Gua Sha

Lisa

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My youngest daughter suffers from back pain. It could be the years of air rifle shooting, volleyball, martial arts or a combination of all of them.

Lately she has been getting massages to help loosen the tight muscles in her back. Her massage therapist suggested a treatment of Gua Sha.

Gua Sha is a form of scraping the skin to release the toxins from the muscles of the body. It is done by repeated pressure strokes over lubricated skin usually with a chinese soup spoon but in my daughters case an animal bone was used.

The effect it has on the skin is shocking to say the least. It leaves the skin red and has a bruising effect but is completely painless. I was rather shocked when I saw it but she said she felt no pain whatsoever.

It has been a full 24 hours since her treatment and she has been completely pain free for the first time in what seems like years. She says she slept last night better then she ever has in months.

I didn't take pictures yesterday but I will next week when she goes for another treatment.

Has anyone else tried this or had any success with this technique?
 

bluemtn

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It's the first time I've ever heard of it, but it sounds interesting... I have a tendancy to carry a lot of tension in my back, especially the shoulders and lower back.
 

Brian King

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Hey Lisa,
Have not heard of the methods you describe (although I have heard of bone polishing by rubbing) but there is a Slavic healing treatment (I have not tried ityet) I have heard about where they put a small glass bottle (about the size of a baby food jar) on various locations of the body open end against the skin and then heat the bottle forming a vacuum inside the bottle. They say that this vacuum pulls the toxins out. Combined with dousing it is supposed to be wonderful.

Hope that your daughter feels better and the treatment heals her aches. Thanks for sharing

Warmest regards
Brian King
 

Carol

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Haven't heard of it until you mentioned it Lisa, but now that you have...I've been reading up on it a bit more. It sounds like a fascinating practice.
 

Empty Hands

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There are no toxins stored in the average person's body. The non-specific use of the term "toxins" is simply snake oil salesmanship. Even if there were, there is a lot of tissue between the muscles and the abraded skin that would prevent this from happening.

That said, the technique could work for a variety of reasons ranging from the placebo effect to what amounts to a massage. Just don't pay too much for it.
 

Xue Sheng

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There are no toxins stored in the average person's body. The non-specific use of the term "toxins" is simply snake oil salesmanship. Even if there were, there is a lot of tissue between the muscles and the abraded skin that would prevent this from happening.

That said, the technique could work for a variety of reasons ranging from the placebo effect to what amounts to a massage. Just don't pay too much for it.

Not defending or explaining Gua Sha, I know nothing about it, but the average human body does produce toxins.

toxin
A poisonous substance, especially a protein, that is produced by living cells or organisms and is capable of causing disease when introduced into the body tissues but is often also capable of inducing neutralizing antibodies or antitoxins.

toxin
a poisonous substance produced during the metabolism and growth of certain microorganisms and some higher plant and animal species

toxin
A poisonous substance, especially one produced by a living organism. Toxins can be products or byproducts of ordinary metabolism, such as lactic acid, and they must be broken down or excreted before building up to dangerous levels. Toxins can facilitate survival, as with snake venom that kills or immobilizes prey, or cyanide produced by some plants as a defense against being eaten. Bacterial toxins can sometimes be neutralized with antitoxins
 

Kembudo-Kai Kempoka

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Gua sha is commonly used in the Vietnamese community to address muscle aches and pains. That gnarly bruising led to an "increased awareness of folk healing methods from other cultures" campaign in the Southern California schools, due to the large expatriot vietnamese community down there...and child abuse allegations brought by teachers against parents who used it to benefit their children. Teacher would see large speckeld bruises on the kids, ask, "Where'd you get that?", and the kid would answer, "My Mommy/Daddy/Grandma/Grandpa gave it to me for complaining about back pain".

The bruises from gua sha can be pretty funky, so you can imagine that teachers immediately assumed an act of hostility by the parent, rather than folk healing. Commonly used in addition to spoon or bone is a gold coin, without ridges along the rim. Some of the vietnamese have complained about having a hard time finding such a coin among American currency.

D.

PS -- Blood flow and chi flow are often treated as the same thing, though differences prevail by definition. Typically, anything increasing blood flow, also breaks up stagmant chi...a common bad guy to myalgia in TCM.
 

