Gua sha involves repeated pressured strokes over lubricated skin with a smooth edge. Commonly a ceramic Chinese soup spoon was used, or a well worn coin, even honed animal bones, water buffalo horn, or jade.
The smooth edge is placed against the oiled skin surface, pressed down firmly, and then moved down the muscles—hence the term “scraping” —or along the pathway of the acupuncture meridians, along the surface of the skin, with each stroke being about 4–6 inches long.
This causes the removal of stale, old blood from the peripheral capillaries and may result in sub-cutaneous blemishing, which usually takes 2–4 days to fade. Sha rash does not represent capillary rupture as in bruising, as is evidenced by the immediate fading of the markings and the rapid resolution of sha as compared to bruising.
Practitioners tend to follow the tradition they were taught to obtain sha: typically using either gua sha or fire cupping. The techniques are sometimes used together.
Color of sha
- red spots – indicate the release of toxins
- purple – very old and stagnate blood
- light green – deep cold in the tissues
- Dark green – stagnant blood and toxic qi
- Green/purple glow that turns red – pain or stagnant qi