|Literal meaning||“scraping sha-bruises”|
|This article is part of a series on|
|Alternative and pseudo‑medicine|
Gua sha (Chinese: 刮痧), kerokan or coining, is part of traditional Chinese medicine (TCM). Its practitioners use a tool to scrape people’s skin to cause tissue damage in the belief this has medicinal benefit. Gua sha is sometimes referred to as “scraping”, “spooning” or “coining” by English speakers. The treatment has also been called the descriptive French name, tribo-effleurage.
Alternative medicine researcher Edzard Ernst has opined that clinical trials into gua sha “just show how remarkable placebo-effects can be, particularly if the treatment is exotic, impressive, involves physical touch, is slightly painful and raises high expectations.” Further, Science-Based Medicine has reported that gua sha is a pseudomedicine, without good evidence that it is of any benefit: “It’s bruising from trauma”. As reported by a review article in the Journal of the American Academy of Dermatology, the side effects of gua sha range from minor ones – including dermatitis, burns and hematuria – to rare major ones including cerebral hematoma and severe injuries requiring skin grafts.
Gua sha was transferred to Vietnam from China as cạo gió, and is very popular in Vietnam. This term translates roughly “to scrape wind”, as in Vietnamese culture “catching a cold” or fever is often referred to as trúng gió, “to catch wind”. The origin of this term is the Shang Han Lun, a c. 220 CE Chinese medical text on cold induced disease—as in most Asian countries, China’s medical sciences were a profound influence in Vietnam, especially between the 5th and 7th centuries CE. Cạo gió is an extremely common remedy in Vietnam and for expatriate Vietnamese.
In popular culture
The 2001 movie The Gua Sha Treatment (Chinese: 刮痧; pinyin: guā shā) was made in Hong Kong and showed gua sha. It is a story about cultural conflicts experienced by a Chinese family in the United States.
- Vashi NA, Patzelt N, Wirya S, Maymone MB, Zancanaro P, Kundu RV (2018). “Dermatoses caused by cultural practices: Therapeutic cultural practices”. J Am Acad Dermatol (Review). 79 (1): 1–16. doi:10.1016/j.jaad.2017.06.159. PMID 29908818.
- Crislip C (20 February 2015). “Traditional Chinese Pseudo-Medicine Hodgepodge”. Science-Based Medicine.
- Huard & Wong (1977), p.126. Also cited is a French romanization for the same set of two Chinese characters: koua sha.
- Ernst, Edzard (11 January 2013). “Gua Sha: torture or treatment?”. Edzardernst.com. Edzard Ernst. Archived from the original on 17 February 2019. Retrieved 17 February 2019.
- Needham, J., Celestial Lancets, Cambridge, UK: Cambridge University.
- “EFL Movie Study Guide for: The Gua Sha Treatment”. Krigline.com. Krigline. Archived from the original on 17 February 2019. Retrieved 17 February 2019.
- “The Treatment: User Reviews”. IMDB.com. IMDB. Archived from the original on 17 February 2019. Retrieved 17 February 2019.