Gua Sha literally “to scrape away fever” in Chinese is an ancient medical treatment. Sometimes referred to as “spooning” by English speakers, this technique 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. A simple metal cap with a rounded edge is commonly used.
The smooth edge is placed against the pre-oiled skin surface, pressed down firmly, and then moved down the muscles 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 extravasation of blood from the peripheral capillaries (petechiae) and may result in sub-cutaneous blemishing (ecchymosis), which usually takes 2-4 days to fade. Although the marks on the skin look painful, they are not. Patients typically feel immediate sense of relief and change.
In classical Chinese practice, the Gua Sha technique is most commonly used to:
Reduce fever (the technique was used to treat cholera). Treat fatigue caused by exposure to heat or cold. Cough and dyspnea: bronchitis, asthma, emphysema. Treat muscle and tendon injuries. Treat headache. Treat stiffness, pain, immobility. Treat digestive disorders. Treat urinary, gynecological disorders.