If you pay close attention to viral beauty trends on social media—read TikTok and Instagram—you’ll no doubt already have heard about the ancient wellness practices of dry brushing and gua sha.
While these rituals differ from each other, they both involve brushing or gently scraping the skin for maximum lymphatic health benefits.
To better understand why dry brushing and gua sha is all the rage, we should first look at the process of these techniques, which encourage lymphatic drainage and circulation.
There’s not much scientific research about the benefits of dry brushing and gua sha. However, we do know that when you improve your lymphatic system, you also help your body fight off infections.
Overview of the Lymphatic System
The lymphatic system collects excess fluid called lymph that drains from cells and tissues throughout the body and moves it back into your circulatory system. The lymphatic system
Unfortunately, the lymphatic system doesn’t have a powerful organ (like the heart) to keep fluid flowing. Instead, it must be stimulated. There are lots of ways to improve your lymphatic health.
So, what possible health benefits do dry brushing and gua sha offer? Let’s take a look below.
Lymphatic Health and Dry Brushing
Dry brushing is pretty much what it sounds like—brushing one’s body with a stiff-bristled brush. It’s normally done daily and when the skin is dry, hence the term “dry” brushing.
This traditional Ayurvedic practice, also known as garshana in Sanskrit, stimulates the skin and lymphatic system, supporting the natural process of enhancing blood circulation and releasing accumulated toxins.
The many benefits of dry brushing include detoxification of the skin, lymphatic drainage and exfoliation of the skin.
Lymphatic Health and Gua Sha
Gua (scraping) sha (sand) originates from traditional Chinese medicine and is a technique to distribute qi around the body. In Chinese medicine your qi (pronounced “chi”) or energy must flow through your body properly in order for you to feel your best.
Sometimes this energy can become a little sluggish and health problems may arise. In gua sha, a practitioner will use a special, dull-edged tool and scrape the affected area of the body in a combination of long and short strokes. This helps energy to start flowing again.
More recently, especially on social media, gua sha has been applied as an at-home, facial skincare routine to increase circulation and decrease puffiness—especially as part of a morning skincare routine.
The Benefits of Gua Sha and Dry Brushing
There are many health benefits associated with both dry brushing and gua sha, which include healthy looking skin, better circulation and healing. Here are some of the top health benefits of dry brushing and gua sha and what you, too, might expect.
Increased Blood Flow and Circulation
One of the biggest benefits for both gua sha and dry brushing is improvements in blood flow and circulation. By stimulating the skin with dry brushing and gua sha, we are promoting better blood flow and circulation to certain areas of the body. By applying pressure onto the skin and other parts of the body, we can increase blood flow to that area.
Gua sha, for example, can be used on the face to promote better blood flow to the face and improved radiance as well as isolated problem areas like the neck or shoulder to relieve tension.
With dry brushing, the act of brushing also stimulates the skin and muscles and stimulates the nervous system, promoting better blood flow.
As we go through life we can get random aches, pains, tightness, muscles knots, etc. Many of us also deal with daily stressors, anxiety and headaches. Gua sha in particular can help with this as the practice is designed to heal the body so energy flows freely.
After a gua sha treatment, most already feel more relaxed and find that tightness in problem areas is gone. When using gua sha as part of a morning skincare routine, it can also help our skin become smoother and free from puffiness.
By promoting blood supply to different areas in the body, tissues become healthier and so do we as a whole.
Gets Energy Moving Around the Body
Due to its history and relation to traditional Chinese Medicine, gua sha in particular is known to help move energy around the body. By using the gua sha massage tool, practitioners can resolve issues like soreness, muscle knots, weakness and pain which tend to manifest when blood isn’t flowing around the body correctly. This can then allow for better circulation, better energy flow and healthy tissues.
Dry brushing works in similar ways. By massaging the body and activating the muscles and tissue we can aid better energy and circulation in the body.
Dry brushing especially is great for promoting lymphatic drainage. As we mentioned previously, lymphatic drainage is the elimination of lymph, a natural fluid that builds up between cells that travels to the lymph nodes which filter out harmful substances. The purified lymph then travels back into the bloodstream.
As you dry brush you exfoliate the skin, get rid of dead skin cells and unclog the pores, which, in turn, helps to increase blood circulation and helps to speed up lymph drainage. Unclogging the pores can also help the body to eliminate toxins through easier sweating.
Gua sha also works in a similar way. By scraping, rubbing or pushing the skin, essentially like a massage, you’re increasing blood circulation and promoting lymphatic drainage.
Gua sha, however, has much less exfoliation benefits compared with dry brushing.
Positive Effects of Gua Sha
Other positive effects of gua sha can include reduced anxiety, insomnia and fatigue. Gua sha is said to also help improve migraines, neck pain, swelling and tension headaches as well as muscle knots and tightness.
Positive Effects of Dry Brushing
Apart from lymphatic drainage and better circulation, dry brushing has also been shown to give your skin a more radiant glow. As you brush you’re stimulating the skin and removing dead skin cells which helps to make the skin smoother, softer and more radiant.
Have you tried gua sha and dry bushing yet? What benefits did you see on your overall health?
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