What is Gua Sha and what are its benefits?

Gua Sha is one of the modalities that are part of Traditional Chinese Medicine. It involves a smooth-edged instrument being repeatedly scraped around an area to produce a light bruising. The area is usually well lubricated to reduce the friction between the skin and the instrument. Gua Sha consists of two Chinese characters. The term 'Gua' means to rub or scrape while the distinctive red dotting and discolouration that appears during and after the treatment is 'Sha'. In short, Gua Sha means ‘to rub out the sha’. During a treatment, the appearance of the Sha is a positive response and brings an immediate benefit dispelling the cause of any diseases or illness that may be in the superficial and deeper levels of the body.


Gua Sha can be used to treat both acute and chronic conditions. The benefit of Gua Sha is that the patient may feel an immediate change to their condition, especially in musculoskeletal conditions through their pain sensitivity, sense of constraint and range of motion. This is due to the fact that Gua Sha helps move stuck qi and blood and helping with the movement of fluids in the body. Research has shown that Gua Sha reduces pain and inflammation while triggering an immune protective response that can last days after the treatment. Even though Gua Sha is well known for treating musculoskeletal problems, it can also be applied in treating internal organ problems.

The only side effects from a Gua Sha treatment would be the presence of the distinctive red scrape marks left from the treatment, but they should disappear over time, with the time for the marks to disappear depending on the blood circulation of the body.