Gua Sha

Gua Sha

Gua sha is a traditional Chinese healing technique that involves stroking the skin with a smooth-edged tool, such as a porcelain spoon or jade stone. I often combine gua sha with acupuncture treatment to treat some of the most stubborn conditions.

Benefits of Gua Sha include:

  • Pain relief
  • Reduced inflammation
  • Breaking scar tissue and relieving tight muscles (trigger points)
  • Stimulating collagen to enhance skin health
  • Improved immune function
  • Lymphatic drainage
  • Relaxation

gua sha treatment on back

What is Gua Sha? 

Gua sha is a manual therapy within Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM). The technique involves applying pressure and rubbing the skin in one direction using a smooth-edged tool, typically made of materials like jade or ceramic. Often it is done on the upper back, neck, ribs and lower back. As a beauty technique it done on the face to stimulate circulation and the production of collagen.   

How does Gua Sha Work?

The purpose of Gua Sha is to stimulate the body’s natural healing processes by breaking up stagnant Qi (the body’s energy), promoting blood flow, and removing heat. Qi and blood stagnation impead circulation.  Also, stagnation will eventually develop into heat causing inflammation, tightness, and pain. The gua sha tool helps breaks up this stagnation and releases the heat. 

Physiologically, gua sha is thought to stimulate the release of natural anti inflammatory and antioxidant chemicals in the body. It also smoothes tightness in the muscles and fascia as well as helps to drain the lymphatic system. 

Gua Sha Session

During a Gua Sha session, the skin is lubricated with oil or balm to reduce friction. Then, the gua sha tool is dragged along the muscles and meridians. This is done against across the direction of the muscle fibers which will make small bruises (called petechiae) on the skin in the areas of the gua sha. The repeated even strokes pull stagnant fluids to the surface, promoting the flow of fresh oxygenated blood and lymph throughout the body. 

In Chinese medicine, we call the petechiae “sha” (literally translated as sand) which helps to resolve blood stagnation and remove heat. The darker the sha marks the more heat and stagnation is present in the body. Interestingly, if there is not too much heat present, or there is no blood stagnation, it does not create a bruise.

Gua sha is very safe and comfortable. The pressure feels like a massage. Sometimes there can be soreness after the procedure much like a massage. The bruises can last for a few days or up to a week. 

Gua sha on the face does not cause a bruise.  

What is Gua Sha used for? 

I will include the gua sha with my acupuncture treatment for many conditions. Gua sha can be particularly helpful for stubborn conditions which have not responded to other treatments.  

  1. Pain relief: Gua Sha is often used to alleviate pain associated with chronic conditions like arthritis, neck pain, lower back pain, fibromyalgia, certain nerve pain, and muscle pain. It is also helpful for migraine headaches. 
  2. Nausea: Gua sha is very effective for treatment of nausea and morning sickness.  
  3. Respiratory Illness and the Common Cold: Gua Sha has been traditionally used to relieve symptoms associated with respiratory conditions, such as asthma and bronchitis, by helping to clear congestion and improve lung function. It’s very powerful to reduce the symptoms of common cold and flu. 
  4. Difficult Urination: I have found Gua Sha combined with acupuncture to be helpful for chronic prostatitis, IC, pelvic pain, and enlarged prostate. 
  5. Improved skin health: Gua Sha is believed to stimulate the production of collagen and elastin, which can lead to healthier, more youthful-looking skin. It is sometimes used as a natural, non-invasive cosmetic treatment for facial rejuvenation.
  6. Headache and migraine relief: Some people find Gua Sha helpful in reducing the frequency and severity of headaches and migraines by relieving tension in the neck and shoulders.

Facial Rejuvenation

Gua Sha has gained popularity in recent years as a natural and non-invasive cosmetic treatment. We combine the technique with facial acupuncture to stimulate blood flow, encourage lymphatic drainage, stimulate collagen, and relax facial muscles. 

Gua sha helps to improve skin tone and texture, reduced puffiness and fluid retention, facial muscle relaxation, and improved complexion. 


Gua Sha is a powerful therapy that can enhance the treat many conditions and enhances the benefits of acupuncture. It can be used to enhance pain relief, reduce inflammation, as well as promote relaxation and improve skin health.  Gua sha is one of the common approaches I will combine with acupuncture to target the root cause of your health concerns to bring optimal wellness and long term improvements.