History of Gua Sha
Gua Sha is an ancient treatment system from East Asia, as well as ancient Rome. Gua Sha can loosely be translated as Gua meaning “to scrape” and Sha meaning “sand”, “blood stasis”, or “heat”. Its original purpose was to rid the body of stagnation and cleanse the cells for whole body wellness. A combination of a water buffalo horn and friction massage was used to rub across the skin. A water buffalo horn would provide cold properties as well as acrid and salty flavors. The acridity improves qi and blood circulation, while saltiness relaxes stiffness and softens hardness. Gua Sha was generally performed on a person’s buttock, back, neck, arms, and legs. Over time, a gentler version was developed, to be used on the face as a facial technique.
Facial Gua Sha Benefits and Side Effects
Using gua sha on the face promotes healthy skin through detoxification, increased circulation, stimulating collagen, and aiding in flushing the lymphatic system. If performed properly, it will release stagnation in the skin’s tissue so that the skin may regain its elasticity. Facial gua sha has also been considered as an alternative to a facelift, due to its ability to lift, firm and sculpt facial contours.
Not only can a client benefit externally from this treatment, but internally as well. The root of gua sha lies in the meridian theory, which is the foundation of traditional Chinese medicine. The meridian theory is based on qi, which flows through six hundred and seventy meridian points. Qi is believed to be a vital energy that is held to animate the body internally and is of central importance in some eastern medicine treatments and of self-defense exercises such as tai chi. A meridian point is an imaginary line on the surface of a sphere, connecting to the opposite end of its axis. For example, it is believed that under and around the eyes are connected to the kidneys, liver, and stomach. On the face, there are sixty meridian points that each correspond to another body part, including internal organs. Ten of these meridians are essential to the gua sha massage. With the use of a technician’s hands and a gua sha tool, qi blockage can be cleared by performing specific strokes throughout the meridian points.
Gua sha is a safe, natural remedy that is not supposed to be painful. However, in some cases small blood vessels on the face known as capillaries can burst. Bruising and indentations of the skin have also occurred after a treatment. Both side effects usually occur due to bad technique by the technician. If a client has undergone surgery in the las six weeks, is taking blood thinners, or has a clotting disorder, they are not a good candidate for a gua sha treatment.
Gua Sha Tools and Protocol in The Treatment Room
Different tools are used during a gua sha treatment, usually depending on the technician’s preference and/or the clients needs. Some of these tools include a jade stone, a crown-shaped celadon, a rose quartz stone, a water buffalo horn, and the technician’s own hands. A jade stone comes in a smooth board shape. It is known for healing and energizing. It also contains many beneficial minerals and trace elements such as copper, cobalt, iron, manganese, and calcium. A crown-shaped celadon is a smooth board with scalloped edges. It is usually used on the scalp, forehead, and neck. It reduces tension while promoting a sense of wells being. It can also draw natural oils into the hair for health luster and texture. A rose quartz stone comes in a smooth board shape. It stimulates proper functioning of the heart and circulatory system. It is used to clear fluids in the cells of the body and promotes the release of impurities. A water buffalo horn comes in many shapes, from a smooth board shape to a spherical horn shape. As stated previously, water buffalo horns have cold, acrid, and salty properties. A technician’s hand is used to gently stroke along the meridian lines of the face, improving circulation, clearing blockage, and moving out toxins. Gua Sha techniques vary widely depending on the tool being used and the goal needing to be accomplished. In general, you will need to have the skin lubricated to perform the treatment. You should limit your strokes to three to ten times per area of the face, however it is safe to perform gua sha on a weekly basis. It is essential for the technician to have hands on training with a gua sha expert before adding this service to their menu.