School Hard (Buffy, Season 2)


In this episode we are introduced to a very blond, very bad vampire.  Who will stay with us until the end of the television series, it turns out.  A very interesting trip down memory lane, this episode.

Spike does not come alone.  He brings along Drusilla, brought to amazing life (if you will excuse the pun) by the incredible acting of Juliet Landau. But Drusilla has a problem.  The problem is not that she is a seer.  No, her symptoms line up under another, rather common, pattern.  Let’s see how:

Drusilla is experiencing anorexia — a lack of appetite.  (This is not the same thing as anorexia nervosa, which is a psychological diagnosis).  She also complains to Spike of cold limbs, while he comments on her wan complexion.  No appetite. Unclear thinking, unformed intent.

Drusilla doesn’t even finish her meal, and presumably loses more blood in the process of turning her dinner into a playmate.

Sorry folks, but this sounds like a clear cut Spleen issue to me.  No interesting diagnosis today.  Let’s see if we can make the treatment interesting.

Clearly, Drusilla could use some more blood, and to do that why not strengthen her Spleen?  This case can use the prosaic Ba Zhen Tang as an herbal base (but replace the Ren Shen with Dang Shen if you want to keep Dru a vampire).  Add E Jiao for more substance and so that she can keep her blood to herself.  No need to over-run Sunnydale with vampires.  (It’s already too late for that.)

For acupuncture, if we are dealing with blood, let’s see what can be done using Luo Vessels.  I don’t usually think of bloodletting to generate blood, even though I have tonified luo vessels with moxa following the bloodletting.  I’m not sure how a vampire would react to burning moxa, actually.  Do you think they might be afraid to have flame around?  (The Master certainly wasn’t — did you see all the candles and torches he decorated his home with?)  A more immediate concern is that moxa was once used as an exorcistic herb, kind of like how North Americans (whether they are descended from the indigenous peoples of the Great Plains or not) use white sage.

Since I’m unlikely to ever use this treatment on a blood-deficient vampire (I doubt I’d have time to whip out my moxa and needles), I’ll leave the discussion for a later time, and focus on an actual treatment.

I’ve chosen to use Luo Vessels, because I’ve never thought to use them in this sort of case.  Extraordinary Vessel treatments can easily be used to generate blood and support Spleen qi via the Chong Mai (SP-4, ST-30, ST-37, LV-1, SP-1, and if you want to bring it up to the face via the Ren Mai to help the complexion, ST-4.  I would avoid CV-24, which is a ghost point).  Divergent channels can also be used to generate blood (I would use the LV-GB channel divergence), but in this case, we need to generate blood, not bank blood so much.

The Luo Vessels follow a sequence very similar to the primary channels, and pathology can enter either from a primary channel directly, or from the sequentially preceding luo channel when it drains.  When luo vessels become full, they appear as spider veins, which are bled; when they drain, they leave behind little nodules.  Those nodules are treated by bleeding followed by moxa.  The luo vessel of the channel on which these veins or nodules appear is also bloodlet with either lancets or plum blossom needles.  Typically, I think of using luo vessels for internal, emotional based symptoms, but they can be used for physical complaints as well.  After all, pain is due to blood stasis, whether physical pain or emotional pain, and pain can be resolved by moving blood.  The emotional-based treatment is somewhat different from what I’ve given above, however.

If we take Drusilla’s lack of appetite as the key symptom, we could begin thinking of using the Large Intestine luo.  It’s symptoms include constant chewing — but if the luo vessel were empty, the opposite would hold:  a lack of chewing.  (Upon reflection, that symptom applies to most vampires.)  Because the LI luo is empty, we would expect to find a subsequent one to be full, unless a primary channel was strong enough to deal with the pathogen in some way.  That does not seem to be the case here.  Drusilla does manifest fullness in the Stomach luo, whose key symptom of fullness would be feelings which are out of control.  Mildly out of control in her case, perhaps — she also manifests an inability to defend herself, a symptom of BL luo fullness.

The treatment then, would be to look for spider veins along the trajectory of these channels and bleed them.  (Maybe this is how her meal got turned into a vampire — self treatment is not recommended.)  BL-58, ST-40, LI-6 can all be bloodlet.  Start with the BL luo point and trajectory, then move back along the sequence.  Use moxa on LI-6.  I would also consider using moxa on KD-3, the source point of the next channel in the sequence, to keep the pathology from going deeper.

Let’s see if we can parse this treatment out in TCM terms.  Although it fits the symptoms being manifested, from a Classical point of view, could we convince a TCM practitioner that this will treat SP qi and blood deficiency?

ST-40 is usually thought of as dispersing phlegm.  Phlegm often results when dampness coagulates due to heat.  Bleeding this point will release some of that heat, certainly, and may help clear the phlegm.

BL-58 is recognised as an empirical point for treating hemorrhoids.  Hemorrhoids could be thought of as Spleen qi sinking, leading to prolapse.  Heat in the blood and wind can also cause hemorrhoids, however.  BL-58 harmonises upper and lower by resolving excess above and deficiency below.  If the Spleen and Stomach harmonise above and below, then it can be reasoned this point could have some effect on those organ-functions.  The point also treats mania, which we know is a symptom of Stomach or Yang Ming heat.

Finally, LI-6 opens and regulates waterways, so could help with dampness if that impedes the Spleen.  It also treats mania, interestingly enough. And cold teeth.  I’ve never thought of vampires having cold teeth before.

While I’m not entirely convinced this would treat an underlying Pi Xu pattern, I’m confident this series of treatments would resolve the symptoms which are giving Drusilla her wan complexion and poor appetite.  Spike should thank me.

As always, the above discussion is for theoretical and entertainment purposes.  Please see a qualified practitioner if you think Asian medicine may benefit you.

Happy Slayage!

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1 Comment

  1. June 28, 2010 at 22:12

    School Hard (Buffy, Season 2)…

    I found your entry interesting do I’ve added a Trackback to it on my weblog :)…


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