Fact: Traditional Chinese Medicine has been using gua sha to strengthen the immune system for hundreds, if not thousands of years.
It’s the most wonderful time of the year, they said.
Spread the holiday cheer, they said.
The only thing that seems to be spreading faster than anything, holiday cheer included, is the common cold. Unfortunately for us, its name is well-earned. Try as we might, the truth is that it's pervasive and usually unavoidable. While our immune systems seem to stagger soon after summer ends, what with kids’ return to school and an intensified work schedule, this time of year tends to be the most vulnerable.
At the first signs of sickness — scratchy throat, runny nose, persistent cough, multiple sneezes, and/or achy muscles, you’ll find us reaching for all-natural folk remedies before resorting to a pharmaceutical. On our list is sinus-clearing ginger tea, natural sources of vitamin C like winter citrus, extra rest whenever possible (naps on naps on naps), acupuncture, and, of course, our gua sha tools.
According to ancient Chinese medicine, gua sha and lymphatic drainage can support the body when its run down by a virus or infection. Lymph is the clear liquid that carries our white blood cells — our first line of defense against illness and disease — and is known to play a huge role in holistic skin health, too. Draining lymph can help make sure the lymph is free flowing, not stagnant, and can help your body flush toxins and ailments. This particular technique is used in TCM (traditional Chinese medicine) as well as other folk remedies to help the body process a cold or virus.
- Spritz a rosewater-based tonic around your face, on back of the neck, and on top of your shoulders. Not only will this improve the effects of gua sha, but rose is an energetic mood-lifter. Who doesn’t want that at the first signs of a cold?
- Apply oil to the back of the neck and behind shoulders for slip. Pro tip: use our Empress Oil — it has a skin and sinus clearing tree resin complex that will leave a congested face feeling refreshed.
- Using the comb edge of our Empress Stone, move it up and down (over a span of about six inches) with fast and firm motions. Pressure can be firm, but it should never hurt. Work around raised moles and birthmarks.
- Continue this technique, moving in six-inch sections, over the neck and the back.
- This is intense for the body and can really get the lymph moving! After your gua sha session, use a scarf to keep the neck warm for the rest of the day, and ideally until you start feeling better.
- Don’t forget to drink lots of water to help the lymph system flush. (Check out our article on lymphatic drainage for more information on how it works and other easy, actionable tips on how to support it.)
The skin will turn light pink and may even bruise a little — this is normal. If you notice at any point during your session that the skin is getting too red, take a break, add more oil, and ease up on the pressure.
For a visual version of this tutorial, check out our IGTV Cold Remedy video. And of course, always check with your doctor before trying any cold remedies, especially if you have a pre-existing medical condition.