Whenever there is a new visitor to the practice, I try to mention that there are four basic “tools” an acupuncturist usually uses to help the patient meet his or her health goals. Herbal medicine, nutrition advice (reflecting traditional Chinese medicine concepts), exercise recommendations (also reflecting the TCM health perspective) and of course acupuncture itself make up the four tools. By now just about everyone has heard about acupuncture needles. They are usually what a patient will experience during an office visit. Needles activate a patient’s energy- the thing acupuncturists call qi (chee) in Chinese or ki (key) in Japanese. In reality, the needles are only one way of accomplishing this. Some acupuncturists never use needles in their practice. Other qi-manipulating tools include tuning forks, lasers, machines that deliver small electrical charges, moxabustion (discussed here), cupping (discussed here), and today’s highlighted tool: gua sha.
Gua sha translates as scraping/scratching to dispel disease. It’s a technique employing a smooth-edged tool such as the water buffalo horn gua sha tools in the picture to the upper right or often a Chinese soup spoon. Gua sha works by applying pressured strokes to oiled or non-oiled skin over acupuncture points, meridians or areas of the body to bring about change.
Ask for it at your next visit!