Gua sha has grown in popularity over the last few years, especially among women who are looking to tighten and lift skin, especially on the face.
Gua sha has many benefits, including helping to relieve stress, increase circulation, and promote healing. However, gua sha also comes with risks if not used correctly, such as bruising and allergic reactions.
In this article I'll go over the benefits and risks of gua sha and help you decide whether it's worth trying.
What Is Gua Sha?
Gua sha is a practice rooted in Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM) that uses a gua sha tool to massage muscles, reduce pain, and release tension from your body.
Gua sha combines a lubricant oil or serum with a tool made of smooth material to scrape the skin on different areas of your body. It will stimulate blood and energy flow to reduce pain.
Energy, also known as Qi, can become blocked along the meridian pathways in the body, leading to pain and discomfort. Helping energy flow again through gua sha will promote healing and relief.
Scraping the skin increases blood circulation which helps to remove toxins from the body. That reduces inflammation and promotes healing.
Gua Sha Tools
Gua sha tools come in various shapes and sizes. The shape of the tool with its edges depends on what areas of the body you're using it on.
Consider what areas you plan to use gua sha on before purchasing a tool. You may also end up purchasing more than one.
There are tools that are better shaped for facial gua sha, while others may be better suited for your back, arms, legs, and other parts.
A gua sha tool is usually made of wood, metal, stone, or plastic. Tools made of stone, metal, and plastic are the most common. Stone tools like jade or rose quartz are popular for providing other energies and benefits.
When choosing a tool, also consider how easy or difficult it might be to hold the tool while scraping. Ones made of stone won't be as easy to hold, while ones made of other materials are easier to shape and create a handle for.
The Kanjo Pain Relief Gua Sha Myofascial Tool is made of stainless steel and has a hole in the middle to make it very easy to hold and scrape.
What Are the Benefits of Gua Sha?
There are many benefits to gua sha. Here are some of the top ones:
Hepatitis B is an infection that causes liver damage and inflammation. Hepatitis B can cause symptoms ranging from mild flu-like illness to severe liver disease.
Gua sha was shown to help reduce inflammation and protect the liver from damage in one study. Gua sha increased heme oxygenase-1 (HO-1) levels to increase liver protection. The study also showed a decrease in liver enzyme activity, indicating a reduction in inflammation.
Migraine headaches can be debilitating, but they don't have to be. Migraine headaches are often caused by neck and shoulder tightness. Gua sha can help loosen those muscles, increase circulation, and provide relief.
Neck pain is often caused by tight muscles around the neck area. Gua sha loosens these muscles, relieves pressure, and provides relief.
Breast engorgement can occur when too much milk builds up in the breasts if there's trouble with breastfeeding. It's uncomfortable and painful. Gua sha can help relieve this discomfort and help ease breastfeeding as well.
Perimenopausal syndrome is a condition that occurs in women nearing menopause. Symptoms include hot flashes, mood swings, sleep issues, and more. In one study, gua sha therapy was shown to help reduce perimenopausal symptoms.
Tourette syndrome is a neurological disorder characterized by involuntary tics. Tics are sudden, rapid muscle contractions that can come from any part of the body. They're not harmful, but they do disrupt daily life.
One study showed a reduction in symptoms by 70% of a man with Touraette's syndrome.
Reduce Anxiety and Stress
Stress and anxiety are two things we all deal with every day. Gua sha helps relax tense muscles, soothe sore muscles, and release tension. This makes it great for stress and anxiety.
Reduce Inflammatory Symptoms
Inflammation is our body’s natural response to injury. When something hurts, our bodies react by sending white blood cells to the site of the injury, leading to inflammatory symptoms. Gua sha reduces inflammation by opening up blocked energy channels and increasing lymphatic drainage.
In one study, gua sha was shown to have an increased anti-inflammatory effect compared to hot packs. It also improved and increased mobility in elderly patients.
Risks of Using Gua Sha
Gua sha is generally considered safe as it's non-invasive and a natural treatment for pain relief. But like anything else, gua sha comes with risks.
Some of the potential risks and precautions associated with using gua sha include:
- Bruising - Gua sha involves scraping against the skin with pressure. This can lead to bruising, but it should disappear by itself after two to three days.
Skin Sensitivity - Some people may develop sensitivity to heat or friction on their skin. This can be due to not using any or not enough lubricant balm or oil.
- Open Wounds - Don't use gua sha on open wounds because the scraping movement could cause the would to open further and lead to more bleeding.
- Allergic Reactions - If you have allergies to certain herbs, oils, or other ingredients used in the oil, then you may experience allergic reactions. Be sure that any oil you use doesn't contain any ingredients you're allergic to.
- Blood or Health Conditions - If you have any health conditions that affect blood flow, you should consult your doctor before using gua sha.
- Blood Medications - If you take medications for blood clotting, talk to your healthcare provider about how these meds will interact with gua sha.
Does Gua Sha Really Work?
Gua sha has been around for thousands of years in TCM. It's a very effective way to relieve pain, improve circulation, promote healing, and improve overall well-being. There have been a number of studies done on gua sha and its benefits for different symptoms.
Using a gua sha tool allows you to massage deeper into muscle tissue and loosen tight areas than just using your fingers.
The scraping and massaging action stimulates blood flow, which increases oxygen levels and promotes healing. It can also help improve flexibility and range of motion.
Gua Sha Benefits Final Thoughts
Gua sha is a simple yet powerful tool that can help you feel better from head to toe. For those who struggle with chronic pain, gua sha can provide relief without the need for medication. Gua sha is a great natural remedy that you can perform yourself at home.