Innocence (Buffy, Season 2)


I think it was my first year of acupuncture school.  We had a course called diagnostic skills in TCM, and we were invited to bring in a demo patient to assess in small groups.  One of the two patients in my group mentioned in passing that she had just broken up with the person she’d been dating for about a year or so, and she referred to a broken heart once or twice during the intake.

When it came time the students to present the relevant symptoms of the case to the supervisor (who had been present during the entire group intake), we included the broken heart.  It certainly seemed significant to us.  The supervisor,who happened to be from mainland China, disagreed.  We don’t treat broken hearts with acupuncture, she claimed.  Several of us protested, surprised.  Why can’t it?  Because patients don’t come to us to be treated for such things is the reply I recall.

Now, years afterward, I am here to disagree.  Acupuncture and herbal medicine may very well prove useful in helping to heal the broken heart, and I have actually seen in clinic one or two cases where a broken heart was part of the overall picture.

Certainly both Willow and Buffy could use a little help to overcome their broken hearts.  Buffy’s was broken when Angel turned evil and cruelly cast her aside.  Willow caught Xander making out with Cordelia behind the stacks in the library.  I would use slightly different treatments for each — I think Buffy’s experience was the deeper, energetically speaking, or at least more shocking.  Willow at least doesn’t have to kill Xander.

A broken heart most often affects the Pericardium first, as the Heart Protector, and the trauma goes to the blood level.  As a retained pathogen, heartbreak would likely manifest as blood stagnation first, and qi stagnation subsequently.  The qi stagnation impairs the full expression of emotions, while the blood stagnation is the emotional stagnation itself.  Depending on how the heartbreak occurred, it may consume Heart blood or lead to heat in the blood.  Therefore something to nourish blood is in order.

I would compose a simple formula of four herbs: Dan Shen, San Qi, Suan Zao Ren, and Zhi Zi.

Dan Shen goes to the pericardium, nourishing and invigorating blood.  San Qi stops pain, stops bleeding, and also invigorates blood.  The ability to stop bleeding helps close up the wounds the heart has experienced.  Suan Zao Ren is well known for its ability to nourish Heart blood, while also calming the shen.  (An emperor would be prone to disturbance if he discovered his advisers had all nearly been murdered.)  Finally, Zhi Zi is said to be useful for all conditions of vexation to the Heart, and since it goes to the Triple Warmer, it also has an affinity for Minister Fire.  It would also help cool any heat which would result from the stagnation of qi and blood.

For acupuncture, although Luo channels would work well, I would actually use a variation on the Japanese ShaoYin-JueYin protocol.  I reason that the injury was pretty direct, so I would start with the Pericardium channel as the JueYin channel to be treated.  PC-6 actually fits the picture, will its affinity for blood.  ShaoYin in this case would be Kidney, which houses the Minister Fire that was injured.  Physiologically, then, an injury to the Pericardium could spread to the Kidneys through this relationship.  Therefore, tonification of KD-3 would be in order.

If I felt the need to add more points, I would choose either or both KD-24 (“Spirit Ruins”), the front shu point of the Liver and KD-22 (“Spirit Walk”) the front shu of the Kidneys.

As a side note, Angel suffered a rather severe kick from Buffy.  The particular site of the injury leads me to believe he might end up suffering an acute attack of testicular torsion.  This is a condition in which the spermatic cords and the blood vessels which nourish the testicles twist around one another causing incredible pain.  In severe cases, treatment by surgery is required.  In very mild cases, one could try one of several herbal formulae:

Tian Tai Wu Yao San (grind equal parts of the following and take 3g as a draft before meals:  wu yao, mu xiang, dry-fried xiao hui xiang, qing pi, dry-fried liang jiang, bing lang, and chuan lian zi which has previously been dry fried with ba dou until both ingredients turn black; the ba dou is then thrown out).

Ju He Wan (Tangerine Seed Pill), which has too many ingredients to list here, but is noteworthy for also using seaweed among its ingredients.

Acupuncture treatments would focus on warming or moving qi in the Liver channel.  LV-5 has a direct connexion to the genitals.  Since the Liver channel is usually not invaded unless the Kidneys are already weak, KD-10 might also prove useful.  Additionally, it too connects to the “little” or “external” kidneys.  Points on the low abdomen could also be chosen — Ren-3 is the meeting of KD and LV channels, for example, or KD-16.

As always, these posts are for theoretical use only.  If you feel you may benefit from the assistance of Chinese Medicine, please see a qualified practitioner.

Happy Slayage!

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