Unlike the vascular system, your lymphatic system does not have a pump; instead, the lymphatic system is manually circulated through movement, such as swinging your arms or practicing yoga; and massage work, or other forms of physical touch to the skin, such as gua sha.

Gua sha is an ancient technique used in traditional East Asian medicine. “Gua sha is defined as instrument-assisted unidirectional press-stroking of a lubricated area of the body surface to intentionally create transitory therapeutic petechiae called ‘sha’ representing extravasation of blood in the subcutis.” (Nielsen, 2013)

Gua sha directly supports the body’s immune system “because of its simultaneous actions on the skin, in the connective tissues, in the lymphatic system, in the muscles, blood vessels and the internal organs. The simple gesture of scraping has effects as great as massages, moxibustion, lymphatic drainage, oxygenic therapies and stimulation of the immunological system.” (Barbalho 2016)

The following results were clinically observed in mice treated with gua sha: “Blood vessel expansion, erythrocyte extravasation, and increased ratios of immune active cells were observed in the skin tissue following the treatment. Pro-inflammatory cytokines were up-regulated, and immunosuppressive cytokines, down-regulated, in the treated and untreated skin and systemic circulation; no obvious variations were detected in case of anti-inflammatory cytokines. Interestingly, intradermal delivery of a model vaccine following Gua Sha induced about three-fold higher IgG titers with a more Th1-biased antibody subtype profile.” (Chen 2016)

While a gua sha treatment can be implemented anywhere on the body, with Traditional Chinese Medicine associating specific locations on the body to specific health outcomes, a gua sha treatment can be easily done to oneself when focusing on the face, neck, and shoulders.

Before a gua sha treatment, it is recommended to use an oil or balm on the location to allow the tool to glide over the skin. A drop of Teramune can be added to your regular facial serum, or to a cold-pressed vegetable oil like hemp or avocado, as an immunostimulant. The essential oils in Teramune are stimulating, to encourage circulation; relaxing, to aid in the release of tension; anti-bacterial and anti-microbial, for a deep but gentle cleanse; and anti-inflammatory and rejuvenating, to aid in the healthy function of the skin.

There are many resources to get you started with an at-home gua sha practice: this article and this video are my favorites for getting started.

References

https://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/full/10.1002/ca.23308

https://www.elsevier.com/books/gua-sha/9780702031083

https://www.researchgate.net/profile/Matheus_Barbalho/publication/311939884_The_effects_of_the_Gua_Sha_technique_western_view_on_the_flexibility_of_the_posterior_chain_series_of_cases/links/5a333ea5aca2727144b65ece/The-effects-of-the-Gua-Sha-technique-western-view-on-the-flexibility-of-the-posterior-chain-series-of-cases.pdf

https://insights.ovid.com/neurosurgery/neusg/2016/02/000/lymphatics-brain/4/00006123

https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC5028785/