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Skin Scraping (Gua Sha): A Traditional Chinese Therapy Against Poor Health


Skin Scraping (Gua Sha) is one of the traditional Chinese natural therapies. It is based on the skin theory of traditional Chinese medicine: by using tools such as jade, ox horn or cupping jars with liniment on, scraping and rubbing repeatedly the relevant parts of the skin, to dredge the channel, and activate blood circulation to dissipate blood stasis. Regular Skin Scraping is helpful to adjust the qi, relieve fatigue, and improve one’s immune system.


Skin Scraping therapy has a long history. It originated in the Paleolithic Age. When people were sick, out of instinct, they rubbed or hit some parts of the body with hands or stones, and sometimes it really alleviated the disease’s symptoms. Through long-term practice and accumulation, the method of curing the diseases with stones was formed. It gradually developed into a therapy through the support of the scientific system of Chinese medicine. The Chinese character “痧”(sha)comes from “沙”(meaning sand), and the latter first refers to a symptom. As after scraping the patients’ skin, there might be lots of red, dark purple or dark blue spots like sand, so the therapy gradually earned the name “Gua Sha.”

The principle of Skin Scraping is very easy to understand: through scraping the meridian points, good stimulation is created. This can help the yingqi and weiqi play their roles, engorge the meridian points and improve local circulation, so that the potential for disease resistance and immune function are enhanced. In fact, early in the Ming Dynasty, the physician Zhang Fengkui described the reason, pathogenesis and the symptom of Sha in his Book about Diseases in the Summertime. In his view, the toxic factor enters the body through mouth, nose and pores, and damages the health. It turns fierce as it goes deep in the body and accumulates more and more. Skin Scraping therapy uses tools to scrap the surface of the meridian points till the emergence of red spots on the skin. Through sweating, the toxins of Sha will be excreted, and the purpose of healing is achieved.


In addition to traditional scraping therapy, skin scraping health therapy, scraping therapy to lose weight, scraping therapy to dispel freckle and other new therapies has appeared to meet the need of the modern time. Especially the skin scraping health therapy is developed from the traditional therapy. Due to the development of the modern technology, the tools of scraping are becoming more suitable for the scraping of every parts of the body. The techniques also become more reasonable. Combined with the techniques of massage, hitting at meridian points and acupuncture, Skin Scraping has become the massage without direct hand touching, acupuncture without needle in the body, and cupping without cupping jars.

Under the pressure of fast-paced life, modern people face with the problems of poor health, so the natural therapy of Skin Scraping is beginning to attract many people’s attention again. It has become the choice of more and more people to keep their health.

Translated by Zhang Min