Hello, I´m very honored to take part of this discussion, because that is my first posting at Yin Yang House after 15 years of practice as a Medical Acupuncturist. I am of Japanese descent and Acupuncture is part of my childhood visits to the doctor since I was a child in Brasil, We lacked thousands of formal medical physicians because public Hospitals were few, overcrowded and had to tend to hundreds of thousands of poor people in different specialties. Years passed, I graduated as “an MD doctor”, and my field of specialization is Acupuncture, which here in Brazil is a Medical Specialty, but it´s very frequently practiced by excellent Acupuncturist Practitioners from various countries, whose years of study, resilience and experience made them excel in the area. Therefore, they are allowed to practice Acupuncture just as well in dealing with Physical Pain and Emotional Suffering. During 4 years I earnestly studied Dr. David Frawley´s books and a handful of other marvelous Indian books on Ayurvedic Medicine, which I fully understand it´s such a little span of time. But a very respected Chinese Professor, Dr Ling, told me that in order to understand the subtle aspects of Spiritual and Physical pain and suffering, Ayurvedic Medicine would come handy.
He told me never to forget that the entire Continent was called Indochina and Medicine could not care less about political frontiers and historical prowess. For the more dogmatic TCM purists, I can only say Medicine is an art of healing that begins with modesty and insight. I am in gratitude in life, for even being so poor I had the chance to become a Physician MD, a medically recognized Acupuncturist by the Medical Association of Brazilian Acupuncturists and an enthusiast Brazilian Phytotherapist and Indian Ayurvedic Medicine.
All my Chinese Medical Professors practice TCM and Acupuncture with slightly distinct techniques and herbs since they come from the far reaches of continental China to coastal areas. Different people need different Acupuncture so they say. That´s a matter of good sense. They stress that very much. Thus, they always instigated all students to further investigate into new methods of Chinese Medicine and that´s what I´m doing.ever since.
Gua Sha and the climate
I learned applying on raw skin, a very thin layer of oil covering the back and proceeding a gentle Gua Sha on an afternoon with a 40 C surface skin and 90% humidity does a much better job than raw gua sha. I´m not in America or Europe but in the middle of tropical South America.The gua sha is a thin curved stone blade made of jade, that in Brazil we replace with blades of colorful agates, natural semiprecious stones of increadible colors found in abundance here. Both can exert either a superficial as a profound and very relaxing massage on the skin and the superficial muscles under the skin, depending on the technique - , basically pressure applied with your hand coupled with blade inclination. In hot countries or during hot summer times avoid over stimulation of an overheated superficial skin previously basked under the heat or Sun and proceed your massage in circulated areas rather than rake the skin surface which may cause a rather nasty massive liberation of histamines leading to dermographism (bruising of the skin) and excess liberation of Whey Qi due to excessive sweat and heat.
Use Arnica (Arnica Montana) oil or South American Copaíba oil diluted in a proportion of 2% to 98% (although you may increase proportions to 10% to 90%) of almond oil (Prunus dulcis) or the even better grapeseed oil (Vitis vinifera) being the base oil. If you have true, I mean real Lavandula angustifolia essential oil (French Lavanda), two or three drops are welcome for 200 ml of base oil. They are all an excellent combination of oils.
Applied on shoulders and cervical areas, as well as the entire back, Gua Sha can also remove what Indian specialists on Panchacarma describe as AMMA, a toxic etheric substance that may adhere to the skin and cause stress, pain, irritation and anger. Curiously enough in Brasilian Medicine we call this same toxic substance “miasma” and Gua Sha works great the same way.
On the other hand, abhyanga involves a more ample use of oil (specially Arnica montana in non-Indian countries with the same dilutions mentioned above stressing its more pronounced anti-inflammatory properties). Apply over wider areas of back muscles, including cervical, paravertebral, dorsal, lumbar and ischiatic muscles. After covering these areas with a generous layer of oil, use gently pressure cups over them. There is no need to use excessive pressure since the oils will form a tight seal and will penetrate deeply into the skin and muscles with its anti-inflammatory properties. After five to ten minutes remove cups and leave perhaps a single one with a gentle pressure. Starts to slide this cup over all muscles in a gentle circular pattern or in a straight pattern if you are to massage paravertebral muscles. Sometimes, the cup decompresses spontaneously and all you have to do is repeat the procedure. All in all, perform the massage for some ten minutes. There won´t be any bruises left, except for a slight reddening of the skin and a profound relaxation feeling on the back. As mentioned before, this cupping technique also removes a lot of AMMA or miasma from your back and that may induce a profound, comforting relaxation and relief of stress. You will notice, the technique is also good for you.