Gwa Sha, traditional Chinese healing

03 May

I once saw a lady working as a hostess in a Chinese restuarant. Middle aged, but the peculiar thing about her was that she had the bruise lines like vertical hickeys on her throat. I joked to my mother that she liked rough play. However I did not know at the time that she had gotten gwa sha treatment.

Gwa sha in chinese translates to scraping sand, the sound that is elicited when an object is dragged across the skin and the fascia between the muscles grinds against the bone. It is seen as a form of massage, but like all acupuncture treatments can have systemic benefits to circulation and internal organ systems.

As I completed my chiropractic degree, I learned much about acupuncture  and traditional Chinese medicine. Though some doctors may say its fringe science and pure physchosomatic or placebo effect many of the world’s oldest healing techniques remain in use until this day, and some are effective. Gwa sha is known in chinese medicine as great for flu-like symptoms (done on the back), muscular strains or sprains (regionally), and peripheral circulatory problems. Many acupunture techniques are great at bringing blood to needed parts of the body and you can see this with gwa sha. Although it is painful, it can have remarkable effects if done properly.

The bruising that is indicative of gwa sha is more like a hickey and goes away wihtin a few days, I don’t know if this will affect tattoos, but I would not do it on a tattoo, becuase even though it may disappear in a couple of days people don’t like to mess up their artwork. When i have it done, though I feel sore in those regions the next day, I sleep like a baby that night.

Had some wrist problems the other day, so I had my auntie gwa sha both my forearms on both sides, biceps and triceps, and a little on the shoulder blades. It is very painful, and most of my cousins will not subject themselves to that, but my need for treatment and high tolerance for pain make this an effective treatment for wrist pain.

It is safe enough to try it on yourself at home, but I would let a professional acupuncturist or someone trained in its benefits.

For those of you interested, especially any acupuncturists, DC’s, therapists, she used a new type of gwa sha treatment that she had learned from a chinese doctor. instead of scraping an area of the forearm, she slapped my biceps and forearms until they were black and bruised. Mucho Dolor! Painful but effective. 3 days ago and the bruising is going away.


Posted by on May 3, 2011 in Health Restorations


4 responses to “Gwa Sha, traditional Chinese healing

  1. lyricscrawl

    September 10, 2013 at 5:18 pm

    Dr. Lee. What do you use to make your Gwa Sha?

    • drmichaelstevenlee

      September 10, 2013 at 6:32 pm

      Hi Lyrics Crawl. The gwa sha tool can be made out of almost anything where the edge is not sharp enough to cut the skin. For instance the back of a butter knife or the edge of a wooden ladle. Most commonly Chinese acupuncturists tools made of cow bone, but most products these days are made of plastic or wood and seems to perform just as well. Remember first to use a lotion or baby oil, second, rub in only one direction, and thirdly know that you will be slightly bruised over the area. This is the intended effect and is temporary, and usually a sign that the treatment will have some benefit for you. If you don’t feel improvisational, google gwa sha tool and you’ll definitely be able to buy one off the internet for a few dollars also note that they come in various shapes and sizes. Rectangles a re most popular but other shapes may work better for certain areas of the body.
      Thanks for the question,
      Dr. Lee

      • lyricscrawl

        September 10, 2013 at 8:55 pm

        Thank you Doc Lee, but I was wondering what your solution is made out of for the Gwa Sha.

        Lyric Scrawl…

    • drmichaelstevenlee

      September 13, 2013 at 7:54 am

      Back edge of a metal butter knife should suffice.


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )


Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: