As the wheel of time turns, traditional practices are witnessing a resurgence. Gua Sha, an ancient Chinese healing technique, has been gaining popularity in recent years as a holistic approach to wellness and beauty, as it offers a myriad of benefits for modern wellness seekers.
Read on as we examine the many benefits of Gua Sha and answer some of the famous questions, such as “What is Gua Sha used for?” “Is Gua Sha safe?” “Does Gua Sha help with wrinkles?” and many more.
What Is Gua Sha?
Gua Sha is an ancient practice that dates back to the Ming Dynasty (1368 to 1644). It involves gently scraping the skin to “scrape away illness.” The practice has gained popularity in the West due to its potential health benefits, which are becoming more evident. Gua Sha is performed using a smooth-edged tool to gently scrape areas of the body, resulting in the appearance of petechiae (red spots). According to Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM), stimulating petechiae in specific points of the body can encourage a healthy flow of energy (Qi) and blood.
Gua Sha uses a smooth tool with rounded edges, which can be a stone or a spoon, to perform the techniques. Jade, rose quartz, bian, or amethyst stones are the most common materials.
What is it used for?
Originally, Gua Sha was used on the body, like arms, legs, and back; however, nowadays, it’s commonly used to improve the facial appearance. It’s also used to relieve muscle and joint pain from conditions like back pain, carpal tunnel syndrome, and tendon strain. Furthermore, it may also be used for reducing inflammation and improving the immune system.
According to TCM, Gua Sha can be used to:
— Relieve chronic pain
— Promote lymphatic drainage
— Stimulate blood circulation
What Are the Benefits of Gua Sha?
Gua Sha is believed to have several benefits. Follow our list below and learn more about what Gua Sha does to the body.
Promotes blood circulation
One of the main benefits of Gua Sha treatment is increased blood circulation. A study on the microcirculatory effects of Gua Sha on the skin demonstrated that it could improve blood circulation in the small blood vessels in the treated area. Whereas, according to TCM beliefs, the scraping of the skin along the meridians sends signals that the area needs more circulation.
Can improve fine lines, wrinkles, and cellulite
One of the exciting benefits of Gua Sha is helping the body to produce collagen, which leads to a brighter complexion and softens fine lines and wrinkles. And while it can’t remove cellulite altogether, it can improve the appearance of cellulite significantly and reduce dimples and lumps.
Promotes lymphatic drainage
Factors such as aging, hormonal imbalances, blood pressure issues, and skin conditions can all restrict lymphatic flow. However, the consistent movements of the Gua Sha can help eliminate the fluid (lymph) buildup in the skin and help transfer it to the body. Lymphatic drainage can also have a cosmetic benefit as it reduces puffiness in the face and makes it seem more contoured.
Helps acne scarring
Furthermore, Gua Sha massage can help diminish acne scars, as enhanced blood circulation helps the skin cells get the nutrition they need and renew underlying skin cells. We suggest using your Gua Sha stone on a vitamin C serum for even better results.
Sculpts facial muscles
Another aesthetic benefit of facial Gua Sha is the temporary appearance of a more sculpted face by helping release tight facial muscles through massages on the jawline and cheekbone area.
Relieves tension from muscles
Gua Sha can also relieve tension from muscles, as applying pressure with the Gua Sha tool regularly can help release muscle knots and built-up muscle tension.
Helps relieve chronic pain
Gua Sha can also help relieve chronic neck and low back pain. A study on the effectiveness of Gua Sha therapy in patients with chronic neck pain shows that Gua Sha can have short-term positive effects on pain and functional status in patients. Furthermore, results from a randomized controlled trial show that patients receiving Gua Sha treatment for chronic low back pain reported lower pain intensity and better overall health status compared to those on the waitlist group.
May speed recovery
Another advantage to using Gua Sha can be the promotion of faster muscle recovery. A study involving 44 men receiving Gua Sha showed that those who received Gua Sha treatments reported less perceived effort in completing the snatch and clean and jerk exercise. As the men weren’t limited by fatigue from part training sessions, Gua Sha might have helped promote faster muscle recovery. The study concludes that Gua Sha could be a viable alternative to some traditional sports recovery methods.
