Module 5: Safety & Medical Errors: Complications & Contraindications for Gua Sha | Healthy Seminars

Module 5: Safety & Medical Errors: Complications & Contraindications for Gua Sha

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Module 5: Safety & Medical Errors: Complications & Contraindications for Gua Sha

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This lectures identifies the ‘complications’ reported in the medical literature for Gua sha (Cao gio, coining, spooning, ‘scraping’). How Gua sha has been situated in Western medical database is specified in detail pointing to ethical problems of medical errors, bias and ignorance on the part of Western authorities. As expected, how Gua sha is situated in the Chinese language database is different with over 600 citations that are discussed in detail in the lecture on Evidence and Effectiveness.

Here we look at the articles that term Gua sha in the negative register of ‘abuse, pseudo-abuse’ and examine the historical context that fostered Gua sha’s primary complication as misdiagnosis by Western authorities and the social and ethical complications that one might expect would ensue.

The actual contraindications and cautions for Gua sha are then specified, based on the author’s almost 40 years of experience of Gua sha use and research. Every practitioner needs to know the specifics and historical context of how this technique is represented in the Western medical literature.

Please Note: Pages 12-14 from Dr. Arya Nielsen's textbook Gua sha, a Traditional Technique for Modern Practice, is required reading for this module and the certification program. The textbook is not included in the purchase price of this course. You are required to obtain a copy of her book. To purchase book click here.

Certification Course

This course is part of the  Gua Sha Certification program by Dr. Arya Neilsen comprised of 11 modules.
You can choose to take the full certification program (all 11 modules and hands on training with Dr. Arya Nielsen) and be listed on the website or you can choose a la carte and take just the modules that interest you and only receive continuing education credits.

If you have taken one or more of the modules below and you want to take all 11 modules and save on the bulk registration  please contact Healthy Seminars directly and we can apply the fees you have paid for the individual modules toward the Complete 11 module program. It is cheaper to register for the complete program than to register for all 11 modules individually. 

This course is approved with the National Certification Board for Therapeutic Massage & Bodywork (NCBTMB).

  1. Define harms and distinguish difference between Identify keywords and process of database search, data collection
    1. adverse events that occur from normal course of treatment
    2. medical errors  that occur from negligence
    3. common usage of ‘complication’ to describe all events as adverse events
  2. Identify context of bias: first 30 years of reporting of Gua sha/Cao gio/coining/spooning in Western
    1. Negative register: abuse/pseudo abuse terminology
    2. Studies from medical anthropology to rectify
    3. Cultural bias AMA re ‘ethnic subgroups’
    4. List articles published that fail to cite current textbook.
  3. Identify keywords and process of database search, data collection
    1. Chinese keywords and Chinese language database
    2. English and Western medical database
    3. Table of key terms used in Western literature and texts and correction based on medical use
  4. Medical errors in reporting complications
    1. Misreports of adverse events that either did not involve Gua sha/Cao gio or were in themselves errors and hysteria
    2. One adverse report from negligence/misapplication of Gua sha
  5. Contraindications and Cautions when considering Gua sha
  6. Watch Video recording on Gua sha safety
  7. Review of Safety Guidelines, Rules and Recommendations, Question and Answers, Program Worksheet and Quiz

Dr. Arya Nielsen is an American acupuncturist taught in the classical lineage of Dr. James Tin Yau So. She graduated in the first class of the first acupuncture college in the United States in 1977 (New England School of Acupuncture). She is a practitioner, teacher, author, and researcher and is considered the Western clinical authority on Gua sha. Dr Nielsen is an Assistant Clinical Professor at Icahn School of Medicine at Mount Sinai in the Department of Family Medicine & Community Health and directs the Acupuncture Fellowship for Inpatient Care at Mount Sinai. Her research includes both the physiology and therapeutic effect of Gua sha, acupuncture therapies for acute care and the inpatient setting as well as research on the treatment of chronic pain in underserved populations. Dr. Nielsen is the author of the textbook Gua Sha, A Traditional Technique for Modern Practice, (also in German, French and Italian) now in its second edition. She also filmed Gua Sha: Step-by-Step a teaching DVD. Arya teaches internationally on topics related to East Asian medicine and Integrative medicine she developed and teaches the Gua sha Certification Course with ProD Seminars ( as well as courses on safe and ethical practice standards, evidence for acupuncture and traditional East Asian modalities, and inpatient hospital-based acupuncture therapy. Dr. Nielsen is the Chair of the Policy Working Group for the Academic Consortium for Integrative Medicine & Health, the 70 plus North American member organization of academic medical centers and health systems that support utilization of evidence-based nonpharmacologic therapies as integrative medical care. Arya served on a 2014 Joint Commission Stakeholder Panel on pain that led to their clarification (2015) that nonpharmacologic therapies be included in treatment strategies. Arya can be contacted by email at or at her website

$125.00 USD

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