Anne (Buffy, Season Three, Ep 1)

Ever feel like you’re being worked to death?  Like you’re just a cog in the machine, a brick in the wall?  Like your workplace is a dimension in hell?  Buffy can relate.

Not enjoying your work can have a detrimental effect on your health, prematurely aging you — as this episode so effectively demonstrates.

(We’ll ignore for the moment the quantum reality time scale difference between the demon dimension in which Buffy and Chanterelle/ Lily/ Anne find themselves and the supposedly earthly dimension of Los Angeles.  Just because time passes faster in that demon dimension than it does in LA does not detract from the fact that hard labour does its time on your body.)

As a side note, this was the first full episode of Buffy I ever watched.  When Buffy delivered her line in the demon dimension labour camp in response to the question, “Who are you?”  — “I’m Buffy, the Vampire Slayer” — I was hooked.

This first episode of Season Three affords us an opportunity to look at the concern the ancient Chinese had with slowing aging.   (Perhaps I should have written “ancient and modern concern”.)

Slowing aging should be distinguished from promoting longevity.  The former is focused on preserving a youthful demeanour and vigour of mind and body, while the latter is less concerned with these more external manifestations.  The difference is similar to the Greek myth of the origin of crickets — the moon goddess (Selene, I think, in this case, rather than Artemis) fell in love with a shepherd and requested of Zeus that he be given eternal life.  She forgot to request eternal youth also, and he eventually shrank and became bent over and withered away into the moon-serenading crickets we hear in the summertime.  Too bad she didn’t just make an elixir from jade, which is reputed to turn one into a non-aging immortal.  In China, crickets are a symbol of luck, by the way.

The Shen Nong Ben Cao makes note of several herbs which slow aging, and by taking a look at their modern indications, we can derive a physiological theory behind what leads to the aging process.

Ju Hua, chrysanthemum, disinhibits blood and qi and slows aging.  Niu Xi, acharanthys, which is also known for its blood moving properties slows aging, and nourishes the Liver and Kidneys.  Che Qian Zi, broad-leafed plantain seed, more usually known for its ability to disinhibit urine also shares the property of slowing aging.  It also clears heat from the urinary tract and from the Liver.  Likewise Di Fu Zi, which can be used to clear damp-heat from the urinary tract, slows aging.

Wang Bu Liu Xing enters the  the Liver and Stomach to invigorate blood at those levels in which it finds either its fullness (Yang Ming channel) or its stillness (Jue Yin channel).  Qin Jiao also unblocks the collaterals and relaxes the sinews to move blood, while also clearing deficient heat; it also slows aging.

Xin Yi Hua, magnolia flower, can slow aging, although it is more commonly used to unblock the nose in cases of external wind invasion.  It affects the Lung, Large Intestine, and Stomach channels as they meet at the nose.  Keeping the upper orifices open allows a place for external pathogens to be discharged.

Finally, Mi La, beeswax, slows aging and can be used to either coat or bind medicinal substances together.  I personally prefer to get my beeswax right from the comb, but this method of consumption is getting more and more difficult to find.

These herbs all tend to have one of two things in common:  they keep the blood moving either by invigorating it directly or by freeing the vessels through which it passes; or they clear heat in its various forms — damp-heat, full heat, deficient heat.  (Urination is one of the most effective means of discharging heat, and is governed by the TaiYang channel.)  The herbs thus tend to go to the TaiYang, YangMing, and JueYin channels to reach the blood or to move heat from the core of the body and vent it exteriorly; for this reason several of the herbs also have the property of expelling Wind-Cold.

Acupuncture treatments to slow aging should facilitate this physiology.  He uniting points are used to treat blood stasis, and the combination of ST-36 and LI-11 can help vent heat from the body — although ST-45 and LI-1 may be more effective in this matter.  Luo points can be used to affect the blood; LV-5 and PC-6 can clear the collaterals at the deepest levels of physiology.  Several points on the lower Ren Mai — CV-3, CV-4, and LiNiao can disinhibit urine or nourish yin to clear heat.  CV-4, as the mu-alarm point for the Tai Yang Small Intestine could be particularly useful for this.

While the Shang Han Lun and the Nei Jing may classify Wind and Cold as the source or start of all external pathology, aging seems to be due to heat.  Heat can result from cold which has gone interior.  Likewise, blood stasis, often equated with emotional stasis, is an internal factor.  Both of which would lead us to suspect, then, that aging is clearly due to internal factors.

Growing old can be fun.  My oldest patients, uniformly spry and articulate, rarely complained about aging.  In contrast, my middle aged patients who often seemed to be falling apart laid the blame on getting older.  Decreased bodily function, aches and pains — the are not the inevitable result of age.  They are the result of a pathological progression which began many years before, often rooted in lifestyle factors of sleep, diet, and lack of movement — and emotional outlook.

Each aspect I mentioned contributes to the smooth flow of blood — or leads to its stasis.  When sleep is compromised, blood can not be clarified or stored by the Liver.  If it is not clarified, it becomes sluggish and turbid, leading to stagnation.  If it is not stored, blood becomes exhausted and leads to stasis.  Diet obviously impacts both the composition and quality of blood.  Heat or cold in the blood causes dryness or congealing.  Poor diet leads to poor blood and an overall breakdown in the body’s ability to nourish itself and dispose of toxins.  Finally, a lack of movement clearly impedes blood circulation from the extremities to the trunk.  Many articles have been written about how sitting for long periods of time on an airplane can lead to blood clots — but fewer articles seem to be written about how sitting in an office chair for an extended period of time can have similar consequences.

If you cannot participate in the most mild movements — tai ji, gentle yoga, ballroom dancing (as my old lady patients enjoy) — at least get a good deep massage to move fluids out of the muscles in which they are trapped.  Failing even that, imagining working out, playing a game of golf, going horseback riding, or running — visualising yourself doing these activities may have benefits.  Just remember you have to spend the same amount of time visualising the activity as you would performing it.  I’ve read that just sitting on a trampoline and bouncing up and down in a sitting position can help provide the movement the internal organs need to stimulate their function.

A word of caution, however, to those who exercise at high levels and sweat profusely:  make certain you replenish the fluids which keep the blood thin, and make certain to nourish your heart so that it can recover from its extreme work out.

As always, this blog is for theoretical and entertainment purposes only.  If you feel you could benefit from Chinese Medicine, please see a qualified practitioner.

Happy Slayage!


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