Gua Sha

Gua Sha is an important medical treatment that has been used throughout Asia for centuries.

  • Gua – means ‘to rub’ or ‘press stroke’
  • Sha – is a term that describes the blood congestion in surface tissue areas where the patient may experience stiffness and pain; sha is also the term used for the little red dots that are raised from applying Gua Sha (Nielsen 2012).

Gua press-stroking is applied in repeated even strokes using a round edged instrument, and should not cause pain to the patient, though it may be slightly uncomfortable in spots. Sha appears as small red dots called ‘petechiae’ and the pain immediately shifts. In minutes the small red dots fade into blended reddishness.

The sha disappears totally in 2 or 3 days after treatment. The colour of sha and the rate of fadingcan indicate important information about a patient’s condition. Pain relief lasts even after the sha is completely gone.

The benefits of Gua Sha

  • It resolves spasm and pain, and promotes normal circulation in the muscles, tissues and organs, as seen in Gua Sha’s immediate effect on coughing and wheezing
  • Research has shown Gua Sha causes a fourfold increase in microcirculation of surface tissue (Nielsen et al, 2007)
  • Gua Sha can reduce inflammation and stimulate the immune system (Braun etal 2011; Chan et al 2011) and up-regulates heme-oxygenase-1 (HO-1) that acts to reduce internal organ inflammation, for example, in the case of asthma, hepatitis and liver disease.

The patient experiences immediate changes in stiffness and pain with increased mobility. Because Gua Sha mimics sweating, it can help to resolve fever. Gua Sha cools the patient who is too warm, warms the patient who feels too cold, while relaxing tension and reducing anxiety.

Cold acts in the body like it acts outside: it slows things down and causes things to collect and congest. When things congest in the body there is pain, chronic pain leads to decreased activity and compromised range of motion.

Acupuncturists and practitioners of Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM) consider Gua Sha for any illness or condition where there is pain or discomfort, for upper respiratory and digestive problems, and any condition where touch palpation indicates there is sha. Gua sha is often done in combination with acupuncture for problems that acupuncture alone cannot address.

For the 24 hours following treatment it is advisable

  • Avoid alcohol, excessive eating or dieting.
  • Stretching is recommended, but not a heavy workout in the day of the treatment
  • you are strongly recommended to drink plenty of water
  • Avoid exposure to the sun or wind until the Sha has faded – it is best to keep the area covered

Please keep track of how you feel in the days following the treatment. Does the pain return? Is it as intense? Are the episodes as frequent? Are you able to do more or less before tiring? For further information, go to

Please get in touch if you would like to discuss your treatment