting stagnant blood and toxins – emerges as one of its most intriguing and increasingly popular therapies. But the fundamental question always arises: Does Gua Sha work? Here’s what you need to know.
The History of Gua Sha Acupuncture
The Chinese character for Gua Sha is the character for “cholera.” That’s because thousands of years ago, practitioners of Traditional Chinese Medicine had no blood tests, imaging, or other pharmaceuticals to rely on, and instead used observation for how the body responded to illness – paying particular attention to one’s healing response.
While these practitioners did not know they were observing the process of disease and healing of cholera as we know it today, they did notice that some individuals healed faster than others. Some never recovered. The difference? Those who got better faster had developed petechiae – areas where inflammation caused the capillaries under the skin to bleed. But it wasn’t just blood. It was also a cascade of chemicals that created a strong healing response.
Gua Sha, often associated with terms such as “scraping,” “coining,” “spooning,” or what today’s chiropractors call the Graston Technique, is an ancient therapeutic procedure that targets stagnant blood stuck in the subcutaneous fascia. This stagnation, when not addressed, can lead to pain and discomfort.
By scraping, minor trauma is created over a chronic condition, decreasing pain, congestion, and inflammation.
During a Gua Sha session, practitioners use a smooth-edged instrument to scrape the skin, leading to the appearance of temporary therapeutic petechiae – or what we call “Sha.” These round, pinpoint spots that form on the skin are not a result of injury but a deliberate release of stagnant blood, promoting better circulation in painful areas.
It’s worth noting that the back is a frequent target area in Gua Sha therapy. According to Traditional Chinese Medicine principles, the back houses numerous channels that are instrumental in initiating a cascade of healing chemical reactions. This means even conditions seemingly unrelated to the back, like digestion issues or migraines, can be effectively addressed through Gua Sha treatments in this area. Trained acupuncturists understand the intricate map of these channels, ensuring that the therapy not only targets the affected area directly but also accesses these potent channels in the back for a more holistic healing experience. For instance, someone experiencing shoulder pain might find that the most effective therapy combines Gua Sha on both the back and the affected shoulder.
Communication between practitioner and patient is paramount during Gua Sha treatment. An acupuncturist must remain in touch with patients to ensure comfort levels, allowing for adjustments in intensity if required.
The technique is also not used every week. After a few sessions, acupuncturists will have “emptied the cup,” so to speak – and a release of chronic symptoms will no longer occur.
After about three days, there is typically no petechiae left, and pain relief is usually instant – if not gone altogether. “Sha” only develops in the areas of the more intense pain. Our patients often observe the marks and say, “That’s exactly where it always hurts!”
Why Opt for Gua Sha?
Perhaps the most fascinating aspect of Gua Sha is its versatility. It’s not merely a back treatment; it’s a solution for a myriad of issues. While the back remains a primary target, given the channels present that spark a cascade of healing reactions, direct application on painful areas also proves beneficial. For instance, shoulder pain might warrant Gua Sha on the back and the shoulder.
What Can Gua Sha Treat?
Gua Sha is regularly used to address a multitude of health concerns, including:
- Shoulder, back, neck, limb, and joint pain
- Autoimmune disorders
- Bell’s Palsy
- Anxiety and depression
- Premenstrual disorders
- Surgical scar pain
- And more!
Gua Sha at Resilient Health Acupuncture
At Resilient Health Acupuncture, we’re steadfast in our commitment to offering holistic treatments, and Gua Sha stands as a testament to this. Our trained TCM providers understand the nuances of Gua Sha, ensuring you get the most out of your sessions.
So, does Gua Sha work? The growing number of individuals experiencing its benefits and the range of conditions it addresses strongly suggest its efficacy. If you’re curious, there’s only one way to truly find out. Schedule your first Gua Sha appointment with Resilient Health Acupuncture today.