Gua Sha is an East Asian treatment which generally uses quite a vigorous rubbing/scraping technique. It is mainly used in China on the patient’s back, for detoxification purposes or for various sprains and injuries throughout the body. (Adkins 2013, p.133) Gua means ‘to scrape or scratch’ and Sha is the resulting redness or rash (Nielsen 1995, p.43).
The facial version that we use in a Facial Enhancement Acupuncture treatment requires extreme care, as the skin on the face is far more delicate. Used in this way, it is a lovely relaxing part of the treatment that can be used across the cheeks, around the eyes, on the forehead, the nasal labial fold and the fine lines around the mouth. (Adkins 2013, p.133)
A 2007 study: “The effect of Gua Sha treatment on the microcirculation of surface tissue: A pilot study in healthy subjects,” was conducted by the Department of Nephrology, Unit of Circulation Research, University Hospital of Essen, Germany.
In part, researchers aimed to discover the microcirculatory effects of Gua Sha on the skin:
“Gua Sha caused a fourfold increase in microcirculation PUs at the treated area for the first 7.5 minutes following treatment and a significant increase in surface microcirculation during the entire 25 minutes of the study period following treatment (P < .001).”
This study shows that Gua Sha increases microcirculation to the treated area. But how does that relate to Facial Enhncement Acupuncture (FEA)? We know from studies, such as that by Bentov and May, that decreased microcirculation is related to the ageing process of the skin:
“Aging is associated with dramatic changes in the anatomy and function of the microcirculation.” (Bentov, I. and Reed, M. J. 2015)
When we use Gua Sha in an FEA treatment, we are “aiming to get the energy moving in the face…” (Adkins, P. 2013, p.137) You will find that, with only very mild rubbing, the skin may redden. That is the Sha appearing and this will settle down within a couple of minutes. (Adkins, P. 2013, p.137)
Therefore, adding some Gua Sha into our daily facial routines, and including it, as we do in a Facial Enhancement Acupuncture treatment, can help to improve microcirculation – thereby reducing the signs of ageing in the skin.
Paul Adkins Lic.Ac. BA(Hons) FEA, MBAcC, MCAUK
Adkins, P. (2013) Facial Enhancement Acupuncture: Clinical Use and Application. London: Singing Dragon
Bentov, I. and Reed, M.J. (2015) ‘The Effect of Aging on the Cutaneous Microvasculature.’ Microvascular Research 100, 25-31
Nielsen, A. (1995) Gua Sha: A Traditional Technique for Modern Practice. Edinburgh: Churchill Livingstone.
Nielsen, A., Knoblauch, N.T.M., Dobos G.J., Michalsen, A. and Kaptchuk, T.J. (2007) ‘The effect of Gua Sha treatment on the microcirculation of surface tissue: a pilot study in healthy subjects.’ Explore 3, 5, 456-466.