1. “Sha”, commonly known as “poisonous blood”, refers to endotoxins and waste that hinder the natural flow of Qi and blood in the body’s meridian system.
Endotoxins and waste (appearing in the form of Sha when drawn out from the body’s microcirculation) induce diseases, accelerate aging and block the exchange of nutrients and metabolites, leading to pathological changes of tissues and organs. According to Chinese medicine, “Drawing out Sha treats countless diseases.”
A healthy person has well-functioning organs and normal metabolism. The metabolites, when not excreted through normal channels, become pathogenic substances that will negatively impact microcirculation and cause metabolic disorders. They will cause hypoxia, make body cells age, and lead to poor capillary permeability. Pathological substances are endotoxins that bring health hazards, disrupt and pollute the relatively stable internal environment.
Gua Sha (skin scraping) and Paida can draw out red, purplish red, dark blue or bluish dark spots of Sha, which is toxic blood exuded from the blood vessels.When patting or scraping unhealthy parts of the body, the pressure forces capillaries to rupture, thus squeezing out blood with endotoxins. With the skin as a natural barrier, the blood with endotoxins oozed from capillaries stays among the subcutaneous tissues, and this is what we call “Sha”.
2. The difference between Sha and bruises/bleeding
Sha appears to be no different from bruises, but the two are essentially different. For instance, when someone falls over and gets bruises under the skin, or begins to bleed, he/she will feel (almost unbearable) pain and may be unable to move. By contrast, when Sha is drawn out bit by bit where there was unbearable pain or restrained mobility, the pain will gradually fade away or even disappear eventually. Mobility is then resumed.
At a closer look, you’ll find that:
① Bleeding in external injuries comes in bright red, whereas Sha is mostly dark red, purplish red, or even bluish black.
② For people suffering different agonies, Sha tends to appear in different shades, patterns and body parts. It varies even on different body parts of the same person. And it will gradually lessen in amount and shade as one’s condition improves. With the appearance of Sha, diseases, whether minor or major, get alleviated or even cured, especially pains.
3. Why does Sha appear where there is disease nidus and along the corresponding meridians, not where it is healthy?
When the body’s normal metabolism is disrupted, pathogenic substances and metabolic waste can obstruct microcirculation, and inlets of capillaries cramp as a result of the stimulation, making it unable to receive oxygen and nutrients carried in arterial blood; meanwhile, the outlets close as a defense mechanism to avoid proliferation of pathogenic substances, hence leading to stagnation, and disorders or degeneration of capillary permeability.
When repeatedly pressured and stimulated through Gua Sha or Paida, the capillaries will exhibit strong relaxation and contraction responses, squeezing out pathogenic substances along with red blood cells, which is what we call “Sha”.
Sha, as an antigen, stimulates the body to produce antibodies, activates the immune system, and greatly contributes to the body’s fight against diseases.
This is why a perfectly healthy person won’t have Sha no matter how hard he/she is patted or scraped; whereas some who “feel” healthy can be alarmed to see Sha appearing, revealing latent diseases he/she is unaware of.
4. Endotoxins and diseases
Normally, the body’s metabolites are excreted through respiration, sweat, urinary and fecal discharges, etc. When they cannot be discharged through such normal channels and are retained for too long, they will turn into endotoxins harmful to the body. Such endotoxins include bacteria, viruses and their metabolites, as well as cell-damaging oxygen free radicals, and other active substances generated during the oxygen’s metabolic processes in the body. Endotoxins contaminate the body’s internal environment, obstruct Qi and blood flow in the meridians, lead to hypoxia and hence aging of cells. They are the result of pathological changes, and are also the main causes leading to further deterioration of a person’s condition.
Drawing out Sha is an effective way to expel endotoxins. It will facilitate oxygen supply to body cells, clear stagnation, activate cells and enhance metabolism. The shades and patterns of Sha relates to the amount of endotoxins in the body: The more prolonged hypoxia at a disease nidus, the more severely obstructed the microcirculation and meridians, the denser the Sha; the deeper the endotoxins lie in the body, the deeper the Sha lies under the skin; the greater area affected by microcirculation obstruction, the larger block of Sha will appear; the fewer endotoxins, the lighter the shades of Sha, and the Sha spots will be not be linked together; Where there are no endotoxins, the microcirculation and capillary permeability will be normal, and Paida, however intense or long, cannot draw out Sha.
