Gua sha is a traditional Oriental medicine technique commonly practiced in clinical settings and in homes across Asia. When the skin is pressed and a temporary red mark appears, the mark is referred to as sha. Sha is created when blood and qi are stuck and unable to circulate properly. Pain and disease occur when the blood and qi are not circulating. When sha is present, a round-edged instrument is used to scrape over the skin with light pressure. This technique 'raises the sha' and small, red petechiae appear. The sha typically lasts 1 to 3 days. When the tissues are healthy, it is difficult to raise sha.
Raising sha moves the qi and blood, promoting circulation and metabolic processes. The patient experiences immediate relief from pain, fever, chills, cough, or nausea. Gua sha is commonly used to treat acute infections, upper respiratory diseases, digestive problems, acute and chronic pain, and many other disorders.