These days, traditional forms of treatments seem to be an effective cure for health, beauty, and facials. Apart from their obvious simplicity, they have been around for a while and they come with multifaceted uses. Gua sha which has an incredible and rich history originated from Chinese mothers who used it as a home remedy for their sick children. It existed before acupuncture, created from Bian Stone, it was used for heat therapy.
Ancient Chinese medicine believes that chi is the energy that flows through the body and it must be balanced without blocked pathways for smooth health and overall well-being. Most traditional Chinese practitioners are of the belief that a blocked chi can produce inflammation and several serious pain conditions. They think that the most effective way of combating it is by rubbing the surface of the skin. An act that breaks up the energy from the chi and allows it to circulate in the body, promoting wellness. It is known as gua sha.
What is gua sha?
Gua sha is an ancient unique healing technique that is performed by scraping your skin with a massage tool to increase the circulation of energy. This form of treatment works for chronic pain conditions. It was originally a body treatment used by Chinese practitioners, but it has now been adapted for facial treatments. It is a relaxing scraping motion that encourages lymphatic drainage and gets rid of swelling caused by trapped fluids under your skin.
In Chinese, Gua means to ‘scrape’ and sha means petechiae which are tiny, flat red, purple spots. It revitalizes your blood flow by activating key points in your body and stimulating your blood cells. It can be used to treat severe heat strokes, abdominal issues, dizziness, and pain. Practitioners and cosmeticians also use gua sha massage to relieve tension in the muscles, break down tight muscles, and release the pressure around key joints of the body to improve circulation.
In guasha, a smooth-edge instrument is scraped along your skin in rhythmic strokes to increase your blood flow and stimulate your blood tissues. This tool is known as guasha stone and it is used on your arms, legs, neck, buttocks, and back. The gua sha facial tool is used on the face in a milder version as a facial technique involving face massage with the gua sha oil, improving your overall appearance and creating a toned, smooth skin. Recently, more beauty brands are now focused on the top benefits of Gua sha and the Jade gua sha which is where the tools are fashioned from.
How do you use it?
Gua sha tools come in so many different shapes and sizes that there is no specific size-fits-all method that shows how you can use them. However, there are some basic methods for the gua sha face sculpting technique with Jade stone. One of which is pressing the stone lightly on your skin and gliding it on a facial oil in an upward direction, gradually increasing the pressure to a pace you’re comfortable with. This is one of the best methods as advised by practitioners, and the application of gentle strokes against your skin with the stone is similar to a lymphatic flow.
Lymphatic drainage works by flushing accumulated fluids beneath your skin into your body’s detoxification system. The role of the gua sha is to gather those fluids into the lymphatic system where they will go through an intense cleaning process and be sent back to your bloodstream. Compared to our cardiovascular system whose primary function is to pump blood through our heart, the lymphatic system uses the contraction and movement of our muscles to circulate lymphatic fluid.
It is however often advisable for you to allow only a licensed acupuncturist or Chinese practitioner to perform gua sha on your body. This is the safest form for you and ensures lower risks attached. When done properly by a trained practitioner, the gua sha treatment will be effective and the possibility of pain and bruises from extreme use of force will be avoided.
Benefits of Gua sha
Research has shown that constant use of gua sha can reduce inflammation, chronic pain diseases, and anxiety. It can also relieve the following conditions:
1. Migraine Headaches
Research has shown that the migraines of those who used gua sha over a 14-day period improved considerably which shows that it can serve as an effective treatment for migraines but further research needs to be done to confirm for sure.
2. Neck Pain
In a study technique, 48 participants with neck pain were separated into two groups. The first group was treated using gua sha and the other group was given a heating pad. The group that got treated with gua sha got relieved of their neck pain in a shorter time compared to the second group.
3. Engorgement of the Breasts
Gua sha treatment is found quite effective for treating breastfeeding mothers who develop engorged breasts. This happens when the breasts become excessively full with milk and become very painful or if the mother and the infant are away from each other. A study shows that breastfeeding mothers who got treated with gua sha in the hospital went home after a few weeks feeling better and were able to breastfeed better.
4. Hepatitis B
Hepatitis B is the inflammation of the liver and is sometimes caused by a viral infection. It is often transmitted by blood, sexual intercourse, and the exchange of body fluids. It most times results in liver damage or scarring. A study performed on a man with high liver enzymes shows that gua sha helps reduce the amount of damage done to the liver by hepatitis b within 48 hours after treatment. More research still needs to be done to prove this fact, however.
5. Tourette Syndrome
This is a neurological disorder that is characterized by the presence of physical and vocal tics- a sudden, semi-voluntary muscle movement. A study is shown that a man who had Tourette syndrome since the age of 9 was treated using acupuncture, gua sha, and herbs with a lot of lifestyle changes. Within 35 weeks of treatment, there were significant changes and a success rate of 70%.
6. Perimenopausal syndrome
Perimenopause occurs in women as they advance menopause. Some of the early symptoms are inability to sleep, irregular periods, hot flashes, anxiety, and tiredness. A study that examined 80 women with perimenopausal symptoms has shown that 15-minute treatments of gua sha once a week for eight weeks can provide an effective and improved result for the syndrome.
Possible side effects of gua sha
Gua sha has very minimal side effects but it can leave bruises on your skin and minor bleeding when you press the stone too hard against your skin. The treatment might also change the appearance of your skin, however, it is just temporary. Most bruises clear off within a few days. When performed often, gua sha can cause an overwhelming feeling of fatigue which is mostly caused by the sudden release of toxins from the body.
Another likely side effect is the transfer of bloodborne illnesses during gua sha if bleeding occurs, therefore it is vital for practitioners to sterilize their equipment after use. People who have just completed surgery should avoid gua sha treatments as well. If you have rashes, sunburn, or blood coagulation issues, it’s best to avoid this technique altogether.
How to choose the best tools
There is no specific type of stone for gua sha but there is a specific shape. A gua sha stone should be smooth to the touch, rounded, and is able to fit the curve of the area you want to scrape. It should be convenient to grip as well. When a tool has several angles and curves, it will give you more options for use and a chance to discover what works best for you.
While looking out for the best tool, the material of the stone is another thing you should be particular about. Some are made from amethyst while others are from jade. These two are natural heat absorbers, therefore they help to balance the hot effect of the gua sha process. The gliding technique causes a warm friction on the skin, so amethyst and jade stones cool it down.
A key point to look out for when selecting a well-made gua sha tool is the weight. A quality tool made from natural materials will be slightly heavier than a synthetic tool. The heavier the tool, the more effective it will be because a heavier stone gets you a better long-term result.
The simplicity of gua sha treatments plays a huge role in the huge demand for them. In a world evolving daily with complex technological advancement, gua sha presents a refreshing change with its simple look and effectiveness. It is especially useful in treating tension and breaking down tight muscles.
Gua sha treatment is great for facial therapy and it clears stagnation of fluids under the skin, depuff through the face oil for gua sha massage, and improves microcirculation creating an even toned, and smooth skin. When conventional treatments don’t work for you, gua sha is a great alternative as it destresses the joints, balancing your body’s energy.
The important part is using it correctly and consistently, getting into a routine of using it two to three times a week gives the best results. Regardless of the fact that the technique is simple and straightforward, it is still advisable to go through a well-trained professional to get the most out of the treatment.