What is guasha?

Guasha 刮痧 is a Chinese word that translates to “scrape illness”. This therapy has been around for thousands of years and is considered one of the earliest recorded form of traditional Chinese medical treatment. By stroking one’s body with a stone, one is releasing the “sha”, hence improving circulation and enhancing one’s well-being. Furthermore, it is a natural remedy for muscular pain. Although this is an ancient therapy, Guasha is still widely practised today. Much like cupping, guasha is not a recognised medical practice in the West.

Important note: No information contained on this website is intended for medical advice.

Did you know? Guasha is both a verb and a noun.

Why guasha?

Traditional Chinese medicine (TCM) believes that pain is caused by the obstruction of “qi” 氣 or circulation, hence unblocking congestion naturally alleviate discomfort. “Sha” 痧 refers to the red or purple-red subcutaneous blood spot that may surface during the guasha treatment. Often this process is interpreted as releasing toxin or congested blood.

The goal is to relief pain, not cause pain. Professional TCM practitioners is skilled in knowing where the pressure points are and hence able to release “sha” without excessive force. For DIY home guasha, it is important to remember that the goal is not to scrap until there are red spots. If in doubt, use it like a massage tool.

From the western perspective, the red spots are caused by micro-bursting of capillaries under the skin during scrapping.

Facial guasha (and facial stone rollers included) is not an effective wrinkle reducing treatment. There is no supporting evidence to suggest this. If effective youth restoration treatment is what you seek, please refer to injectables or laser treatment by registered medical professionals.

Where to use guasha?

The most common place of application is on the back, shoulders and neck. Although, technically, guasha can be done anywhere on the body where there’s discomfort or knot. For home DIY user’s safety, avoid scrapping on the spine.

When to guasha?

Due to guasha having spread to the West, it is probably more useful if one differentiates the traditional guasha and modern guasha that more adapted to the West. Fundamentally, the 2 are the same, however, the traditional practice has more restriction on what not to do after a session.

Traditional (usually done by a professional, visible “sha” is likely)

Once to twice a week, 15min per session.

  • Do not shower within 30 minutes after a guasha session, especially if “sha” are visible.
  • Do not stay in front of a fan or an air conditioner after a guasha session.
  • Drink warm water or warm ginger honey beverage straight after a guasha session is considered best practice for helping for the body to detox.
  • The body is likely to sweat or warm up significantly after a session, it is important to refrain from exposing one’s body to rapid cool down.

Summer season tends to be the peak season for guasha in Asia. The reason for this is that people are often stationed in air conditioned environment or ingest cold food and drinks. Under this environment, internal humidity is formed. Given that humidity is considered one of the causes of illness in TCM, guasha is a trusted method to release this from the body and restore balance to the body.

How to use guasha?

For any parts from the shoulders and below, use the edge of the stone and scrap in long downward strokes. There are a few exceptions, please refer to the chart. Choose the edge that is the most comfortable for you.

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Who should NOT use guasha?

Scrapping on wounds or weakened skin may lead to secondary infection, hence do not practice scrap (guasha) on:

  • Open wound
  • Dermatitis
  • Allergy related skin condition
  • Acne
  • Folliculitis
  • Eczema
  • Urticaria… etc

When it comes to the traditional sense of guasha, where one aims to get some “sha” out of the system, it is important that person with the following condition(s), should not use guasha:

  • Infant and toddler
  • Pregnant
  • Cancer patient
  • Severe varicose veins (poor wall elasticity)
  • Diabetes (wound does not heal easily)
  • Heart disease or other heart related medical issues
  • Abnormal blood coagulation
  • Blood disease
  • Liver or kidney dysfunction

Should you have any pre-existing medical condition(s), please consult your doctor before doing any traditional scraping.

Important note: No information contained on this website is intended for medical advice. Guasha is not a recognised medical practice according to western medicine.