Self-care rituals are a great way to take charge of your own health. Learning how the body works and how to support the body’s natural healing processes will help you to feel better naturally and without drugs or medications. Keeping the lymph moving in your body is the number one way to boost your immune system as we enter the cold and flu season. Anyone out there have kids who come home from school every fall with runny noses? Today I am sharing with you an easy, at-home way to move your lymphatic system so you can ward off those nasty bugs and germs: Gua Sha.
The lymphatic system
The lymphatic system is made up of glands, lymph nodes, the spleen, thymus gland and tonsils. Unlike the circulatory system, it does not have a pump to move it. It relies solely on the movement of the body to flow. This system plays a crucial role in our immunity. It is often referred to as the immune system. The lymphatic system bathes our body’s cells and carries the body’s cellular waste away from the tissues to the blood, where it can be filtered by two of the body’s main detoxification organs: the liver and kidneys. This waste is made up of the byproducts of our bodily processes, over-the-counter and prescription drugs, illicit drugs, cigarette toxins, other airborne pollutants, food additives, pesticides and other toxins.
In Ayurveda, the ancient Indian science of life, the lymphatic system is referred to as Rasa, the river of life. When the river of our lymph is flowing, our immunity is strong and we are able to ward off infections and germs. Like I said before, the lymphatic system relies on external forces to keep it flowing, like muscle movement or intentional massage.
One way to keep your lymphatic rivers flowing is to practice a self-care ritual called Gua Sha. I learned about this practice while studying Ayurveda with my dear teacher, DeAnna Batdorff, from the Dhyana Center in Sebastopol, California. A true wise woman.
What is Gua Sha?
How and When to Use Gua Sha:
For those visual learners out there, here is a VIDEO TUTORIAL on how to gua sha.
I hope that you find this useful. I would love to hear if you already know about this technique and if you have found it to be helpful. Please note that Gua Sha is intended for normal healthy tissues. If you have a serious medical condition, please consult your primary care provider before making changes in your health care practices.
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Suzanne Deardoff says
I used this for my plantar fasciitis with amazing results. I just felt right to break up the painful tissue in my feet with a seashell I had. I didn’t do it to the point of petecchie, but worked the area for about 15 minutes before going to bed at night and within a few days I had no more pain.
Awesome! Plantar fasciitis can be so painful. I’m so glad you feel better!! So great that you had the intuition to do that. 🙂
Great post! Thank you for including a video, as well. Are there any muscles that should be avoided and are there any health conditions where Gua Sha would not be appropriate?
I really like all the information on your site. As a newbie to clean eating I am finding a lot of good ideas and recipes. I have had to struggle with lymphedema for many years resulting in the amputation of both legs above the knee. Before this I went for decongestion therapy, the main treatment of lymphedema. This includes binding the body in tight wraps to exercise to move the lymph throughout the body. It also includes lymph massage. This massage is used to drain the lymph sacs and move the fluid so it can be urinated out. This is a *gentle* massage because applying pressure can damage the lymph channels and will actually make the lymphedema worse. It seems as though this massage is vigorous and it goes against the delicate nature of the lymph channels. I would recommend a doctors visit before trying this. But of course, this is just my opinion.
I’m so glad to hear that you are finding my site helpful. I love to hear postive feedback. As far as Gua Sha goes, it has been used for hundreds of years in Eastern medical practices. It is a very useful tools in keeping the lymph moving and does not damage normal, healthy tissues. I have been doing it for years. But I do agree that anyone with a more serious condition, like lymphedema, should be under the care of a primary care physician. Thanks for stopping by. 🙂
Bernice Teo says
I notice you said to do it during bath, after gua sha it is not recommended to have any contact with water on the area for 4 hours as it would defeat the purpose.
Hi there! It really depends on who you ask. My Ayurvedic practitioner recommends it during baths. They also have guashas to use at the Ayurvedic steam and bath house in my town – to be used while you bathe and steam. All a matter of opinion, I guess. Thanks so much for coming by! 🙂
My Ayurvedic practitioner makes her own gua shas, and recently started selling them on Etsy. Really nice, high-quality gua shas! She also sells some of the herbal blends and things she makes. Anyway, take a look for yourself… they’re amazing: https://www.etsy.com/shop/WholeBodyTonic
Sarah E. Stanley says
Can you use Qua Sha to help relieve swelling from lymphadema in the ankle and feet?
Katja Heino says
Yes, it is good for lymphedema. Just plain old massage and dry brushing would be good too.
Hello katya !
Thanks for the useful information on Gua Sha. Looking forward to heel my plantar fascitis condition through this technique.
What is the ideal healing time between 2 sessions ?
Katja Heino says
That’s hard to say. I use my guasha several times per week. If used gently, you can use it daily.
Great information. Should I scrape in the direction of the grain on muscles? An example would be on my chest. If so, I’m assuming that I would from the outside going toward the heart, correct? Looking forward to your reply. Thanks in advance.
Katja Heino says
Yes, I usually move along the muscle. and moving towards the heart is the best direction.
Rae Chippendale says
While a slim person in the body, i have had fatter areas (what I now know is Lipedema ) in my lower legs, knees and around my forearms and elbows since puberty.
I recently researched the involvement of the Lymphatic System in this condition, fine tuned my already clean diet, and came across Gua Sha as a time-tested method for assisting lymphatic drainage .
Firstly thanks for a great article and for giving me more information . Secondly do you have an experience of other patients with a Lipodema and their results using this method .
Thank you Rae x
Rae Chippendale says
Apologies Katja- my spell correct changed your name! ?
Rachelle Chippendale says
So ve been consistent and dedicated with my gua Sha daily and I cannot believe the remarkable differences already to the areas on my legs with the pockets of Lipedema!
ITs been extremely tough & painful, but beneath the red marking & bruising (brown mainly with a little purple), the fat has started to shrink and contour to a more physiological normal leg shape.
Lymph is obvs moving again now I’m freeing the sludgy deposits within the fatty tissue.
I’m going to continue and incorporate cold immersion that you recommend to further improve micro circulation & lymphatic flow
Thank you !
Katja Heino says
Yay! Thant’s awesome. I have learned that keeping drainage flowing is essential for health. 🙂