In deciding to incorporate the ritual of Gua Sha into our SuperFeast range, our intention was to expand our capacity to share our own reverence for the Taoist way of life. It is through the appreciation for these ancient healing systems that we respectfully wish to share the wisdom and beauty that they encompass.
The practice of Taoism extends well beyond tonic herbalism and incorporates a range of different methods used to bring the body, mind and Spirit into harmony.
The practice of Gua Sha is one of those methods.
Gua Sha: the practice
Deeply rooted within folk medicine and the healing modalities of the Orient, the Chinese term ‘Gua” 刮 translates as “to scrape” and “Sha” 痧 translates as “sand” or “red, raised, millet-sized rash”. This ‘scraping’ action is performed using a smooth-edged tool, over lubricated skin and can cause ‘bruising’ or petechiae (small red dots) to appear on the skin when the capillaries near the skin’s surface bleed, especially when firm pressure is applied. From a Chinese medicine perspective, this action is used to eliminate internal Heat and stagnation from the body, which can be an indication of disease or disharmony within the organ systems and channels, as well as inflammation of the muscular system.
The primary use for this practice is to promote circulation, supporting the smooth flow of Qi throughout the body which is the foundation of harmonious organ function, vitality and longevity. Used to stimulate lymphatic circulation and immune function, Gua Sha promotes detoxification and can help to release fevers, and reduce the severity of common conditions such as a cold or flu, headache, respiratory conditions and both chronic and acute pain.
Tradition, History & Intention
One of the oldest healing techniques in the world, Gua Sha is a traditional East Asian medicine healing technique that originated during the Ming Dynasty (1368-1644) in China when it was originally translated into medical records. The remedial use of ‘friction’ is weaved into healing systems around the world and is believed to date as far back as the Palaeolithic Age, as a practice that utilised physical touch, stones or household materials to massage the body of someone who had fallen ill, to reduce the severity of their illness and symptoms. A highly revered healing practice, Gua Sha has been passed down for generations in East Asian culture and is an effective tool in multiple healing modalities throughout Asia. Still used today by Traditional Chinese medicine practitioners, Gua Sha is now gaining popularity in the beauty industry.
It is important that we acknowledge and recognise the culture and tradition of this ancient healing practice, that we continue to celebrate the depth and sacredness of its history and honour these rituals with deep reverence and respect.
Facial Gua Sha vs. Body Gua Sha
The direct roots of facial Gua Sha are unknown, as traditional Gua Sha does not differentiate between the body and the face. Traditionally, Gua Sha is performed on a person’s back, buttocks, arms, legs and neck with a firm pressure that results in a form of ‘bruising’ appearing on the skin, indicating disease, stagnation and Heat leaving the body. It can promote circulation and detoxification, hydrate the fascia, relieve tightness and loosen muscle tension and knots. Through a more traditional lens, Gua Sha can resolve Blood stagnation, release Heat, disseminate Fluid and tonify Blood, and is performed by a trained practitioner.
Facial Gua Sha implements similar methods used on the body to promote circulation, lymphatic drainage and cellular regeneration, improve skin elasticity and quality, whilst sculpting and toning the face, helping to reduce fine lines and wrinkles. Facial Gua Sha is a much more gentle practice, as there is less tissue in the face, less pressure is required to promote the circulation of lymphatic fluid, and rather than a ‘scraping’ action, think of it as more of a gentle massage, involving methodical strokes that promote regeneration and healing. Facial Gua Sha was supposedly ‘discovered’ when acupuncturists would work on pressure points in the face during treatment, eventually noticing the rejuvenating benefits that arose when that pressure was applied.
Both facial and body Gua Sha practices can focus on acupressure points around the body, the benefit of applying pressure to specific points on both the body and face can bring harmony to its associated organ, channel and systems within the body.