Gua Sha, a natural alternative to traditional therapy, involves scraping your skin using a massage tool to increase circulation. This ancient Chinese healing method may be able to help you achieve better health and address chronic pain.
This massage technique is when a technician scrapes the skin in short or long strokes with a flat-edged tool. This stimulates microcirculation in soft tissue which increases blood flow. After applying massage oil to your skin the technician uses the tool to scrape your skin repeatedly in a downward motion.
The aim is to reduce stagnant energy (or chi) in the body, which practitioners believe could be responsible for inflammation.
Chronic pain is often caused by inflammation.
Rubbing the skin’s surface can help to break down this energy, reduce inflammation and promote healing.
Gua Sha can be performed on the back, buttocks, and neck of a person. It can also be used as a facial treatment. The technician might apply gentle pressure and then gradually increase the intensity to determine how much force is necessary.
How Gua Sha can benefit you.
Gua Sha is thought to reduce inflammation. It’s used for chronic pain conditions like arthritis and fibromyalgia as well as pain that causes muscle and joint pain. It can also be used to relieve symptoms of the following conditions listed below.
Hepatitis B is an infection caused by viral infections that can cause liver inflammation, liver damage, and scarring. Research has shown that Gua Sha could reduce chronic liver inflammation.
An NIH case study followed a patient with high liver enzymes, indicating liver inflammation. 48 hours after Gua Sha massage therapy, there was a decrease in the patient’s liver enzymes. Researchers believe that Gua Sha can reduce liver inflammation and thus decrease the risk of liver damage. Further research is ongoing.
Gua Sha might be able to help you if your migraines aren’t responding to any over-the-counter medication. A 72-year-old patient with chronic headaches was treated with Gua Sha in another NIH study. She received it over a 14-day span and results showed that the ancient healing method may have been effective in relieving migraines.
The Gua Sha method may be effective in treating chronic neck problems. In a 2011 study, 48 participants suffering from similar neck pain symptoms were divided into two groups. To treat their neck pain, one group received Gua Sha while the other was treated with a thermal heating pad. Participants who received Gua Sha reported less pain after a week than those who got the heating pad.
Tourette syndrome is characterized by involuntary movements like facial tics, throat clearing, and vocal outbursts. A 2016 study suggests that Tourette Syndrome symptoms were reduced by combining Gua Sha with other therapies.
As women get closer to menopause, perimenopause symptoms can occur. Symptoms may include:
- Periods of irregularity
- Hot flashes
A 2017 NIH study found that Gua Sha can reduce the symptoms of perimenopause for some women.
Study participants included 80 women suffering from perimenopausal symptoms. For eight weeks, the intervention group received 15-minute gua sha treatments twice a week along with conventional therapy. The control group received only conventional therapy.
The intervention group experienced a greater reduction in symptoms like anxiety, insomnia, fatigue, headaches, hot flashes, and fatigue than the control group.
Are there any side effects?
Gua Sha can be used as a natural healing treatment. Although it isn’t supposed to hurt, the process can alter the appearance of your skin with minor bruising. The procedure involves scraping or rubbing the skin with a massage instrument. Because of this, small blood vessels called capillaries can burst near your skin’s surface. Minor bleeding and skin bruising can occur, but most bruising disappears in a matter of days.
Gua sha is not for people who take blood thinners or suffer from clotting disorders. It is also suggested that patients wait 6 weeks after surgery before beginning treatments.
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