Faith, Hope, and Trick (Buffy, Season Three, Ep. 3)


I was tempted to drive out to South Boston and take a photograph of a Baptist church, since Faith references both during this episode in which we are introduced to her.  Instead, since I live within walking distance of the high school where Eliza Dushku graduated, I will content myself with posting a photo of the graveyard which the school overlooks.  Welcome to Watertown, MA, the hellmouth of Massachusetts.  (Friends and I have named the Big Dig is the actual hell space.)

The cemetery in front of Watertown High School

Aside from Boston, this episode was replete with references to fast food.  (Surprisingly, Boston’s fast food of choice — Dunkin Donuts — was not mentioned.  The writers must all be thoroughly acclimated to L.A.)  First we see the Burger Joint where Trick orders an un-named soft drink.  Then we see the pizza boy delivering himself for dinner.  Joyce offers Faith some more un-named soft drink (echoes of a not-so nutritious Soylent Green, anyone?), while Buffy complains that Faith is stealing her fries.

Poor diet is one of the named causes of illness in Chinese medicine.  Western medical research is also demonstrating links between diet soft drinks and diabetes, sugar and desiccated skin, AGES and diseases of degeneration, lack of vegetables or fiber and certain types of cancer — and the list could go on.

While nutrition according to Chinese Medical Theory is a topic all to itself, treatments for problems associated with a poor diet have been around for hundreds of years.

The Ling Shu advised using He-uniting or He-Sea points to treat illnesses associated with poor diet.  These points are generally located around the ankles and knees.  I would start with LU-5 and SP-9 for someone who has a habitually poor diet, since the TaiYin channel is useful for regulating the overall qi dynamic of the body.  This qi dynamic can be interrupted by food which is literally cold (“congealing” the qi and fluids of the body) or energetically too cold or too hot (both often lead to symptoms of internal heat).  I might also consider ST-36 and LI-10 or LI-11 for YangMing disorders.  LI-11 for signs of heat in the system, LI-10 for signs of a taxed digestive system.

(As a side note, “Sea” does not translate the Chinese character “he” which is used to classify these points; “uniting” or “union”, is a more accurate rendering.)

Another problem which can arise from a poor diet is food stagnation.  Most of us have experienced this at one time or another, usually at some festive celebration during which we consume vast quantities of foods — meats, vegetables, sweets, alcohol.

Several herbs have been used in China and the West (Persia, Byzantium, Europe, North Africa) to treat these symptoms.  Hawthorne berries (Shan Zha) are common to both Chinese and European herbal traditions, and when prepared as a tisane or decoction are useful in relieving food stagnation due to an over-consumption of meat.  They have also been linked to lowering cholesterol levels in the blood.

Another remedy is radish seeds (Lai Fu Zi), which also transform phlegm.  They can be used as a tisane for that feeling of food not really digesting when you have a cold.  Shen Qu, medicated leaven derived from several herbs, is also used to relieve food stagnation due to grain; Mai Ya is also paradoxically used (Mai Ya is the grains of wheat which float in water).  My favourite herb to relieve food stagnation — more for its shock value than anything else — is Ji Nei Jin, the lining of chicken gizard.  Ji Nei Jin is one of the few herbs which go to the Small Intestine.  It is also useful for treating gallstones and kidney stones.

A simple formula to treat food stagnation is Jiao San Xian, prepared by scorching Mai Ya, Shen Qu and Shan Zha.  This is a good remedy for people who inadvertently gorged themselves at the local vegetarian buffet.  Somehow, though, Faith and Buffy do not strike me as vegetarians.  (Certainly Angel and Spike would not qualify, either.)  The rich diets they undoubtedly consume would warrant a stronger formula — so let them eat chicken gizzard.

As always, this post is for entertainment and educational purposes only.  If you feel Chinese medicine may help you after your traditional take out meal on Christmas night, please see a qualified practitioner.

Happy Slayage!

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