Gua Sha, also known as spooning or coining, is one a several ancient Chinese forms of medicine. It literally means scraping away the skin and anyone who has seen a patient after a treatment will immediately understand why! So just what exactly is it?

Practitioners use a round-edged instrument to stroke the skin, resulting in raised marks known as “sha”. These marks fade after 2-3 days, but can look alarming when seen for the first time. The choice of instrument varies from person to person and from country to country across South-East Asia, but can be anything from a spoon to a piece of bone, or even a cloth-wrapped boiled egg with a coin in the middle!

The skin is first lubricated, usually with oil. The massage can take place all over the body, but Gua Sha therapy for the neck and back is most common. Despite what you might think, the strokes themselves are not painful. In fact, most patients tend to feel invigorated during the session. However, it is also common to feel tired immediately afterwards. Gua sha therapy is also a technique that helps to draw blood from the surface using suction cups.

As with other oriental medicines, Gua Sha is traditionally used to cure or treat a whole range of ailments. Most common are different forms of fever and infection. It is also often recommended in respiratory and digestive problems. Some people use it as a form of neck massage to alleviate stress, anxiety and fatigue. It is a pleasant, if somewhat unusual way to work on muscle soreness and those aches and pains that tend to remain untreated in most of use because, whilst annoying, they never seem severe enough to bother with medical help.

Like other forms of chines medicine, Gua Sha is not completely understood by Western science. The fact that it has been used in the East for hundreds of years means it is an avenue worth exploring for many.

Filed under: Chinese Medicine