Guasha Therapy

Similar to cupping, but with some important differences, Guasha is a method of using a smooth, hard surface together with an oil to apply a specialized friction to various tissues.

An essential modality for stubborn and severe pain, it will often produce exceptional outcomes, even where other treatments fall short. In combination with acupuncture and cupping, it’s manifold benefits help thousands of patients conquer simple and difficult problems alike.

I often describe Guasha as a sibling or cousin to cupping, as their function in a therapeutic process overlaps quite a bit, and in some cases, the only real rationale for picking one over the other is which tool will work for a particular tissue.

For example, cups stick really well on surfaces like the back, shoulders and hips, but not so well on elbows, wrists or the contours of the neck, especially if there is hair in the area to be treated. For the more bony or contoured areas, guasha really shines because the tool can follow those contours and still provide the pressure to the tissue needed to extract the wastes described in the article on cupping, and stimulate efficient circulation and healing. 

The redness produced by guasha is called petechia, which is in part the squeezing of blood from the vessels, but as noted with cupping, this phenomena stops after guasha has been applied a few times, indicating that it’s not just pushing blood around, or out of the vessels. If it was doing so, you would expect that the vessels would get more “leaky” with repeated pressure, and presumably produce more colour over time. However, in practice the opposite is true, the colour gets less and less. So, similar to cupping, my perspective is that Guasha is actually removing retained wastes or stagnant blood from the tissue, which is why there is less and less with repeated treatment. 

It has been noted that the petechia contains heme oxygenase and nitric oxide, which both contribute to enhanced circulation. So in addition to the effect of reducing stagnation, by drawing out accumulated waste, the lingering petechia should contribute to improved circulation for as long as it takes the body to clear it. 

One additional benefit of Guasha is that it can help to reduce and treat myofascial adhesions, these are areas in which the body has produced a kind of sticky web that is a response to stress and injury. While these adhesions may make the tissue tougher in a sense, they also contribute to stiffness, pain and compromised circulation. The friction and pressure of Guasha is an effective way of releasing these adhesions and stimulating the body to repair the tissue more efficiently. 

Common benefits of Guasha include reduced pain and stiffness, reduced numbness and tingling in some cases, and improved function throughout the tissue treated. Guasha is often a decisive factor in the healing and restoration of function to injured tissue. It’s significant enough that in some cases if I had to choose only one tool to use, I would choose it over acupuncture, cupping, and herbs. That does not mean it’s a panacea, and most cases will not heal fully or even heal  efficiently with guasha alone, but it does highlight it’s usefulness and the pivotal role that it can play in some cases.

What should I expect from Guasha? 

During treatment, Guasha often produces noticeable discomfort, but it’s easy to modulate the pressure applied so that it’s within the patient’s tolerance.

For a person who is curious about Guasha, but concerned about the potential for pain and bruising, it can be applied lightly to a small area, just to familiarize you with the sensation and introduce you to it’s benefits and the relief it can produce. Other patients often find that stronger pressures actually feel quite good despite the fact that the sensation is unusual and can be intense with pressure. In short, we can tailor the treatment approach and pressure to your needs. After the treatment, the skin may feel slightly warm and a little sensitive to the touch, and may look and feel slightly bruised. This is completely normal and just part of the process.

You may also find that your range of motion in the affected area is noticeably improved, and that pain is reduced, it may also feel like the pain has gone from being sharp, and deep inside the tissue, to dull, and close to the surface of the tissue.

Most patients report both immediate, and lasting improvement from Guasha, and a significant percentage continue with guasha as a preventative, maintenance option, and some continue because they enjoy the deeply relaxing effect it has on the muscles. 

In addition to these effects, Guasha is commonly used throughout Asia, and some parts of Eastern Europe to bring down fevers, and augment the body’s immune response to colds and flus, while we don’t generally treat people who are actively symptomatic with upper respiratory tract infections in the office anymore, this immune enhancing benefit is worth noting, as it can also help prevent such problems, and may help with lingering symptoms once the infectious stage has passed.

Patients with other types of chronic inflammation or infection may also benefit from Guasha for the same reason. 

I often include cupping or Guasha in acupuncture treatment sessions when appropriate, so if this treatment and it’s wonderful benefits interests you, book yourself in and experience the results first hand.

To Visit Our Aldergrove Clinic:

Joshua Lenti-Jones


Joshua Lenti-Jones was educated at the International College of Traditional Chinese Medicine of Vancouver, in conjunction with direct tutelage from Dr. Tong Nian Zhuo, a modern master of classical methods. Joshua engaged in a portion of his practical studies at An Hui teaching hospital in Hei Fei City, China.


Initial Visit $138
Acupuncture subsequent $100
Laser acupuncture $80
Guasha / cupping $80

Herbal Medicine $47.5
Facial Rejuvenation $155


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