Gua Sha Therapy – Fighting Fire with Fire

by Mary Lou | Last Updated: September 7, 2016 When you buy something using the links on our posts, we may earn a small commission at no additional cost to you. Learn more.

We all want to look and feel beautiful. Medicine, make-up artists, nutritionists, yogacise, mindfulness, massage – it seems like the entire Western world is trying to do its best to look and feel good. The problem: modern science still doesn’t offer all the solutions we need.

That’s why every now and again a new beauty and health trend comes out of the East and enjoys a summer of buzz, hype, and celebrity endorsements. Some of these trends are bizarre and pointless, while others are ancient techniques that really work.

One of these trends – popular among celebrities like Gwyneth Paltrow – is called Gua Sha therapy. It promises to relieve pain, nourish the skin, help you detox, and you don’t need expensive equipment to do it.

If you’ve never heard of it or want to learn more, you’re in luck: in this article we’ll answer all your Gua Sha-related questions.

What is Gua Sha Therapy?

The word Gua means “to scrape”, while the word Sha has several different meanings. In medical terms “sha” refers to metabolic waste, which can affect blood and energy flow and cause pain. So ‘Gua Sha’ means scraping or massaging away these toxins, normally with a smooth-edged tool (we discuss some of the best ones below).

gua sha scraping

Once the excess waste is gone, newer and healthier cells can be created. Therefore, it can be said that Gua Sha is not only a massage technique, but also a detoxification technique.

The Practice of Chinese Medicine - What is Gua Sha?

Gua Sha is sometimes defined as the process of withdrawing “cold winds” from the body. Has it ever happened to you that you experience neck pain after spending some time in an air conditioned room? This is exactly what those cold winds are. They most often enter your body through the back of your neck. Gua Sha therapy can push this cold out of your body.


Gua Sha therapy is often performed in spas and hospitals, as well as households all over China, where this technique is extremely popular because it relieves pain efficiently and fast. Modern research shows this ancient technique can be extremely beneficial to one’s overall health. More about that below.

The Benefits of Gua Sha Therapy

Modern research shows that Gua Sha produces an anti-inflammatory and immune protective effect that relieves pain almost immediately. This technique can be used to treat and relieve pain, stiffness, nausea, fever and vomiting, impotence, urinary problems, high blood pressure, hormonal imbalances and various skin disorders, among other things. It is also effective in curing acute and chronic disorders of internal organs.

Essentially, all the benefits of Gua Sha therapy can be classified in two categories:

How does Gua Sha therapy help detoxify the body?

When this type of massage is applied, something called petechiae is released on the surface of the skin. Petechia are small red spots that appear on the skin after Gua Sha therapy. They are essentially a useful by-product that triggers the cleansing process of the treated area, eliminating dead blood cells and other similar toxins.

gua sha therapy strokes

Cell nourishment occurs because petechiae actually produces more blood and oxygen to the area that is treated therefore nourishing dead cells.

After a series of treatments is completed, the human body organically re-energizes and repairs itself, striking a wonderfully healthy inner balance.

Who is Gua Sha Therapy for and Does It Hurt?

Gua Sha therapy is a universal cure. We live in such a stressful, hectic age that we often forget to take a look in the mirror, so to speak. We have bills to pay, jobs to go to and families to take care of that we ignore our own health. This is why this centuries old therapy can be incredibly beneficial to each and every one of us.

Stress is something most of us are battling on a daily basis and it can manifest itself physically. Back pain and neck pain are often a consequence of stress, not to mention more serious health issues that can jeopardize our overall health in the long run.

Collective healing is what we, as a society need. Instead of running away from ancient knowledge and healing techniques, we should embrace and accept them. These techniques wouldn’t be around for so long if they weren’t effective.

If you’re wondering whether Gua Sha is painful or not, which is a legitimate concern, you’re up for a disappointment as it is almost impossible to provide a one size fits all type of answer to this question. Gua Sha treatment can be unpleasant, mildly painful or hurt enough to make you want to stop the treatment.

We are all different and our bodies are complicated, elaborate systems of nerves, organs, tissues and cells. Whether or not this type of treatment will hurt doesn’t just depend on your body, it also depends on which part of the body is being treated, how experienced your therapist is or what the tools you are using to implement Gua Sha are like.

If you’ve ever been to an acupuncturist or a similar professional, you might have an idea about varying levels of unpleasant sensation or pain traditional treatments can sometimes cause.

Disclaimers aside, Gua Sha feels like a sunburn for most patients, at the very worst, and LOOKS much worse than it feels. Plus after the treatment, you tend to feel pretty awesome.

What are The Best Gua Sha Massage Tools?

One of the best things about Gua Sha therapy is the fact that each and every one of us can easily apply it at home with proper tools. There are countless massage tools out there but, unfortunately, there are also many scammers and charlatans in this world, trying to take advantage of the gullible and less knowledgeable among us.

