Gua Sha, for those that haven’t heard of it before, is a form of Chinese medicine that involves the use of a sharp, straight-edged tool on the skin.
Purpose of Using Gua Sha
The use of this method for the treatment of joint pain and it can also be used to break down scar tissue on your skin.
How to Use Gua Sha
The process is also referred to as coining, spooning or scraping and the idea behind it is that the scraping of the skin will stimulate blood flow. This prevents stagnation of the blood which can lead to pain, fever, chills and various other uncomfortable sensations. There are several different ways that this can be administered depending what goals you are looking to achieve.
Back and Legs
You can get it on your legs, your back, your arms and in certain areas you can actually do the treatment to yourself.
Face and Neck
Your face would be one of these more convenient areas, as would your neck. Here’s a guide from Complete Home Spa about how you could do this yourself.
The first thing that will be done is the skin will be lubricated. It’s best to do these over, particularly bony areas, due to the firmness of the strokes. So if you’re treating the neck, the scraping should be done over the cervical spine area, while avoiding the less bony nape of your neck.
You can also do this treatment on the front of your neck, but it would be advisable to go a little bit lighter here. The goal here would be to stimulate the lymphatic system. You have a number of lymph nodes in your body and there is a high concentration of them in your neck.
There’s also quite a few of them in your face, and the lymph can get stagnant too when you spend a lot of time with your neck and head held in less than ideal positions. Stimulating the lymph nodes in your face will allow the fluid to spread and flow throughout all of the nearby lymph nodes, helping to ease your neck pain.
The most appropriate device for this area would be something that is rounded in shape and resembles a spoon. You could use a sharper edge if you wanted but this could cause some mild damage to the more sensitive areas of the face, even if you’re being careful.
Benefits of Gua Sha
Gua sha technique may also prove effective for remedying chronic neck pain. To determine the effectiveness of this therapy, 48 study participants were split into two groups. One group was given gua sha and the other used a thermal heating pad to treat neck pain. After one week, participants who received gua sha reported less pain compared to the group that didn’t receive gua sha.
One case study followed a man with high liver enzymes, an indicator of liver inflammation. He was given gua sha, and after 48 hours of treatment, he experienced a decline in liver enzymes. This leads researchers to believe that gua sha has the ability to improve liver inflammation, thus decreasing the likelihood of liver damage. More research is underway.
If your migraine headaches don’t respond to over-the-counter medications, gua sha may help. In one study, a 72-year-old woman living with chronic headaches received gua sha over a 14-day period. Her migraines improved during this time, suggesting that this ancient healing technique may be an effective remedy for headaches. More research is needed.
Breast engorgement is a condition experienced by many breastfeeding women. This is when the breasts overfill with milk. It usually occurs in the first weeks of breastfeeding or if the mother is away from the infant for any reason. Breasts become swollen and painful, making it difficult for babies to latch. This is usually a temporary condition.
In one study, women were given gua sha from the second day after giving birth up until leaving the hospital. The hospital followed up with these women in the weeks after giving birth and found that many had fewer reports of engorgement, breast fullness, and discomfort. This made it easier for them to breastfeed.
Tourette syndrome involves involuntary movements such as facial tics, throat clearing, and vocal outbursts. According to a single case study, gua sha combined with other therapies may have helped to reduce symptoms of Tourette syndrome in the study participant.
The study involved a 33-year-old male who had Tourette syndrome since the age of 9. He received acupuncture, herbs, gua sha, and modified his lifestyle. After 35 once-a-week treatments, his symptoms improved by 70 percent. Even though this man had positive results, further research is needed.
Perimenopause occurs as women move closer to menopause. Symptoms include:
One study, however, found that gua sha may reduce symptoms of perimenopause in some women.
The study examined 80 women with perimenopausal symptoms. The intervention group received 15 minute gua sha treatments once a week in conjunction with conventional therapy for eight weeks. The control group only received conventional therapy.
Upon completion of the study, the intervention group reported greater reduction of symptoms such as insomnia, anxiety, fatigue, headaches, and hot flashes compared to the control group. Researchers believe gua sha therapy might be a safe, effective remedy for this syndrome.
My Personal Opinion
I believe that sufferers of chronic neck pain could benefit greatly from this particular treatment, whether they do it to themselves or seek a professional. Many of us do experience this kind of pain. Especially these days when there are so many of us that spend a lot of time sitting in front of a computer. There are various other things that contribute to this too, but no matter what’s causing it, your chronic neck pain is almost certainly debilitating.
After the treatment, it’s best to take a bit of time to relax. I would advise not doing anything physically exerting for the rest of the day and also avoiding alcohol for about 24 hours. Anything that will stimulate your blood flow even further in a positive or negative way will throw off the effects of the treatment.
It might seem like something that you should be a little apprehensive about, but if you are careful things should run pretty smoothly. For something as painful and as affecting as chronic neck pain, you need something strong to deal with it, and Gua Sha is the perfect treatment.