You are going to see an Acupuncturist so you are only going to be getting needles right?
Yes and No, needles are the main tool in an Acupuncturist's Tool Box but not the only one. Traditional Chinese Medicine has a number of modalities that work along the same principles to help support the healing of the body. There is Eastern Nutrition, Tui Na, Cupping, Moxa and Qi Gong to name a few... but I want to let you in on another tool that most people have never heard of here in the West- Gua Sha.
Gua sha is one of several non-needle tools, it’s often used in combination with needles but It can be used as a stand alone therapy in its own right.
So what is it?
Gua translates to scrape and Sha means redness or swelling.
It is a technique of scraping or stroking the skin using a tool (traditionally made of metal, bone, or horn but now often made of stone like jade/quartz) on various parts of the body. Most often seen done on the back and neck.
The aim of Gua Sha is to promote normal circulation and metabolic processes of the body. It can help with pain, inflammation as well as symptoms of cold, flu, asthma, nausea, and vomiting along with boosting the immune system! (If you are feeling under the weather, be sure to see your acupuncturist right away for some acupuncture and gua sha!)
Like cupping, which is more well known here, Gua Sha similarly leaves marks on the body where it was applied BUT it is important to know that the marks are not bruises!
The Sha part of Gua Sha refers to red or purple dots that appear on the skin after it is scraped "sand". The dots are blood being released from blood vessels in the innermost layer of the skin.
Registered Acupuncturists I will do Gua Sha until these reddish dots start to appear. Once the dots come up, we move to a different area. The appearance of the Sha marks gives a lot of information about what is going on in the body.
Purplish dots indicate a higher degree of blood stagnation in the body. Stagnation commonly causes pain. Often people complaining of severe pain end up with purple dots from Gua Sha whereas if the colour of the dots is a bright red, it may represent more heat in the body. If dots come up easily, it indicates an acute condition whereas if it takes a long time for the dots to show it indicates a more chronic condition.
The marks from Gua Sha treatments usually disappear within a few days.
Gua sha, when done by a properly trained Acupuncturist, is not painful. In fact, many people say it feels like getting a massage. You may experience symptom relief in as little as one treatment. Cold symptoms are especially responsive to Gua Sha. With longstanding pain or illness, it may take several treatments to feel a change—just like with acupuncture treatments.
So are you ready to get Gua Sha'd?