I’ve always been enamoured with bright green jade bracelets and talismans. In my culture, it is common to gift loved ones jade that relatives past and present have cloaked in protections and good fortune. I was gifted some as a child, and every once in a while my mother would retrieve the box she had hidden away so that I could hold some of the pieces. Feeling their weight and energy in my tiny hands, I dreamed of the day I would be old enough to inherit them and continue our family tradition.
When I began studying Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM), I once again encountered this natural mineral in the practice of Gua Sha. Pronounced “Gwa-Sha,” the literal translation of the technique that originated 2000 years ago in China means ‘to scrape sand’. It refers to using tools made mostly out of different types of stone believed to have cooling or tonifying effects on the body.
The movement of applying pressure and spooning the skin expresses pathogens from muscle tissue by moving them out of the body in the form of ‘Sha’. Sha refers to the little red dots that appear when scraping the skin through Gua Sha.
The practice balances both the qi or chi energies in the body to help with healing, muscle relaxation and tonifying.
Prized as a royal gem in Chinese culture, jade is often used in TCM because of its natural ability to conduct negative ions and infrared, which helps to tonify and strengthen the body. Other commonly used stones are Bian stone—known as the precursor tool to acupuncture needles. Bian stone is said to contain more that 40 minerals and emit negative ions. Rose quartz is also used for its heart-healing capabilities.
It wasn’t until the Ming Dynasty (around 700 years ago), that medical texts started to mention Gua Sha for the face. They noticed that using stone tools while pressing on acupuncture points on the face helped make wrinkles disappear. Soonafter, Gua Sha facial massage became popular among royalty.
A different approach from Gua Sha on the body, facial Gua Sha removes stagnant qi and lymph fluid from facial and neck muscle tissues that can otherwise contribute to wrinkling of the skin over time. This process reveals a glowing complexion while it lifts and tones facial muscles.
Suka Lang is a Registered Acupuncturist and the owner of Acupoint Wellness. She is one of those wellness practitioners that you wish you could bring everywhere with you. She is a born healer: intuitive, knowledgeable and strong. You feel instantly calmed in her presence. Her compassion, empathy and continual strive for excellence are what makes Acupoint Wellness a go-to place for acupuncture in downtown Vancouver.
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