Kembudo-Kai Kempoka

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There are no toxins stored in the average person's body. The non-specific use of the term "toxins" is simply snake oil salesmanship. Even if there were, there is a lot of tissue between the muscles and the abraded skin that would prevent this from happening.

That said, the technique could work for a variety of reasons ranging from the placebo effect to what amounts to a massage. Just don't pay too much for it.

Wow. You should really look into the World Health Organizations publications on stored contents of the average liver, bodyfat, and brain tissue. Lead, mercury, arsenic, asundry heavy metals and organic/inorganic compounds, toxic organic compounds that the liver is unable to break down, so it sequesters them; unutilized or excreted spent hormones and prohormones, collecting in the tissues because the current diets lack the micronutrients needed to modify them for expulsion (have dropped out of the processed food supply)...Not to mention the absolutely freakin thick stacks of peer reviewed, published articles from medical journals on the issues of environmental toxicities and links to disease, food toxicities and links to disease, gastrointestinal tract putrefaction (diminished enzyme content, secondary to them attaching themselves to undigestible protiens from processed foods, then riding the food all the way out of the body like a pitbull on a bone, depleting the available enzyme and flora/fauna content of the gut, leading to the buildup of stuff that should get broken down but doesn't) and links to a number of health disorders (due to increased TOXICITY of the bloodstream in light of improper elimination through the GI tract), GMO's and their links to hypersensitized immune reactions and blood borne pathogen vitality/immune defense capacity of infected peoples, ... Dude. Before machen sie mit der sweeping statements, do your homework.

Grain foods and systemic acidity issues, related to increases in markers for heart disease, diabetes (you know...the disease where blood sugar itself becomes toxic to the cells in the biological terrain, making it a, um, toxin). Lactic acid...in small doses, a necessary participant in critical cellular energy pathways. In excess amounts, burns holes out through the skin of polio patients, causing severe pain and muscle cramping. That would be toxic, no? Or...denatured competitors for serotonin site receptors in the brain, preventing "fresh" brain hormones from attaching to the cells and activating them...suicide brains chopped open show an absolute buttload of serotonin IN the brain, but NOT inside the cell walls or cytoplasm...plenty (more, in fact) being made, just not being used. This makes the old, denatured/used/inactive, competing serotonin a, um, toxin. Or the role of the liver in modifying exogenous and endogenous toxins for excretion...and how it's an imperfect process, particularly for hallide compounds with affinities for fat, so they store in subQ or brain tissues?

But don't take my word for it. Call up some infectious or chronic disease MD gurus, and ask them about the role of "toxins" in the genesis of chronic disease states. While you're at it, remind them that they are selling snake oil when using oral or venous chelation to eliminate toxins from their patients, and that their before-and-after blood tests are merely placebo effects, projected onto paper. (I hate it when those quacks pull that sort of thing).
 

Empty Hands

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Not defending or explaining Gua Sha, I know nothing about it, but the average human body does produce toxins.

The operative words were "average" and "stored". Some people with specific conditions or exposures will accumulate toxic compounds, such as people with metabolic genetic disorders or those exposed to large amounts of heavy metals. For everyone else though, it isn't a concern. And abrading the skin would still not cause any such compounds to diffuse through centimeters of intervening tissue and out of the body. Detoxifying treatments such as chelators are all given internally.

I'm sorry that it irks some, but the non-specific use of the word "toxin" is a common way to sell snake oil. Both gua sha and the vacuum technique described by another poster could not possibly work the way they claim, and generally, these multifarious "toxins" are neither identified nor explained. This is used to sell everything from colonics to grapefruit juice "cleanses" that all have no reasonable mechanism.
 
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Lisa

Lisa

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I agree with a lot that Empty Hands is stating.

I am not sure that the Gua sha is truly removing toxins from her body. Actually, I am not sure I believe in any of those kinds of methods actually. I remember once I took her to a chiropractor who proceeded to "pick" the pain out of her neck and throw it away. I thought the guy was a looney bin and never took her back again.

