There’s More to Gua Sha than Facials!

 

With sparkling crystals and jade stones in hand, beauty gurus want you to invest in gua sha facials. By simply massaging your face with these beautiful gemstones, they claim you can give yourself an all-natural face lift and reduce puffy eyes! 

But how true is this claim? What is gua sha anyway? 

As a company focused on natural approaches to wellness, we investigated the truth about gua sha and its health benefits.  

But before we get into that, let’s start with the basics. 

 

What is Gua Sha? 

Gua sha involves stroking the skin with a smooth-edge, stone tool to increase blood circulation and cell turnover to parts of the body in need of healing. With roots in Chinese acupuncture, gua sha has been used to treat illness for centuries. 

Licensed Acupuncturist Mona Chopra explains that certain pressure points on the spine relate to different organs within the body (1). Using gua sha on these specific spinal points increases blood flow to those areas and activates the immune system to treat a variety of illnesses, including colds and digestive issues.  

Here are three benefits gua sha can have on our overall health! 

 

 

Benefits of Gua Sha 

1. Soothes Pain and Migraines 

Back and neck pain is, unfortunately, common in adults. With the most common workspace being a desk, lack of a proper chair to support your spine may be causing you unnecessary pain and discomfort. Staring at a computer screen for 8 hours a day can also instigate migraines. 

Gua sha has been shown to help decrease normal aches and pains! In a study observing 11 healthcare professionals with “normal” myalgia pain, subjects were scanned 10 times following gua sha treatment every 2.5 minutes. A follow-up scan was taken 2 days later (4). 

Results showed a 400% increase in surface blood circulation to the treated areas 7.5 minutes after gua sha treatment. A significant increase was still present after 25 minutes, with effects lasting for up to 2 days after treatment. Participants reported a decrease and, in some cases, complete resolution of their pain along with a sense of well-being (4). 

 

2. Boosts Immunity & Fights Inflammation 

Getting sick is a drag. Even with a cup of hot tea and cold medicine, we can still feel sick and exhausted. However, researchers at Harvard University have found another tool you can add to your arsenal when fighting a cold!  

When performing studies on mice, researchers found that gua sha treatment helped increase the gene expression of an enzyme called heme oxygenase-1 (HO-1). This enzyme works as an antioxidant, thereby helping the immune system fight off infection (2). Gua sha has also been shown to help reduce fever and inflammatory symptoms (3). 

 

3. Anti-Aging 

Though beauty gurus claim that gua sha can reduce wrinkles and lift the face, we didn’t find any scientific evidence to back this claim.  

However, some point out that the increased blood flow to the face can give dull skin a rosier complexion (5). While one dermatologist noted that performing gua sha under the eyes can move lymphatic fluid stored in undereye bags, thus decreasing puffy eyes (5). 

Though gua sha hasn’t been studied as thoroughly in the United States as it has in China and other East Asian countries, there’s always room for more research to be done on this ancient Chinese practice. 

 

Take-Home Points 

Though gua sha may not give us an all-natural face lift, many people practice it as a form of self-care. Now that you’ve learned about gua sha’s science-backed benefits, we hope this knowledge helps you make sound decisions about your own health and wellness. 

If you’re interested in gua sha, we recommend you seek out a licensed acupuncturist in your area! 

Does your family practice eastern medicine at home? Share your family practices with us @livetrulyfe on Instagram and share your story! 

 

 

References 

  1. Chopra, Mona. What is Gua Sha? Youtube. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=FavN6Es7Ing 
  2. Kwong KK, Kloetzer L, Wong KK et al.  J Vis Exp. 2009. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3149908/ 
  3. Nielsen, Arya. Pacific College of Health and Science. https://www.pacificcollege.edu/news/press-releases/2015/05/05/the-science-of-gua-sha 
  4.  Nielsen A, Knoblauch NTM, Dobos GJ, Michalsen A, Kaptchuk TJ. Explore (NY). 2007;3(5) (October):456-466. https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/17905355/ 
  5. Pai, Deanna. Healthyish. https://www.bonappetit.com/story/what-is-gua-sha-massage