Is Gua Sha Really Beneficial or Bogus?

You may have seen beauty bloggers and wellness enthusiast alike using this funny looking tool to help tone and promote blood circulation in their skin, but is Gua Sha really as effective as they claim it to be?

Despite its recent surge in popularity, gua sha has been used for over hundreds of years in ancient Chinese medicine to help relieve pain and tension, but some would even say that the benefits of using the gua sha tool go far beyond toning your face.

What Is Gua Sha?

Gua sha is an alternative massage therapy that involves scraping your skin with a massage tool to improve your circulation. This ancient Chinese healing technique may offer a unique approach to better health, addressing issues like chronic pain.

This tool is used to target stagnant energy, called chi or qi, in the body that practitioners believe contributes to inflammation. Inflammation is the underlying cause of a myriad of health conditions associated with chronic pain. Rubbing the skin’s surface has been claimed to help break up this energy, promote healing and reduce inflammation.

When using gua sha, a practitioner applies massage oil to your skin and then uses the tool to repeatedly scrape your skin in a downward motion. They make these strokes with a smooth-edged instrument known as a gua massage tool. The practitioner scrapes your skin with short or long strokes to stimulate the microcirculation of the soft tissue, which increases blood flow.

A version of this technique can even be used on the face as a facial technique, but it is less invasive. Gua sha is usually used on a person’s back, neck, buttocks, arms and legs. A practitioner may apply mild pressure and gradually increase the pressure to determine how much force you can handle.

Research even suggests that gua sha may have the ability to relieve a variety of health issues.

Benefits of Gua Sha

Gua sha’s effectiveness has been studied for a while to determine if it’s actually effective. Research has concluded that it may be beneficial for reducing inflammation. It is often used to treat conditions that cause chronic pain, such as arthritis and fibromyalgia, as well as those that can cause muscle and joint pain.
Gua Sha has also been proven beneficial for the following ailments:
  • Migraine headaches
  • Cold symptoms
  • Hepatitis B
  • Back pain
  • Perimenopausal symptoms
  • Tourette syndrome
  • Problems breastfeeding
  • Injury recovery
Gua sha proposes a plethora of benefits, but more studies still need to be conducted on the efficiency of using this tool for inflammation-related conditions. Although this method is a natural therapy, it is accompanied by a few side effects that should be taken into consideration.

Side Effects of Gua Sha

Despite gua sha being an alternative natural pain management therapy, it can cause some side effects. This natural healing remedy shouldn’t cause any pain, but it does cause minor bruising and skin discoloration.

Since it involves rubbing or scraping the skin with a massage tool, small blood vessels known as capillaries near the surface of your skin can burst, which can result in skin bruising and minor bleeding. Bruising usually disappears within a couple of days.

Talk to your doctor or a licensed practitioner if you are considering gua sha to make sure doing so will be the right choice for you.

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Kosin, J. (2017, October 08). The Shockingly Grotesque, Yet Incredible Results of Gua Sha Massage. Retrieved from