5. Sha only appears where there is microcirculation obstruction.
Sha invariably appears where there is microcirculation obstruction, and the shades of Sha differ with the amount of endotoxins. Drawing out Sha improves microcirculation, relieves capillary stagnation, and smoothens Qi and blood flow. Where there is smooth flow of Qi and blood, there is no pain! And capillary permeability then returns to normal. Coupled with the contractile responses of blood vessels, there is only minimal amount of blood that carries Sha out, and it only has slight pressure on nervous tissues.
Paida to draw out Sha is a way of disease diagnosis and treatment, and also of regular health preservation. When much Sha appears, there might be slight pain at the parts patted, but it normally does not affect mobility. And the pain will gradually disappear in a couple of days.
6. Why is it that some people with critical diseases don’t have much Sha?
Local pathological changes are resulted from two types of microcirculation obstruction: ecchymotic and ischemic microcirculation disorders. Blood flow, when obstructed, is slowed down, resulting in hypoxia and accumulation of toxins in the body and disrupted capillary permeability, and this is ecchymotic microcirculation disorder; When arterial inflow is reduced, and tissue perfusion becomes insufficient, or when blood cell count or its nature changes, it will lead to lack of nutrients in the blood, hypoxia and lack of blood inflow to cells, hence ischemic microcirculation disorder occurs. Although it leads to hypoxia as well, there aren’t much endotoxins, and the capillary permeability is normal.
In both types of microcirculation disorders, the Sha appearance will be different where the local pathological changes differ. Where there is ecchymotic microcirculation disorder, the capillary permeability is disrupted, and Sha will appear fast, after which the microcirculation will be effectively improved; Some suffering from ecchymotic microcirculation disorder are very frail, after rapidly expelling endotoxins and alleviating the symptoms, they may still suffer from insufficient blood or nutrient supply to certain parts of their body (i.e. ischemic microcirculation disorder), and the body cells still suffer hypoxia to varying degrees. This is why some diseases are not thoroughly cured even when Sha no longer appears. Such cases are examples of what is commonly known as "intermingled deficiency and excess" in Chinese medicine, where after expelling evil qi by drawing out Sha, the zhengqi (yang-qi) is still not quite sufficient, thus the disease is not thoroughly healed, and requires further efforts to replenish the yang-qi, increase tissue perfusion, and gradually improve hypoxia.
Where there is ischemic microcirculation disorder, the capillary permeability is normal, there won’t be (much) Sha, but the stimulation will accelerate and increase blood flow, thus effectively improving microcirculation as well. This is also why some critically ill do not have much Sha.
Whether it is ecchymotic or ischemic microcirculation disorder, Paida will stimulate acupoints along the meridians and the reflex zones of internal organs, dredging meridians and regulating the function of organs.
7. Where does the Sha go? How does the Sha subside?
Sha, after coming out, gradually fades and eventually disappears. This is not a process where the toxins are absorbed by the body, but where the toxins are decomposed by immune cells and expelled out of the body.
There are a number of defense mechanisms in the human blood, lymph and interstitial fluids, which detect and expel foreign substances and abnormal tissues in the body. Two of such defense mechanisms are lymphocytes in the immune system and phagocytes in the blood, which can identify, neutralize, swallow up and decompose foreign substances through a complex biochemical process, and expel them out through different channels. This purifies the body’s internal environment, and these cells are thus called “scavengers”.
Sha appears out of blood vessels, and stays under the skin, between tissues. Such "toxic blood out of vessels" becomes foreign substance, which is then detected and decomposed by lymphocytes and phagocytes, and is exuded through respiration, sweat, urine, etc. When the lymphocytes and phagocytes are functioning normally, the Sha will disappear rapidly; otherwise, the process will take longer. Regular Paida enhances the functioning of these “scavengers”, enabling them to rapidly and effectively cleanse pathogenic substances. According to modern medicine, the process of cleansing harmful foreign substances in the human body helps to stimulate the immune system, improve the body’s stress response and repair capacity.
Thus, apart from rapid improvement in circulation and dredging meridians, the process of Sha subsiding is in effect a blood serum antigen therapy without the need of injection. It can help improve the body’s capability to remove foreign substances, and improve immune functions. This is another effect of Paida, also known as the “after-effect of Paida”.