Cold and flu season is upon us. Everywhere you look there are over-the-counter cold and flu products being advertised to keep you safe from the lurking ailments that may afflict you. Flu vaccinations are being offered left and right. When you head out for errands, it may seem like everyone has a runny nose or is coughing. Perhaps you yourself have come down with something.
Viruses and bacteria are nothing new, and neither is our genetic makeup and immune system’s ability to combat them. Before over-the-counter products were sold in local pharmacies and flu shots were created, how did ancient eastern civilizations support the immune system? How did they ward off the flu? Have you heard of Gua Sha?
What is Gua Sha?
Gua Sha is a technique where the skin surface is scraped with the edge of a ceramic tool using a pressing motion. Gua Sha stimulates microcirculation as it expands blood vessels to increase blood flow. It increases immune cell activity. It was found in a PubMed study conducted on the immune response, that Gua Sha increases pro-inflammatory cytokines and decreased immunosuppressive cytokines (Chen T, et al, 2016).
Cytokines are substances secreted by cells that have an effect on the immune system’s function. In other words, this chemical found in your cells jumpstarts your immune system’s ability to fight back against viruses and bacteria.
The skin is the largest physical immunological barrier against our external environment, and in Chinese medicine the skin relates to the Lung. The cold and flu usually affect the respiratory system and the immune system causes an inflammatory response to battle it, hence congestion and phlegm production.
At SOPHIA Natural Health Center, Gua Sha is prescribed when patients sense they are at the beginning stages of developing respiratory symptoms, or are experiencing a full blown cold or flu. Gua Sha is applied to the back of the neck, upper shoulders and mid back. The lymphatic system runs along these areas, therefore Gua Sha drains the lymphatics which assists in decongestion. Gua Sha has been shown to break fevers and decrease pain associated with the cold and flu. Gua Sha supports the immune system function to speed up your recovery time from colds and flus.
Dr. Sian James, DACM, L.Ac.
Resident Acupuncturist, SOPHIA Natural Health Center
At SOPHIA Natural Health Center, we treat patients with colds and other common health problems. Please call 203-740-9300 for a free consultation and health screening.
Chen T, et al. (2016). Gua Sha, a press-stroke treatment of the skin, boosts the immune response to intradermal vaccination.
*The effectiveness of diagnosis and treatment vary by patient and condition. Sophia Natural Health Center does not guarantee certain results.