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Gua sha: A Natural Therapy for Depression, Anxiety, Insomnia, and Stress - Part 1

Clive Witham performing Guasha on his scalp to alleviate symptoms of depression.

Gua sha can be so effective for treating anxiety, stress, insomnia and depression.

One of the simplest ways is to use Holographic Gua sha and in this video we look at the scalp Gua sha microsystem and how we can use one part of it to help alleviate some of the symptoms of depression.

Episode Transcript

Gua sha and Depression

Hello and I'm back in the forest! And today we're going to have a look at treatments for depression. Now, depression is a problem that I see so much in my clinic.

Most people come for a combination of anxiety, insomnia and depression, and depression is often one of the big ones.

Depression: A Global Issue

According to the World Health Organization, there are approximately 264 million people in the world who have symptoms of depression. It's a major problem that affects so many people. Of these people, between 76 and 85 percent of lower to middle-income individuals have absolutely no treatments for their depressive symptoms, which increases mental health and suicide rates around the world.

This is something I've been treating for a long time in my clinic. And certainly, in terms of Gua sha, you can do so much for the symptoms of depression. Everyone has a totally unique expression of their depression because we are all unique beings with our own problems, lives, and history that shape what is in front of us right now.

But in terms of Chinese Medicine and Gua sha, we can see that there's normally some kind of obstruction involved in some way with the depressive feelings. Quite often, there's a lack of movement within the chest area of the heart. However, more often than not, in terms of Chinese Medicine, it's in the lower part where the liver is - the liver storage system and the liver circulation - which is causing a lack of movement within the body.

Understanding Depression from a Chinese Medicine Perspective

So, if we think about how things breathe - everything breathes - in other words, everything expands and contracts, and your tissue should expand and contract as the flow of blood comes through it. If it doesn't do that properly, it gets stuck, and this is often the problem with depression. The emotions, which normally flow from one to the other, depressive feelings are absolutely normal. I mean, what happened during Covid-19 - if you were depressed, that's normal. I was depressed, I do get depressed as well, and it's a normal human emotion. But the problem with depression is when it doesn't move on, and you get stuck in this, basically, obstruction in the body.

So, we can see depression as a problem in the mind, but we can also see it as a problem with the whole body. If you can change that obstruction within the body, then the circulation will then change everything else, and you can then move beyond the depressive feelings. So, this is what we're going to have a look at now - we're going to have a look at a combination of treatments to treat depression.

Individualized Treatment with Gua sha

Now, there are all kinds of things you can do with Gua sha for depression. Each person that comes in my door - they're totally unique and if I find that I'm repeating the same treatment on everyone, then I've got a problem because I'm not treating that person, and so, in terms of Gua sha to treat depression we've got to think of what's the problem in the person in front of you and so each treatment might be different.

Holographic Gua sha: Treating One Part of the Body to Help Another

But there are certain things which we can use which may be in common amongst lots of people who have depressive feelings. These techniques might not work on everyone because everyone is different - some of them might work - all of them might work. It's very, very important to have a whole range of things that you can do with Gua sha so that you can apply different techniques at different times on different people.

And so you're not repeating the same thing over and over like a protocol that doesn't change which unfortunately is what lots of people think is Chinese Medicine.

Let's start off with some Holographic Gua sha. Now, Holographic Gua sha is a type of Gua sha which is treating one part of the body in order to treat another part, and this is based on the idea of there are microsystems in different areas of the body.

The most common microsystems that you might have come across would be those on the feet which people use as Reflexology, and on the ear and that's very common to be used within acupuncture and acupressure. Basically, the idea is if you were to treat certain areas on your ear or on your feet, they will have a knock-on effect inside the body to change things. As to how it works well that depends on which perspective you're coming from.

Okay, let's start with the scalp. Now the scalp is a fundamental part of Holographic Gua sha and it has a very, very long history of treatments on the scalp, certainly in acupuncture. And if we have a look at the oldest text that exists, the Huangdi Neijing, it talks about at the top of your head there were the 'Water Shu' regions and these were about 25 points spread in columns and rows right at the top of your head. So even at that time when we're looking about 2000 years ago, they realized that treating your scalp will affect your body.

And so with Holographic scalp Gua sha, the head can be divided into different zones and if we can treat those zones, we can affect the body. So let's have a look at the zones we need to affect the changes we need to release obstructions which are very common in people who've got depressive feelings.

Applying Gua Sha on Scalp Zones for Depression

So, let's have a look at Zone 1 first of all. Zone 1 - if you draw a line right in the middle of your face and come to where your hairline is, Zone 1 is right there in the middle. Now if you don't have hair - it's okay, you just imagine where your hair would have been and that will be the area - so that will be Zone 1. It's about two centimeters wide and two centimeters back from the hairline, so in my case, it's somewhere there.

As far as treatment goes, you put the tool on the area and you move the tool backwards and forwards so you're actually moving the different layers of the scalp but you're not actually moving the tool away from that area. It's a very, kind of, slightly harsh treatment because it's much faster than a normal Gua sha and I'm doing it now if you can see it. It's much faster than normal Gua sha and you're putting a little bit of pressure but you can't put too much pressure because there's just not the tissue underneath. So that'll be Zone 1. Now Zone 1 affects your head, your face and your throat.

Then we're gonna go across, which is either side, so we've got Zone 9, 10 and 11, and these are connected with the different areas of your body here. So if we come directly across - remember - Zone 1 is like two centimeters, then from there you come across two centimeters. We can line it up with the eyes so the inner canthus - the inner part of your eye - if we drew a line going up there, that would be Zone 9. If you look straight ahead and the middle of your pupil - go straight up, that's Zone 10. On the outer canthus of your eye, so where your eye finishes, go straight up and that's Zone 11. So it's not too complicated to find.

Now Zone 10 is connected - sorry Zone 9 is connected with your chest. Zone 10 is connected with your digestive organs, so that will be your stomach, your liver, your pancreas, kind of just below the ribcage - those organs there. The next zone, which is Zone 11, is connected with the lower organs and especially the urinary system, such as the kidney and the bladder.

These points can all be done the same way as I did with Zone 1 - you put the tool on, you - I call it vibrate - you vibrate the tool and then move on and vibrate it and then move on and vibrate it. You can cover them all with a standard movement - which I cover in facial Gua sha or also a normal Gua sha - where you're scraping over this area because you can cover all of them.

Now, there are many other areas on your head and it's always a good thing, if you find any sore bits when you're looking over the head, to treat those as well. But certainly, these areas are the ones that really affect the body in terms of this obstruction that I'm talking about. Incidentally, if you're doing Zone 10, you might feel slightly nauseous. Don't worry - it's perfectly normal and that's the effect on your digestive system.

Watch video:



Close-up image of a Gua sha tool being used on the scalp to treat depression

If you're ready to explore the potential of Ecology in Motion™ Gua sha, both personally and professionally, join me on this transformative journey of health and healing at the Komorebi Institute


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