Gua Sha is 5000 years old!
Chinese people have been refining and improving this ancient treatment for 5000 years!
It was discovered by a woman having a bath. She rubbed herself with a rock from the river she was bathing in. She realised that where she had rubbed herself felt relaxed and with good blood circulation. After that when people had a headache or a sore body or a fever they would use a ceramic spoon to scrape where the pain was until the skin was red with a rash (sha) and the pain would be gone.
Gua Sha comes from gua: scrape and sha: red rash on skin.
The sha is caused by the scraping making poisons in the body come out through the skin.
When Chinese traders went around the world and felt ill they would use gua sha and the people in the countries they visited saw that it was working: people talked about it and so the practice spread.
The advantage of Chinese gua sha was that it was easy and effective and could be done every day because it would just be done on a specific part of the body. Anyone could do it: young, old, male or female. There were no risks and no side effects. Gua sha was accepted by many cultures, especially in Asia: Thailand; Laos; Burma; Cambodia; India; Indonesia and Brunei. In Vietnam every family can do gua sha if someone has a headache, stomach ache, back pain or non-infectious fever before any other treatment. In Malaysia there is a gua sha school.
Why does scraping the skin make the sickness and pain go away?
Many people have been sceptical that gua sha can successfully treat pain and sickness. The theory of gua sha is that it helps balance the four elements in the body: earth, air, fire and water. It stimulates blood and qi circulation. Moreover, gua sha differs from other treatments in one important way: it can detoxify the body through the skin. The implement used for scraping has to be of a yin material, e.g. ceramic, bone, horn or rock.
Gua sha helps balance the four elements.
Eastern people believe that the human body is made of earth, air, fire and water and each element has to be in balance. If one element is in excess it will cause illness, for example, a twisted ankle will swell and have a ductile feel because of an excess of air stuck in the damaged area. Scraping will help the air to come out and be replaced by fire, meaning an improvement in blood circulation and the swelling will go down and the pain will go away.
Normally, when the body wishes to wash out toxins, it makes more water to flush it out. For example, if somebody is intolerant to milk, their body will make more water to get rid of it. Or if somebody breathes in dust their nose will become runny to wash it out. When there is an excess of water in part of the body, that part will be cold. When we scrape around the nose we make fire, meaning we improve blood circulation and we can breathe better.
Gua Sha stimulates blood and Qi circulation.
As well as balancing the four elements, gua sha can help to clean the arteries. Scraping can help to shift a blockage in an artery, thus improving blood circulation. Scraping also helps muscles, ligaments and nerves too. After gua sha, tight muscles around nerves will loosen and will stop constricting the nerve. Gua sha also helps with knotted muscles. Continuing treatments with gua sha will gradually reduce pain and increase relaxation levels.
The most important difference between gua sha and other treatments is that gua sha can scrape away poisons in the body. This poison arises because of an unhealthy lifestyle (Like drinking too much alcohol, smoking, eating unhealthy food, drinking unclean water, stress, pollution etc.) When this poison enters our body it circulates in our blood. The red blood cells that carry oxygen and nutrition to our cells and tissues will therefore carry these poisons into the cells and tissues. Usually our bodies get rid of these poisons through bowel motions, urination and perspiration. Old red blood cells carrying poison are removed by the spleen but some of the poison remains in cells, tissues, skin and organs. If these poisons build up in the body they will cause sickness. Gua sha can help the poison come out of the skin through the same pores as perspiration. The body will then recover and become healthy again.
The secret of the red rash
What is the sha or ‘red rash’ that appears on the skin? Is it a real poison?
Our bone marrow is like a red blood cell factory. The life of a red blood cell is 120 days. At the end of its life a red blood cell will be removed by the spleen.
When something unusual happens to our body, for example we carry an unusually heavy bag, it affects our blood circulation because the blood vessel get squeezed, and as a result, some dead red blood cells can’t get to the spleen and end up inside the skin.
Dead red blood cells are like food past its sell-by date and are poisonous to our bodies. If they build up in the body we get sick. Gua sha forces them to be perspired out of the pores of the skin and they then evaporate away. The red sha goes away within 3-5 days.
For healthy people, sha will be a pinky-red colour. If the blood is acidic because of too much poison in the body, the sha will be dark red or purple. Without treatment, blood will become more acidic, and sha will be black.
You don’t have to be ill to use gua sha.
Gua sha is good both in sickness and in health because:
- it stimulates your metabolism
- it improves your blood circulation
- it stimulates your cell activity, increases oxygen transport to cells and forces poisons in your body to come out through the skin pores
- it supports the immune system
- it helps to diagnose disease
- it helps to relax the muscles and ligaments
- it slows the aging of the cells and keeps skin firm
Guidelines for before using whole body gua sha
- You should not be hungry before gua sha
- You should tell the practitioner to avoid any parts of your body that are injured or where you have had surgery.
o Polly Mitrakul B.Med 27/09/2012