This is why we have compiled a short list of the best Gua Sha massage tools available on the market today. They are all listed below, in no particular order:


Best Jade Gua Sha Scraping Massage Tool - Hand Made Jade Guasha Board - Great Tools for SPA...

Long lasting and made out of high quality jade, this Gua Sha massage tool is perfect for those who have sensitive skin because of its ultra-smooth surface. Yet, it is equally as effective as similar products out there. The best thing about this tool is the fact that designers were heavily influenced and inspired by ancient Chinese tools, so the Jade works and looks like Gua Sha tools from centuries ago.

If neck, face, back or foot treatment is what you need BEST Jade will replace your massage therapist and be the perfect pain and stress reliever that you can use at home on a daily basis.

Best Jade Gua Sha Scraping Massage Tool - Hand Made Jade Guasha Board - Great Tools for SPA...
838 Ratings
Best Jade Gua Sha Scraping Massage Tool - Hand Made Jade Guasha Board - Great Tools for SPA...
  • A PRECIOUS JADE GUA SHA BOARD: This premium Jade facial Gua Sha board is rich in a whole range of jade species of trace mineral elements...
  • GREAT DESIGN GREAT TREATMENTS:This HEARTCANFEEL jade gua sha board are now upgraded to be SMOOTHER and THICKER .It is very suitable for...
  • STYLISH DESIGN: Elegant, smooth and effective, it will allow for maximum comfort in daily use, to offer Your face the unique natural...

Last update on 2023-04-01 at 00:52 / Affiliate links / Images from Amazon Product Advertising API / More info


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Made out of high quality, traditional buffalo horn, this is built to last, easy to clean and static free. Physical therapists often recommend this tool to their patients because it is easy to use and has a smooth surface, so even the most inexperienced of users don’t have to worry about hurting themselves or damaging their skin.

This tool is perfect for relieving tension in neck and shoulders, usually caused by emotional and physical stress, but it is recommended that you use it with a gua sha oil, in order to get the full effects.

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Medical Grade Stainless Steel Soft Tissue Therapy Tool

Gua Sha Tools,Guasha Tools,Chiropractic Tools,Physical Therapy Tools,IASTM Tools for Myofascial...

Made out of stainless steel, durable and extremely user friendly, this massage therapy tool is absolutely perfect for beginners and those of you inexperienced with traditional Eastern medicine. Because of its small size, it can easily be used on virtually all parts of the body, making it the perfect Gua Sha massage tool for athletic individuals who need quick, efficient healing of sore muscles.

However, it can also be used for different kinds of pain and it is the perfect mobile massage tool for individuals who travel a lot and like to carry their medicine along.

Last update on 2023-04-01 at 04:25 / Affiliate links / Images from Amazon Product Advertising API / More info

2-in-1 Gua Sha Massage Tool

Sidekick Curve Muscle Scraper - 2-in-1 Gua Sha Massage Tool w/Oasis Emollient Gel - Heavy Stone...

This massage tool is perfect for treating pain and improving mobility. Perhaps best suited for middle aged or elderly individuals who need a top-notch, yet easy to use tool. The 2-in-1 is made out of Bian Stone, which means it’s a little heavier than most Gua Sha massage tools and therefore not a lot of pressure is needed to apply it to painful or sore areas of the body.

Physical therapists and surgeons often recommend this massage tool to their patients, especially to those who have recently went under the knife and need to treat their body with something special in order to rejuvenate their muscles and speed up the recovery process.

Sidekick Curve Muscle Scraper - 2-in-1 Gua Sha Massage Tool w/Oasis Emollient Gel - Heavy Stone...
  • Multi stimulus stripes and ergonomic design.
  • Premium Medical Grade Silicone, Nonpoisonous and No smell.
  • Rechargeable USB rapid charging and IPX7 Waterproof.

Last update on 2023-04-01 at 00:52 / Affiliate links / Images from Amazon Product Advertising API / More info

Give Yourself a Chance –  Now is The Perfect Time for Healing

The fact that Gua Sha massage is becoming increasingly popular in the Western world means that we are slowly embracing the Eastern culture with an open mind and letting the infinite wisdom of ancient cultures and our ancestors aid us in handling the negativity the modern way of living inevitably brings.

Not only are we opening our eyes to new healing methods and traditional therapy, we are also learning to accept the fact that modern medicine and pharmacy doesn’t have answers to all of our problems. Sometimes, it’s best to look into the past to learn a thing or two about the present and ourselves.

Gua Sha therapy is not only a healing method or a massage technique, it is ancient wisdom condensed and neatly packaged for us to use in order to make our lives better, bodies healthier and spirits cleansed.

Author: Mary Lou
In the Before Times, Maru spent vacations traveling and making stops at showrooms to test the latest massage chair models. Nowadays, she’s hunkered down in her small sunlit home dotted with her ever-growing collection of fiddle fig trees, indoor plants, and Himalayan salt lamps. Find her at LinkedIn.