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Gua Sha is a technique that has a similar effect to cupping. Each practice is intended to stimulate the flow of blood, moving the qi in the body's channels to encourage the release of toxins in the body. The gua sha tool is moved over the skin, often leaving marks similar to those left by cupping. These bruise-like marks demonstrate the additional circulation to the area.
Similar to the modern Graston Technique used by physical therapists, chiropractors, and athletic trainers, Gua sha is a traditional medical technique and frequently used by traditional chinese medicine practitioners to break up fascial adhesions and increase blood and oxygen flow to the region.
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What do Studies Say About Gua Sha?
While more studies are required to meet the rigorous requirements of western medical science, Gua Sha has been studied in a number of applications with consistently positive results.
One study of 45 participants showed reduced pain for those with chronic neck pain.
A case study followed a woman suffering from breast fullness after the birth of her child, with positive results for Mom and Baby.
Another study aimed to analyze the effect of Gua Sha treatment on the microcirculation of surface tissue. In short, the study showed that circulation did increase, and that there is an unidentified pain-relieving biomechanism that is stimulated by Gua Sha treatment.
An initial study on the effects of Gua Sha for migraine headaches in a 72 year-old woman over the course of 14 days showed that the patient "highly profited" from treatment. The study recommends further studies be performed to explore the effects of Gua Sha for headaches.
A study with 119 participants followed the effects of Gua Sha on those with Diabetic Neuropathy, concluded that gua sha is effective at "reducing the severity of DPN in a clinically relevant dimension, and at improving other health outcomes in patients with DPN."
Many more studies exist on the effectiveness of Gua Sha an other Traditional Chinese Medicinal Techniques, with more coming out each year as their popularity continues to grow in the Western World. The Eastern World, however has known of these benefits for centuries, if not millenia.