Gua Sha / Cupping

TCM Background:

In traditional Chinese Medicine raising ‘Sha’ by cupping or Gua Sha removes blood stagnation . Sha is considered pathogenic, its removal promotes normal circulation and metabolic processes.

Originally these were ‘folk’ treaments handed down in long tradition and where used to give relief from pain, stiffness, fever, chill, cough, nausea, and so on.

Gua Sha or cupping were considered valuable in the prevention and treatment of acute infectious illness, upper respiratory and digestive problems, and many other acute or chronic disorders. Modern research suggests that Gua Sha has an anti-inflammatory effect which could explain its success (Ref Arya Neilson

Cupping is an ancient oriental therapy

Gua Sha and Cupping are both healing techniques used in China and Japan by practitioners of Traditional Chinese Medicine, in both the clinical setting and in homes, but little known in the West , especially of Gua Sha. Both techniques can leave a ‘bruised’ appearance to the skin.

Gua Sha involves palpation and stimulation where the skin is first lubricated and then pressured/ rubbed, in strokes, by a round-edged instrument; that results in the appearance of small red petechiae called ‘sha’, that will fade in a few days. The Sha – a word often interpreted as blood and qi stagnation- is raised to the surface where it dissipates. This allows true qi to flow and , in my experience, relieves muscular aches and pains quite well.

Chinese cupping therapy

After Gua Sha or Cupping treatment the patient is advised to keep the area protected from wind, cold and direct sun until the sha fades. They are also encouraged to drink plenty of water and eat moderately (Ref Arya Neilson).

For more info / images visit

More images of Gua Sha / Cupping just ‘Google’ images. Some are quite startling but not as painful as they look, in fact the sensation can be relaxing and gives a sense of relief.

Cupping involves the use of glass, bamboo or plastic ‘cups’ on the skin after some of the air has been removed to exert a suction. In traditional Chinese medicine this is used to remove pathogens or stagnation from the body in a similar way to Gua Sha. In skilled hands it can also be used to tonify meridians and Qi using a technique called Flash Cupping in which the cups are retained for only short periods of time. Sliding Cupping works in a similar way to Gua Sha.