Guasha is a form of scraping therapy that is done with any type of blunt solid instrument. It is a traditional form of therapy that has been used both in Chinese Medicine as well as in homes for many generations and throughout many Asian cultures.
When seeing a practitioner for this particular therapy they will most likely use one of several tool which can include:
1) A water buffalo horn
2) A piece of jade shaped for the purpose of the therapy
3) A Chinese soup spoon (white porcelain)
To understand the use of the tools we must explore the reason the therapy is implemented. In general it is believed that disease can be carried by wind (think about how the flu spreads) and also by over exposure to heat (such as heat stroke). Guasha is applied to help draw the wind and heat to the surface of the body where it is believed that they are released or driven out by the wei qi which is considered the external immune system in Chinese Medicine.
When the treatment is applied a patient will come up in red marks, this is part of the therapy and the discolouration will subside within a few hours. The red or purple marks that come up are considered to be the toxins clearing from the blood stream. The therapy itself is rather painless as a properly trained practitioner will use oil to avoid skin irritation and continually communicate with you in regards to the pressure applied.
Guasha can be used to assist with issues such as heat stroke, irritation, headaches, skin problems, tight muscles and a whole host of other medical symptoms. As many of the issues are to do with heat within the body, tools such as jade or water buffalo horn are believed to have cooling elements to them and as such a two fold therapy occurs – drawing out the pathogen but also cooling down the body. The use of the spoon is simply something that has evolved for the convenience of availability.
More recently there has been a trend of using guasha on the face which some suggest may increase the collagen production. Though as our clinic is focused on health and wellbeing we cannot comment on the validity of guasha for cosmetic use.
As mentioned in the introduction and the reason that the featured image is a coin – guasha has been used in many Asian families for generations as a home remedy for colds, flus and sore muscles. Many Asian families in Australia will use a 20c or 50c coin to scrape at the neck and shoulders in order to release the pathogen. The therapy in Vietnamese translates to “scratching wind” which indicates both the action and purpose of the therapy.