Gua sha is similar to cupping, but instead of using suction to stimulate an area of the body, friction is applied with a rounded instrument. In Chinese, ”gua” means to rub or scrape, and “sha” is a reddish, elevated, millet-like skin rash . Gua sha intentionally raises the ‘sha’, or petechiae, so as to move stagnant Qi. “Sha” can be seen as congestion under the skin surface and in the tissue below that causes pain and stiffness.
The photo above shows different shaped gua sha tools.
When the “sha” is brought up to the surface, there is a warm feeling and the skin may develop a reddish discoloration, similar to that of cupping. As with cupping, the redness disappears over a few days. Gua sha is not painful and feels soothing to most patients.
Gua sha stimulates circulation and helps with a variety of both acute and chronic issues. Guasha can be used for acute or chronic muscular discomforts as well as treatment or prevention of the common cold, bronchitis, or asthma.