Aromatherapy and Gua Sha for pain and stress relief

Aromatherapy and Gua Sha is not a very common combination. The two therapies are quite contrasting, as aromatherapy is known for its gentle and subtle approach whereas Gua Sha has a reputation of being a “rough” treatment. Gua Sha is an ancient remedy from East and Southeast Asia. Aromatherapy has roots all over the ancient world, but the use of essential oils medicinally was established in Europe. The term “Aromatherapie” was coined by the French chemist Jean-Maurice Gatefosse around the beginning of 20th century, when he realised the medicinal properties of essential oils. ¹

In my own experience through applying the two therapies on myself and others, I  have realised that together they create a complete therapy, fully complementing each other.

The technique of Gua Sha (Gua=to rub, Sha=describes the blood congestion that arises where there is pain and stiffness) is “a traditional East Asian medicine healing technique”² that was used to relieve from feverish conditions and injuries. Gua Sha is a form of deep tissue massage, performed with a special tools, usually from jade, ceramic, horn or metal, with which the therapist scrapes the skin to bring the stagnation of Qi, Blood and toxins to the surface of the body to be dissolved by the lymphatic and circulatory system. Gua Sha is excellent to break those stubborn knots and relieve from deeply rooted pains of the muscles and nerves. Nowadays, is very popular among athletes as it is used for injury and pain relief. It is very efficient for emotional and stress release as well-these shoulders always have some stagnation hidden due to the burdens of everyday life…

Aromatherapy massage (massage with the use of aromatic essential oils) on the other hand, is one of the gentlest forms of complementary therapies.  The therapist with gentle massage movements distributes the essential oils in the body through the skin, to enter the bloodstream through the capillaries, in order for their potent chemical constituents to start working on the troubled part(s) of the body. In conditions where the client needs just a little bit of relaxation or rejuvenation, aromatherapy massage on its own can work miracles. However, for a really painful shoulder, or a trapped nerve, a stiff neck or other chronic pain conditions, aromatherapy will take a series of treatments to show results. Combined with Gua Sha, these deep stubborn issues can be relieved within one treatment, and after two or three sessions, it is high likely that the pain will have subsidised significantly.

The treatment starts with an aromatherapy massage, using essential oils that are suitable for each client’s ailment and emotional need at the time of treatment. When the body is relaxed after the aromatic massage, Gua Sha takes turn. The therapist scrapes the skin over the stubborn knots and any other  sore body parts that were felt during the massage, looking for the appearance of Sha. The stagnation will surface the skin forming red marks (or sometimes blue or black… depending on how long the stagnation has been in the body) that usually last three to five days. This is where aromatherapy kicks in again. Using a blend of carrier and essential oils indicated for bruises, the Sha marks can be kept to a minimum and fade a little bit quicker than they would without the aromatherapy blend.

If you are interested to experience an Aromatherapy Gua Sha treatment email me through the contact us page or give me a call to book an appointment at the Kingston Natural Health Centre.

Sources:
1.Lyth, G. (2018). The History of Aromatherapy | Part 2: 529 AD – Today). [online] Quinessence.com. Available at: https://www.quinessence.com/history-of-aromatherapy-2 [Accessed 1 May 2018].
2.Nielsen, A. (2013). Gua Sha. 2nd ed. Churchill Livingstone, pp.39, 43, 118.
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