Relieves tension headaches and migraines
While more research is needed, a single case study involving a 72-year-old woman suffering from headaches saw great improvement over a 14-day period, thus indicating that Gua Sha may relieve tension headaches and migraines.
Enhances the immune system
Gua Sha can also be helpful in boosting the immune system by promoting lymphatic drainage, as the lymph contains white cells, which are at the front in fighting infections and illnesses. Additionally, Gua Sha can aid in eliminating toxins from the body.
Reduces insomnia and fatigue
Insomnia is a common sleep disorder that can be caused by stress, caffeine consumption, mental health disorders, and chronic pain, among other factors. The use of Gua Sha can help alleviate tension in the neck and shoulders, triggering the parasympathetic nervous system’s response that promotes relaxation and better sleep. Moreover, Gua Sha can relieve muscle tension, which helps fight fatigue.
Helps with anxiety
Gua Sha massages can have a grounding and calming effect, making Gua Sha beneficial for those struggling with anxiety. Furthermore, it’s a safe, drug-free, and non-toxic form of self-care to become present and self-soothe.
Helps with engorged breasts
Breast engorgement is a common problem that can happen during breastfeeding initiation and duration, where the breasts are overfilled with milk and cause discomfort. A randomized controlled trial on the effects of Gua Sha therapy on breast engorgement shows that Gua Sha can be effective in treating it. In another study, women suffering from breast fullness were given Gua Sha from the second day after giving birth until leaving the hospital. After a few weeks, these women reported a reduction in engorgement, breast fullness, and discomfort.
May help with hepatitis B symptoms
Further research is required, but a case study involving a 20-year-old male with chronic hepatitis B carrier showed promising results with Gua Sha treatment. The patient had high liver enzyme levels, indicating the immune-active phase of hepatitis B infection. After two days of treatment, the liver enzyme levels decreased, suggesting a reduction in the inflammatory process and potential relief of hepatitis B symptoms.
May help with Tourette symptoms
According to a single case study involving a 33-year-old male who had Tourette syndrome since the age of nine, Gua Sha may help with Tourette symptoms. After undergoing 35 weekly treatments that included Gua Sha, acupuncture, and lifestyle changes, he experienced a 70% improvement in his symptoms.
May help with perimenopause symptoms
As women move closer to menopause, they can experience perimenopause symptoms like insomnia, anxiety, hot flashes, fatigue, headaches, and irregular periods. A study on the effect of Gua Sha therapy on perimenopausal syndrome suggests that Gua Sha could be a reliable and secure solution for this condition since these symptoms can be quite distressing.
May help improve Diabetic Neuropathy
Based on a randomized controlled trial conducted on patients with diabetic peripheral neuropathy, it has been demonstrated that Gua Sha therapy can be a safe, effective, and well-tolerated form of treatment. The results also suggest that it can potentially manage and improve symptoms, sensory function, glucose levels, and peripheral artery disease.
May soothe autoimmune diseases
Although research on the topic is limited, Gua Sha can be life-changing for patients with autoimmune diseases as it helps manage symptoms by reducing inflammation and enhancing blood circulation.
Who Should Avoid Gua Sha?
Although there’s research regarding the benefits of Gua Sha for treating different conditions, more research is needed to clarify where there are substantial benefits. Therefore, we recommend discussing your medical history with your healthcare provider to determine if this practice would be helpful for your condition.
And while Gua Sha is a safe treatment, it may not be safe for people who:
— Take blood thinners
— Have blood clotting disorders or circulatory problems
— Have very thin skin, like children and elderly
— Have gone through surgery recently
— Have active bacterial or viral infection in the treatment area
— Have a skin type prone to scarring or hyperpigmentation
— Have chronic skin conditions like rosacea, eczema, psoriasis
— Are pregnant
Beyond its superficial reputation as a skincare tool, Gua Sha offers a treasure trove of advantages that extend to physical and emotional well-being. From enhancing blood circulation and lymphatic drainage to reducing muscle tension and promoting relaxation, the therapeutic effects of Gua Sha are both profound and multifaceted. Additionally, it can be a meditative element in your self-care routine.