top of page
gua sha hertfordshire
Gua Sha.


Did you know that sometimes we don't even have to use needles?  Apart from needles, gua sha (or scraping massage) is often the modality that people may recognise about acupuncture. In recent years the use of gua sha tools and jade rollers, for the face, have become quite common.


Used for activating blood circulation, promoting skin's regeneration, improving lymphatic drainage and reducing puffiness and wrinkles, gua sha is a wonderful tool that you can use yourself.


This page is going to be about gua sha, its history and why I use it in acupuncture treatment.

The history of gua sha

Historically and traditionally gua sha is used to scrape away illness. Tools such as jade or ox horn were used with a lubricant to scrape and rub parts of the patient's skin repeatedly in one direction. The aim is to "activate blood circulation to dissipate blood stasis".


Historical records on gua sha go back to the Paleolithic Age. When people fell sick or became unconscious, hands or stones were used to rub parts of their body to help alleviate the symptoms of the disease. Gua sha has long been a folk therapy widely used by the ancient Chinese. In the Ming Dynasty (1368-1644), the treatment was systematically written into major medical records.

Gua sha: when does your acupuncturist use it?

Gua sha is effective for both acute and chronic conditions as it helps to move Qi, Blood and body fluids stagnated by obesity, lack of exercise, chronic injuries and unresolved emotional issues

In an acupuncture appointment, I would use gua sha for:

  • Muscle and tendon injuries, muscle knots

  • Tension, stiffness, pain, immobility

  • Headaches or migraines

  • Poor circulation of blood and/or lymph

  • Acute illnesses such as colds, flu, hay fever & bronchitis


Gua sha can be used up to three times per week for acute conditions; with chronic conditions, it is best used weekly. The severity of the sha marks diminishes as the problem improves until it is impossible to raise any more noticeable sha.

What is the 'sha' in gua sha?

In a traditional Chinese medicine treatment, the colour of the sha is indicative. It helps your acupuncturist to diagnose your underlying conditions and gives us more information, such as history and depth of trauma.


Below is a very simple diagram of what the colours can show your acupuncturist:

  • Pale pink sha: may indicate blood deficiency.  This may mean that the area is more of a dull ache, better for pressure and better for resting.

  • Bright red: indicates blood stasis.  This may mean that the area has a sharp strong pain.  May be better for gentle movement.

  • Dark red: indicates heat.  May mean the area is better for having a cold compress applied to it.  

  • Brown: may indicate blood dryness.  This tends to be when the area has historically been troubled with pain.

  • Purple: indicates long-standing blood stasis.  This will also have historical pain.


The sha that is created can last for 7 days, and I will always ask consent before a gua sha treatment. As an example, I have included a photo and video of both during and after. Excuse the 10-year-old fleece onesie!


It is important to note that the area which has been gua sha'd should be kept covered for the first 24 hours, as this open skin could be open to cold, wind or dampness.


How does gua sha work?

  • Stimulates blood circulation and helps to clear metabolic waste congestion in the tissues and muscles.

  • It forces blood out of the tiny capillaries, allowing new blood to flow in.

  • Highlights areas of stagnation and the practitioner are then able to focus treatment in those areas. Sha is raised primarily on the Yang surfaces of the body: the back, neck, shoulders, buttocks, and limbs. On occasions, however, Gua Sha can be applied to the front of the neck, the chest and the abdomen

Gua sha at home

  • Apply oil to the area to be treated

  • Using the gua sha tool firmly stroke over the skin along with either a muscle or an acupuncture meridian. A light-pressured stroke should be applied first, followed by heavier strokes where necessary. Each stroke should be about four to six inches long. After each stroke, the practitioner’s free hand should wipe the oil back onto the area being worked on. The gua aha tool should be held at a thirty-degree angle to the skin with the smooth edge touching

  • You should not feel pain, although may experience some discomfort.

  • Always work away from the posterior midline at the base of the neck in the depression below the spinous process of C7. This means that strokes onto the neck travel in an upward direction to avoid compressing the spaces between the cervical vertebrae, whilst those on the back travel downwards and outwards.

  • If there are any moles, cuts or unhealed areas they should be covered with your fingers to avoid damaging them

If you are interested in buying gua sha tools:


  • if you are based in the US, I can highly recommend Yang Face for purchasing your gua sha tools

  • If you are based in the UK, I would recommend Hayo'u Method

  • I use oil from Child's Farm to act as the lubricant. And as you can see I actually use a jam jar lid as my tool. Which is very effective!

bottom of page