Goodlife Chiropractic

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What is Gua Sha?

Of the many ancient health practices, one of the most curious is the technique of Gua Sha. Gua Sha is a Chinese phrase that translates “to scrape away fever”. This form of folk medicine is based on the ancient idea that by scraping away the top layers of the skin, disease can then escape the body. The disease appears as sandy objects that are released from the skin. Such ancient techniques are still being used in China, Indonesia, Japan and Vietnam under the name of “Cao Gio”. There are some English terms for this technique, most commonly called “spooning” or “coining”.

Gua Sha used repeated strokes under pressure on the skin that is lubricated. The object used for this process is generally smooth such as spoon or a coin. In some cases animal bones, horns or even jade has been used. Also, smooth metal caps may be used as they are common considering the availability of such caps.

The smooth edge of these objects are placed against the pre-lubricated skin, pressed downwards and moved along the muscle groups. Each stroke is generally a few inches long and in some cultures can follow the meridians of acupuncture. The visible result is blood from the capillaries just under the skin will seep into the top layers of the skin, causing blemishing which can take up to a week to fade away.

This blemishing is not a rash or the bruising of the capillaries since it fades over a short period of time. Depending on the blood stasis of the person undergoing Gua Sha, the color of the blemishing may appear light red to a very dark blue. This coloring will be affected by whatever the patient is suffering from at the time.

The Gua Sha Technique in Vietnam for example uses a number of methods, most commonly the skin on the back is covered in an oil balm and a coin or other smooth object is applied to the skin. There are other methods where a hard boiled egg is used with a coin inserted into the yolk. The egg is then wrapped in cloth and rubbed over the forehead is the person is suffering from fever. Interesting enough, when the coin is removed from the egg after the technique has been completed, the coin will appear black.

Although there is little evidence in Western medical circles that Gua Sha has the effect of “freeing” the disease from the body, it is still practiced widely in many Eastern cultures. Plus, many Vietnamese who live in Western societies still use Gua Sha at home. This has lead to many Vietnamese living in Western societies who use Gua Sha on their children to avoid going to local hospitals and clinics in fear that the temporary markings would be mistaken for child abuse.

Despite the questionable nature of the effects of Gua Sha, it is still widely practiced today and it certainly has the effect of increasing blood flow and helping to relax the patient who may be suffering from some type of minor condition such as fever or illness.


Dr. Alec Khlebopros, is the treatment director of Proactive Chiropractic and Rehab Center offering over 8 years of professional practice and has treated thousands of patients. Dr. Alec is more than capable of servicing those with pain with Gua Sha treatment.  He is a well respected Chiropractor in Charlotte NC and is involved in his community.  For more information on Gua Sha from this Charlotte chiropractor visit the website.