Guasha is a traditional Chinese healing technique that involves using a spoon-shaped tool to scrape the skin. The purpose of guasha is to improve circulation, relieve pain, and promote healing.
During a guasha session, a practitioner applies pressure to the skin with the guasha tool, often using a lubricant like oil or lotion. The tool is then scraped over the skin in a specific pattern, usually along the meridians of the body. The scraping motion causes tiny blood vessels near the surface of the skin to rupture, resulting in red or purple marks known as petechiae.
While guasha may look painful, it is generally not considered to be a painful procedure. The sensation of the scraping is often described as a “pleasant ache” or a “tingling” sensation.
How does Guasha work?
It works in a way that is similar to dry needling and cupping. These techniques can cause local tissue congestion, which in turn promotes corresponding tissue healing. Moderate congestion is beneficial because it increases the amount of nutrients in the affected area, while also allowing blood flow to remove excess metabolic waste. When combined with the theoretical basis of traditional Chinese medicine – meridians – the treatment’s effects are deeper and boarder. For instance, when a therapist knows the direction of the pericardial meridian, they can not only relieve pain of a patient’s inner forearm, but also nourishing the pericardium by providing more nutrients, which improves insufficient myocardial blood supply in patients with coronary heart disease.
It’s important to remember that the human meridian is a large reflex network, and skillful use of this network can help the body naturally regulate itself and fight various diseases.
What is the difference between Guasha and Cupping?
Both treatment methods can promote local blood circulation and are commonly used to treat acute illnesses or chronic illnesses in strong individuals. However, if a person already has anemia or low energy (Qi), these methods are not suitable for maintenance.
But they also have their own unique features.
Cupping can use negative pressure to draw excess metabolic waste from deep tissues to the surface for elimination. For example, it can be used to treat patients with lung cancer or other lung congestion. Gua Sha cannot reach such depth. Similarly, when loosening muscles, cupping can loosen multiple layers of muscles through negative pressure, while Gua Sha can only loosen the most superficial layer of muscles.
The greatest advantage of Gua Sha is that it has moderate strength and is easier to adjust. It can also be used on small body parts, such as the face, hands, and forearms. Cupping is mostly used on the trunk.