Gua Sha

Gua sha is an ancient and remarkably effective technique, widely used in Asia and chosen by many modern Asian households as a first line of treatment for a wide variety of conditions.  

In translation, the word gua means to rub or press stroke, while sha describes blood congestion in superficial tissues where pain and stiffness are felt.  Sha also describes the little red dots that appear on the skin’s surface during a gua sha treatment.

There are many benefits of gua sha, but chief among them are the relief of pain and spasms.  A person receiving a treatment may experience immediate improvements in stiffness and pain, as well as increased mobility and range of motion.  Research has shown that gua sha provides dramatic increases in circulation to muscles and surface tissues, reduces tissue inflammation, and boosts the activity of the immune system. It's also demonstrated gua sha’s ability to reduce inflammation in the body’s internal organs, providing great benefits to people suffering from conditions like asthma, hepatitis, and liver disease.

Because gua sha stimulates immune function, it can help fight colds and flu at early onset, can shorten their duration once they've begun, and hasten recovery when you’re already sick. It can also help resolve the lingering after effects of illness, including sinus congestion, persistent coughs, wheezing, and fatigue.

Because it promotes circulation, gua sha cools you when you feel too warm (think fevers and hot flashes) and warms you when you feel cold (think cold hands and feet).  It can be considered for any condition involving pain and discomfort, and any condition affecting respiration or digestion.  It also relaxes tension and anxiety.

During a gua sha treatment, I first apply a pleasant smelling salve to the area of the body being treated. Then I use a small tool to rub the skin's surface with repeated, even press strokes over the area being treated. This stimulates blood circulation and promotes the release of sluggish blood and waste products that become stuck in the tissue after injury or build up due to chronic muscle tension.

With repeated press strokes, sha will appear in the form of small, red dots called petechiae.  Within minutes, these small red dots diffuse into a generalized redness.  The dots and redness linger after the treatment, but usually fade within 2-5 days.  The color of the sha may vary from pale red to dark red to deep purple.  The amount of sha produced, its color, and the rate of fading are indicators of a person's general health and their prognosis for recovery.

Generally, people find gua sha to be very relaxing and, in a way, to feel like a deep massage. The decrease in pain and reduction in tension after a treatment can be dramatic. Gua sha can provide lasting pain relief and improvements in health long after the red dots have disappeared.

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Rick DeTroye L.Ac. LLC
200 NE 20th Avenue, Suite 140
Portland, OR 97232
503-484-3513
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