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Gua Sha - Traditional Chinese Massage Techniques and Treatments



If you're battling a cold, and like all mankind, hate going to the doctor, perhaps you could see what traditional Chinese massage could do for you.

In Polly Evan’s book, Fried Eggs with Chopsticks (a good read for anyone thinking of traveling on his or her own in China), she starts her trip in Beijing with a nasty bug. She gets rid of it by Gua Sha. According to Ms. Evans, her back was tender but her cold was gone by the next day. That’s not too bad for a half hour of torture, er, treatment.


Scraping of the back and other areas to release blocked Qi (energy) and to cure other illnesses. Gua means “to scrape” and Sha means “red skin rash” (in other words, the result of the Gua).


Gua Sha is used to cure the common cold, flu, bronchitis, asthma, headaches, fevers, chills, cough, abdominal complaints, diarrhea, as well as chronic disorders involving pain and blocked Qi.


The practitioner uses a section of cow horn or a wooden scraper to scrape the back, neck, buttocks and limbs. Oil is used as a lubricant on the skin to lessen the pain of the scraping.

What Does It Feel Like?:

It must not feel too bad since it’s been used as a cure for common ailments since Yuan Dynasty (1279-1368AD) times... I’ve heard varying tales from “excruciating” to “not all that bad”. The results are said to be quick and sure, however. So if you’re suffering from a bad cold and want to try a traditional cure while you’re traveling, Gua Sha might just do the trick. I, hover, have not yet been bold enough to try it.

Where to Get the Treatment:

Traditional Chinese medical and massage clinics offer Gua Sha. Ask your hotel concierge where you might be able to have the treatment while you’re in China. Some hotel spas may even offer it.

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