That being said however, if this Gua Sha technique continues to give her the pain relief that she has had since the technique was performed then I am all for it. It could be psychological, it could actually finally loosen up the tight mucles in her shoulders in her neck and have some actual physical benefits. I am not sure and at this point, don't really care as long as she is getting some relief from the pain she has been feeling in her back for the past year or two.
 

Empty Hands

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Wow. You should really look into....

Please read my statement again, paying special attention to the words "average" and "stored." Obviously, if you have phenylketonuria or have been exposed to fabulous amounts of lead, then you have a toxin problem. Most people aren't exposed to huge amounts of heavy metal or have a genetic metabolic disease however. I would also note that even if you did, abrading the skin won't cause that problem to go away.

The unattributed and unexplained invocation of "toxins" as a cause for everything from weight gain to hair loss and the selfsame treatment of same with everything from grapefruit juice to skin abrasion is a snakeoil technique. To somehow conclude from my statment then that all toxic therapies such as chelation are snake oil is unsupportable.
 

Kembudo-Kai Kempoka

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Please read my statement again, paying special attention to the words "average" and "stored." Obviously, if you have phenylketonuria or have been exposed to fabulous amounts of lead, then you have a toxin problem. Most people aren't exposed to huge amounts of heavy metal or have a genetic metabolic disease however. I would also note that even if you did, abrading the skin won't cause that problem to go away.

The unattributed and unexplained invocation of "toxins" as a cause for everything from weight gain to hair loss and the selfsame treatment of same with everything from grapefruit juice to skin abrasion is a snakeoil technique. To somehow conclude from my statment then that all toxic therapies such as chelation are snake oil is unsupportable.

Point taken; I stand corrected.
 

Kembudo-Kai Kempoka

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A common denominator to muscle pain is diminished blood flow. This focal hypoxia is what is addressed by COX 1 and 2 inhibitors (aspirin, advil), as well as by physiotherapeutic modalities such as a heat pack, muscle stim (imbibition of tissues; increases in blood perfusion, and with it excretion of lactic acid and inflammatory peptides resident in the focal lesion), and so on.

Gua sha stimulates blood flow, by a simple method: Microtrauma. A corollary in Western Medicine might be dry needling a trigger point. Effleurage and deep tissue massage also work by many of the same mechanisms.

D.
 

Kembudo-Kai Kempoka

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I agree with a lot that Empty Hands is stating.

I am not sure that the Gua sha is truly removing toxins from her body. Actually, I am not sure I believe in any of those kinds of methods actually. I remember once I took her to a chiropractor who proceeded to "pick" the pain out of her neck and throw it away. I thought the guy was a looney bin and never took her back again.

That being said however, if this Gua Sha technique continues to give her the pain relief that she has had since the technique was performed then I am all for it. It could be psychological, it could actually finally loosen up the tight mucles in her shoulders in her neck and have some actual physical benefits. I am not sure and at this point, don't really care as long as she is getting some relief from the pain she has been feeling in her back for the past year or two.

I hate my industry. As a chiro, I've constantly got my head in either textbooks (recent editions), medical journals, etc., and work to network with local MD's and improve the standing of chiro's in the healthcare community. And all it takes is one guy like this, picking the pain out, and we're screwed.

I wouldn't even try to slow the car down if he stepped in front of it.
 

Empty Hands

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As a chiro, I've constantly got my head in either textbooks (recent editions), medical journals, etc., and work to network with local MD's and improve the standing of chiro's in the healthcare community.

That is good to hear.

As a chiro, where do you stand on Palmer's notion that subluxations are the cause of all or nearly all disease?
 

Xue Sheng

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The operative words were "average" and "stored". Some people with specific conditions or exposures will accumulate toxic compounds, such as people with metabolic genetic disorders or those exposed to large amounts of heavy metals. For everyone else though, it isn't a concern. And abrading the skin would still not cause any such compounds to diffuse through centimeters of intervening tissue and out of the body. Detoxifying treatments such as chelators are all given internally.

I'm sorry that it irks some, but the non-specific use of the word "toxin" is a common way to sell snake oil. Both gua sha and the vacuum technique described by another poster could not possibly work the way they claim, and generally, these multifarious "toxins" are neither identified nor explained. This is used to sell everything from colonics to grapefruit juice "cleanses" that all have no reasonable mechanism.

