Origin of Gua Sha

Gua Sha is popular in Europe. European beauticians develop Gua Sha to a method of cosmetology.

Traditionally Gua Sha is used as a folk therapy. For a long time, it was just an occasional simple method for first aid. The history of specialized books about Gua Sha is not over four hundred years.
The practice of Gua Sha may be traced back to the early times of the Western Han Dynasty. According to an unearthed book which was written before 168 BC and was called “Recipes for 52 Diseases”, at that time for treating infantile convulsion, people used a ladle to scrape the skin of the baby after praying.

The syndrome “Sha” was firstly recorded in the 13th century. In the Ming Dynasty which was from the 14th century to the 17th century, there were some records about the methods of Gua Sha. Generally speaking, the concept of „Sha” is that pathogenic factors stay inside the body and the protective Yang-Qi cannot run smoothly. Scraping the skin is a method to drive the Yang-Qi and expel the pathogenic-Qi.

Zhang Jingyue, a famous therapist of traditional Chinese medicine in the Ming Dyansty, recorded his practice of Gua Sha for treating an acute case. In a cold day his wife got wet in a heavy rain. In late night of the day, she felt nausea and suffered from colic pain of chest and abdomen. She couldn’t speak or drink herbal decoction. Zhang Jingyue picked up a smooth porcelain bowl with a narrow mouth. He prepared a lot of hot water and put one or two spoons of sesame oil into the water. He put the mouth of the bowl into the water mixed with the oil for warming the bowl and making it smoother. He then put the mouth of the bowl on the center of the upper back of his wife. He held the bowl by two hands, and scraped the back of her wife downwards. The pressure was gradually from light to heavy. When the bowl became cold and dry, he put the bowl mouth to the hot water again. After a lot of time, his wife felt that the pain of her chest had some relief and she could speak. For a while there were big sounds from her abdomen. After getting rid of a lot of liquid excrement, her pain was then relieved so that she could sleep.

Zhang Jingyue explained how the method works. The back connects with five internal organs. When scraping the back from top to bottom, the pathogenic-Qi moves downwards. At that time, there was a popular method which was to scrape two arms for treating the pain of “Sha”. However, in the opinion of Zhang Jingyue, for using an external therapy to treat acute pain caused by the pathogenic-Qi invading the body deeply, the only way is treating the back.

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