Channel scrubbing (or gua sha in Chinese) is one of the therapeutic techniques frequently used in Chinese medicine. It originated as a folk medicinal technique and first documented use was in 1337. The technique is to repeatedly scrape the surface of the skin over specific meridians and acupuncture points in order to unblock the channels and rid the body of pathological causes of disease.
Channel scrubbing very effectively clears stagnant Qi (energy), blood and toxins in the meridians and muscles. In Chinese medicine, the stagnation of Qi, blood and toxins are often the cause of stiffness, sharp or dull pain and lack of movement in the shoulders, neck and limbs. Scrubbing dredges the muscles and meridians very quickly removing the stagnation.
Scraping the skin repeatedly can activate the opening of the pores, increase the passage of a fluid through a specific organ or an area of the body, eg. the tissues, activate blood circulation, activate cells, promote and strengthen discharge of metabolic products and relieve pathological elements and toxins.
The skin has a close relationship with the autonomic nerves, which govern the activities of the internal organs. Scraping the skin can give rise to excitation or inhibition of the nervous system. The favourable changes in local areas after scrubbing can bring about favourable regulatory reactions in the corresponding internal organs.
Scrubbing’s main objective is to strengthen the overall regulation and control function of the meridians and increase the body’s immunity. It can therefore be used not only to treat local disorders but also various diseases affecting large parts of the body. It can strengthen the body’s constitution and play a role in the prevention of illness.
Again, it has a very quick effect on painful disorders, such as stiff necks, acute back pain, etc. Scrubbing can provide immediate relief to painful and stiff areas of the body. From a Chinese medicine perspective scrubbing helps to dredge the meridians, activate the flow of Qi and blood, invigorate Yang Qi, remove old blood and toxins stuck at the site of trauma, regulate the internal organs and enhance the body’s resistance to disease.