Actually I am not irked in the least, you sound as if you might be however, if so sorry. As I said I know nothing about Gua Sha. As to toxin I will give you "average" and "stored" bits.

But in an attempt to avoid our usual post war on topics like this I will sum up

You feel all things not western medicine or science are bunk. I feel you are wrong in some cases. You feel I am...well... wrong (at best). We do not and likely will not ever agree on these types of topics so why waste time arguing.

I can say with complete certainly that our discussions on such topics are best described by an old Chinese idiom

"du穫 ni繳 t獺n q穩n" - "playing the lute to a cow" and I have no problem being the cow if you wish.

However you really should look at some of the stuff the WHO has studied it may help, it may not, and I am leaning towards not actually. As to what they say about Gua Sha I do not know I know nothing about it.

And lastly; Terminology is not always to be taken literally in these things however, sometimes it is, sometimes it isn't. Some of these things are rather old and have thier own way of describing things. Just becuae I say a form is called white crane spreads its wings does not mean I think I'm a crane.

I'm done, I wish you the best.
 

Empty Hands

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Actually I am not irked in the least, you sound as if you might be however, if so sorry.

Sorry, I wasn't directing that comment at you, but I didn't make that clear. I'm not irked, and I didn't think you were either. It was a general comment.

As for the rest, I will defer to you. I would note though that I never said gua sha wouldn't work, I specifically said that it might. I don't know anything about it either and have not read any studies that examine it. I do know however that it cannot possibly work by the mechanism proposed.
 

Kembudo-Kai Kempoka

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That is good to hear.

As a chiro, where do you stand on Palmer's notion that subluxations are the cause of all or nearly all disease?

I think when all you have is a hammer...

It's more a representation of his limitations in scope, than a realistic representation of any objective, pathogenic entity. Too many factors for it to not be just one more thing in a string of stuff. I think illness and intersegmental dysfunction run in packs, but are correlative, not causal...that a body in various states of decomposition against gravity and stress loses the ability to manage stressors well, internalizes said stressors into a variety of patterns, and that these patterns can manifest as tensions in and around the PVM, causing fixation or migration of spinal segments. Left unaddressed, these can lead to compromised function, which in turn can affect health, but not the way Palmer pushed it. If you're stressed out, and it manifests as back pain, are you more or less likely to go and train, giving your body the exercise it needs to maintain vitality? Diminished exercise habits are statistically associated with increases in risk factors for all three of the top 3 killers in the US.

Got patients that show "subluxations" with the onset of new stressors. I can crack them till the sun burns out, and it just keeps coming back. Once the stressor passes, or they come to terms with coping strategies around managing it, the recurrant pattern of NMS tensions shifts, and they miraculously get better. Stress kills. No kidding.

Personally, I veer towards health being the direct effect of the foods we eat, the thoughts we think, and the movement that we give our bodies. Get these three nailed down, and you can fire your doctors. Including the chiro's.
 

Chris from CT

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I use Gua Sha in my prcatice quite frequently. I am not of the mindset of releasing toxins when I am using the technique.

From a TCM (Traditional Chinese Medicine) standpoint... stagnation of Qi or Blood within the body can physically manifest in many ways, such as illness and of course "pain." What the Gua Sha does in this situation is removes the stagnation by bringing it up to the surface so the body can get rid of it on its own. That stagnation comes up in the form of red petechia and forms echymotic patches which look like a bruise or a "hickey." It can look pretty bad depending on how much stagnation is there, but it does not cause pain. The difference between a traumatic bruise and what the Gua Sha brings up is... a traumatic bruise will last for quite some time, a couple of weeks in some cases. On the other hand with Gua Sha, it usually lasts for about 4 days depending on how well a person's circulation is.

From a basic western viewpoint, Gua Sha increases Blood in and out of the area and stimulates the musculature thereby easing the pain from tight, constricted muscles. Kind of like a deep tissue massage on steroids. :) It's no wonder people see relief right after treatment, especially with limited range of motion problems. I have some patients that specifically request Gua Sha because of the benefit they get from it.

For more information on Gua Sha check out one of my teacher's websites at... http://www.guasha.com

I hope this helps.
Take care
 
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