TCM: Scraping

By Simon Smith, January 15, 2014

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Gua sha (刮痧), or ‘scraping,’ is a traditional practice carried out to remove toxins and humidity within the body.

Different implements are often used for the treatment – a ceramic spoon, buffalo horn, jade – but a flat wooden comb is often the preferred utensil.

Superficially as simple as it sounds, scraping involves repeatedly dragging the chosen instrument along muscles or acupuncture meridians of the back, arms and legs. In addition to being therapeutic, it is particularly associated with alleviating muscular pain.

Before the scouring begins, a common Chinese embrocation is rubbed into problematic acupoints to promote blood circulation, prevent bleeding and aid recovery. Olive oil is also used as a lubricant to smooth the whole process.

Though the red marks left may suggest otherwise, gua sha isn’t painful and is akin to having an itch scratched by an obliging, long-nailed friend. In fact, the darker the marks the more humidity and/or toxins have vacated the body.

The doctor we spoke to explained that it’s best not to have more than one session per month. With all that blood being shunted and shoved around, expect to feel a little light headed afterwards. 

// RMB40/body part or acupoint. Shamian Guoyi Guan, 85-87 Shamian Bei Jie, Liwan District, Guangzhou 广州市荔湾区沙面北街85-87号 (020-8121 8383)

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