Gua sha: What you need to know

gua sha stone

Gua sha is a traditional East Asian medicine. It involves scraping, twisting, and massaging the skin in order to relieve pain or stiffness.

A key point in the treatment of cellulite is to scrape the skin (commonly the upper back) to invigorate blood flow, release heat-toxins, stimulate lymph drainage, activate various points of the body and bring helpful cells to the area.

There has been limited research into how well gua sha works. We have found out more about that, and if it has any side effects.

What is gua sha?

Gua sha is a traditional Chinese medicine practice in which the practitioner uses a tool to apply pressure and scrape the skin to relieve pain and tension. The practitioner will often cause light bruising, which will appear as purple or red spots called petechiae or sha.

The name gua sha comes from the Chinese word for scraping. It may also be called skin scraping, spooning, or coining.

Many people in Chinese medicine believe that qi or chi is energy that flows through the body. Qi must be balanced and flowing freely to ensure a person’s health and wellbeing.

Qi can become blocked in the body, causing pain or tension. Gua sha is a technique that has been used for centuries to unblock and relieve those aches.

East Asian medicine also views pain and illness as caused by blood stasis or stagnation. One way traditional East Asian medicine aims to reduce symptoms is by moving pooled or stagnated blood, which it aims to relieve.

Physiotherapists use the tool known as instrument assisted soft tissue mobilization (IASTM) during a massage. Using a tool instead of hands gives physiotherapists some more flexibility during their sessions.

What are the benefits of gua sha treatments?

Tara McCannel, founder of Seyhart Wellness in Santa Monica, California, says “Research has demonstrated that Gua Sha can lower migraine pain, lessen the symptoms of perimenopause, reduce inflammatory symptoms, and reduce anxiety.”

Vassanelli credits Gua Sha’s ability to reduce inflammation and tension, as well as break down muscle tension.

“At first, it’s a little painful,” she says. “But the more you practice, the less painful it gets because the inflammation is reduced — easing away discomfort, tension and puffiness.”

Facial massages can help improve your appearance. The movements of massaging the face will help to move more lymph through the system.

How to Use a Gua Sha Tool?

Did you know that there are so many varieties and shapes of gua sha tools? There is really no one-size-fits-all approach to how to use these types of tools.

Use gentle pressure against your skin and “apply even strokes.” This is best done in the direction of lymphatic flow.

The lymph nodes are located around the body under the skin. You can clear your boils and congestion by applying a gentle facial gua sha technique.

The lymphatic system is a series of organs that work together to help the body clear excess fluid and remove toxins in the body.

Tobia explains how the lymphatic system works for us. “It’s like a garbage disposal. The interstitial fluids that collect beneath your skin need to be flushed into the body’s natural detoxification system. Gua sha works to move those collected fluids into the lymphatic system where they get cleaned and mixed back into your bloodstream.”

“There is no pump for the lymphatic system like there is in the circulatory system,” she continues. “You can perform gua sha techniques to give your lymphatic system a boost and get rid of fluids that are causing your garment to bloat and draw attention to your face.”

For moisturizing my face, I put a small amount of facial oil on a pad and use it all over my face, neck, and décolletage. It’s brilliant for the days when I want to really ham up the facial massage or need to iron out a cheese board-induced puffy jawline.

It is super easy to use.


There is conflicting evidence as to whether gua sha can help people with a range of conditions. More research needs to be done in order to draw conclusions.

Gua sha is a treatment which has no serious side effects, but people must prepare for the pain by making sure that they have a reputable practitioner.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *