If ‘spot reducing’ is possible in weight loss, TCM techniques such as acupuncture, cupping, and guasha 刮痧 (scraping) would be at the top of the list. These three, particularly the latter two, are notably area specific, seeking to activate and flush fluid from the fat cells in the local region.

In my experience with TCM weight loss, guasha was used 1) as a spot reducing technique and 2) to accomplish a result similar to what I described in Moxa for cellulite.

After my acupuncture treatment, using an implement similar to that pictured and some oil, the doctor’s assistant scraped my outer-upper thigh/hip area for about 3 minutes on each leg. And being the good researcher that I am, or perhaps a bit of a skeptic, and not really wanting to needlessly waste my time, when the doctor was out of the room, I said to the girl, does this really work? She told me, yes, it can, especially when combined with acupuncture.

About Scraping

Typically guasha is used on parts of the body assumed to have blood stasis. Scraping over that area causes petechiae, dark red (sometimes purple or almost black) sand-like dots and swelling to occur. In TCM language, guasha activates Qi, tells it to go to that area and restart blood flow, thus eliminating blood stasis. In English, the idea is that scraping alert the immune system and cell repair system by causing noticeable bruising and which are then drawn to the local area to remedy the bigger problem. On a larger scale this awakens the immune system to fight bigger, even systemic pathogens.

Scraping for Spot Reducing

If an area not suffering from blood stasis is scraped, such as in guasha for weight loss, the area doesn’t develop the deep color but remains a softer shade of pink. With scraping for weight loss, the goal is to flush out toxins (that contributes to the cottage cheese look), activate metabolic and thermogenic activities in the region to remove excess water, and complement the work of the acupuncture needles.

Scraping at home

guasha stoneGuasha is one of those super easy techniques you can do at home.  Using a smooth, rounded piece of bone, plastic, or jade and some oil, such as olive, essential, or massage oil, scrape over the spot you are trying to reduce. Don’t use too much oil as it’ll be too slick and you won’t get the effect, but don’t use too little either as it’ll be painful. Always scrape in 1 direction: up to down, or inside to outside. Hold the instrument at a 45degree angle to the skin. You can scrape up to 30minutes.

Two warnings: (1) you will likely have nasty marks lasting up to a week, this can scare people and many doctors, so make sure you’re ok with the potential bruising before you try it. (2) Guasha is typically not done on the abdomen. I know, I know, we all want 6-pack abs.  If you really want spot reducing on the abdomen–and your diet and exercise are already in line–see an acupuncturist for abdominal needling and cupping.

Since a guasha implement came into my possession yesterday, I’m going to start doing this regularly on my outer hip-thigh area.

Next post in the series for TCM weight lossDiet Tea ->

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