Gua sha (pronounced “gwah shaw”) means “scrape
sand”. This technique is commonly used throughout Asia by practitioners
and lay people as a safe and effective way to maintain health and prevent
illness. The Chinese government promotes the practice of Gua sha through
media campaigns in order to reduce health care costs.
To perform Gua Sha, the area to be treated is first lubricated with
thick oil or petroleum jelly. The skin is then rubbed with a round-edged
instrument in downward strokes. A soup spoon—the type used in Chinese
restaurants is used. (In other cultures, different implements are used—for
example, in Vietnam the technique is called cao yio, or coining, because
the edge of a coin is used).
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As the body is rubbed the spoon pushes a build-up of fluid ahead of
it and leaves an indentation or vacuum behind which draws toxic fluid
out to the skin’s surface from deep within the tissues.
The benefits gua sha and cupping are identical, except:
- Gua sha is better for reducing fevers and excess heat conditions.
- Gua sha can treat certain areas of the body that cups cannot, because
of their shape.
- Cupping works at a deeper level in the body.
See also What is Sha?