Gua sha is an ancient Chinese home remedy, which is based on scraping the skin with a blunt object such as a rice spoon in order to get the ‘sha’ (heat or stagnation) out of the muscles. It is often used to treat fever and the common cold but also works wonders for headaches and migraines. One of my many success stories with migraines involved gua sha and you can read about it on the case studies page.

Using gua sha

The gua sha tool is placed against the skin surface, which has been pre-oiled. The tool is then pressed down firmly and moved along the affected muscle or muscle group. In areas of stagnation or stiffness there is a tendency for immediate red or purple blemishing of the skin. This is due to breaking up of muscle fibres and peripheral capillaries. It will look like bruising in some cases, but disappears within 2-4 days and is not painful.

Areas that are not affected will only feel warm and will be marked. Gua sha, as well as being beneficial as a treatment tool, therefore also serves as a diagnostic tool for the practitioner because it highlights the areas of the body most affected by injury, pain, etc.

An alternative technique to gua sha Diana uses is fire cupping which produces similar results.