One of the best things about the Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM) practice of gua sha or scraping therapy is that just about anyone can do it.
All you need is a gua sha tool or scraper that can be bought from medicinal halls or shops that carry TCM supplies in the Chinatown area. A general knowledge of how to use gua sha and what are the areas that can be scraped is sufficient for most people to get started.
TCM physician Mdm Tay Ai Choo, who conducts TCM courses at Fei Yue Family Central, shares with AsiaOne Health some dos and don'ts of of this ancient form of therapy.
- Use medicinal oil on the body and limbs to facilitate scraping. However, it is not necessary to apply the oil to the head.
- Gua sha strokes should be firm in pressure and even in speed. However, do not scrape with too much force to prevent injury to the skin.
- Each stroke should be about four to five inches long, repeated 10 – 30 times, or until the skin is slightly warm.
- Scrape in a downward motion, or outward from the centre of the body.
- Drink a glass of warm water after a gua sha session to help the body dispel toxins.
- Avoid using a back-and-forth movement.
- Avoid using coins or plastic tools as scrapers. They may hurt your skin.
- Do not scrape on bony areas of the body, e.g. directly above the spine.
- Do not perform gua sha when there is a fan or air-conditioner blowing directly at you; cover up the scraped area immediately with a towel to avoid catching a chill.
- If sha appears, allow for it to subside (2-4 days) before you scrape the same area again.
When not to use gua sha
While scraping therapy can be used by most people, avoid it if you have any of the following conditions:
- Recent fractures, surgical scars or wounds on the skin
- Contagious skin diseases
- Lumps in the body of unknown cause
For those interested in trying out this ancient therapy method, the following diagrams provide a guide to common areas that can be scraped for health and wellbeing.
For more information on upcoming TCM courses organised by Fei Yue Family Central, contact Caleb Xu at 6376 3560 (for courses conducted in Mandarin) or Sam How (English language classes) at 6376 3562.