Craving a clean January? You might be due for some serious scrubbing – channel scrubbing that is! Long before detox became a household name, there was Gua Sha (pronounced gwa – sha), an ancient approach to removing toxins, stimulating new cellular growth and boosting the immune system. And yes, it still happens to be on trend in the traditional Chinese medicine community.
Gua sha translates into ‘scraping’ and this age old treatment is quickly gaining popularity in the west. Performed on lubricated skin, practitioners employ rapid and precise strokes on the patient’s body using the edge of a gua sha ‘stick’ (a smooth stone tool often shaped like a fish).
The repetition of strokes on the skin draws up toxins which causes the appearance of small red ‘petechiae’ or raised 'sha' (referring to the symptom of light bruising or blood rising to the service of the skin) in Chinese. Although this treatment does not break the skin or cause pain, the skin can look slightly alarming post treatment if you are not warned.
Despite how this actually sounds, gua sha can be deeply relaxing like a massage (the type of pressure can range from gentle to firm). The marks on the skin usually fade in 2 - 3 days and the repetitive ‘scraping’ (also recognized by the body as micro-damage) kicks the immune system into high gear forcing a faster rate of cellular growth in the treated areas. Therefore, it’s very effective to treat (and or prevent) the common cold, flu, bronchitis, asthma and any chronic disorder involving congestion of qi and blood. As a result, it’s a very common treatment during cold and flu season.
Gua sha is also an efficient therapy for pain disorders usually aiding in immediate relief of headaches, backaches, and shoulder and neck pain. Using different surfaces of the stick, the practitioner can apply a range of techniques and pressure strokes to promote normal circulation and dredge the meridians (move blocked qi) to assist with pain management and regulate the organs for overall health and well being.
In addition, jade gua sha (using a jade stone tool) is a very beneficial treatment for the skin. In fact, it’s actually an ancient beauty secret and the use of jade was traditionally reserved for the upper echelons of Chinese society. When performed gently on the face, gua sha elicits a rosy and youthful glow to the skin post treatment. Jade tools have a lot of value added benefits since jade stone also helps to discharge toxins, supports molecule activation in living tissues and promotes cell rejuvenation.
Raise your sha to the new year and awaken your cells with this detoxifying treatment to kick off 2016!