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Gua Sha for Health

What is Gua Sha?

Gua Sha is a form of treatment used for pain, inflammation and immune support. Gua Sha is a Chinese term, Gua means to rub, or to stroke, which is the action used in Gua Sha, and Sha means sand, or the little red dots (petechiae) that appear after Gua Sha. During Gua Sha, an acupuncturist uses a tool to massage an area of the skin, usually the neck and back. The redness that occurs during and after Gua Sha is a result of blood congestion that accumulates in the surface tissue where there is stiffness and pain. The Gua Sha helps to promote normal circulation to the muscles and tissues as can be seen in research that showed Gua Sha caused an increase of microcirculation in surface tissue (1). Gua Sha has also been found to stimulate the immune system and reduce inflammation (2).

The picture below shows the redness that occurs from gua sha.

The redness fades and disappears in two to three days after treatment. It may last longer after the first Gua Sha treatment. Pain relief continues even after the redness is gone. Gua Sha can be repeated once the marks have completely faded. After Gua Sha you may notice increase range of motion, less stiffness, and reduced pain.

It is important to keep the area that has been treated covered until the marks fade so it is not exposed to environmental conditions such as, wind, cold, and direct sun. It is also important to drink plenty of water after treatment.

Who can benefit from Gua Sha treatments?

If you are interested in trying gua sha, let me know at your next appointment. It is a great addition to acupuncture and can be used for neck and upper back tension, helping the body to detox, recovering from a cold, and much more. There are certain situations in which gua sha should not be used, such as thinning of the skin, rash, sunburn, bruise, cuts in the area, and with certain medications, so always have Gua Sha performed by a trained practitioner, a licensed acupuncturist.

All the best,

Kearney DeFillipo L.Ac., Dipl.Ac.


1. Nielsen, et al. 2007. The Effect of Gua Sha Treatment on the Microcirculation of Surface Tissue. Explore (MY) 3 (5), 456-466

2. Braun, et al. 2011. Effectiveness of Traditional Chinese Gua Sha Therapy in Patients with Chronic Neck Pain. Pain Med 12 (3), 362-369.

3. Chan, et al. 2011. Guasha-induced hepatoprotection..Clin Chim Aeta 412 (17-18) 1686-1688.

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