Gingerbread (Buffy, Season Three, Ep 11)


Willow and Joyce both provide diagnoses for this episode, and taking a look at those diagnoses will be an effective way to recap this Hansel and Gretal Go Wrong episode.

Willow begins to choke when Joyce suddenly appears at the school cafeteria and begins to describe her concerned opposition to witches and the occult, in the wake of discovering two murdered children at a playground Buffy was patrolling. (Amy looks quite uncomfortable, too, but does not evince any lactose intolerance or cassein sensitivity.) Willow notes her problem is excess phlegm, due to too much dairy. Since we just covered phlegm and a few episodes before noted the problems caused by those who choose to follow the Sunnydale Diet (for humans), we won’t reiterate treatments here.

Instead, we will focus on Joyce’s disagreement with the Mayor.  After visiting the high school and apparently launching a schoolwide locker crackdown, Joyce forms the group “MOO”, Mothers Opposed to the Occult  (the name bears no relation to Willow’s dairy problems, assuredly.  Milk is not synonymous with witchcraft, and in fact, I know a number of Wiccans who are vegan and thus don’t drink milk…).  Together, they organise a rally at the Mayor’s office.  In his speech, the Mayor says that Sunnydale is full of good people.  Joyce disagrees.  She notes that nearly everyone has lost someone to mysterious neck wounds or sudden disappearances.  She says that Sunnydale has a disease — of silence.

Silence can indeed be pathological.

Silence comes in many forms in the clinic. Sometimes patients won’t disclose information; sometimes they can’t. Either way, silence is a diagnostic cue.

In terms of herbal medicine, silence can be viewed as throat bi, throat obstruction.  The patient feels like there is something to say, something to get out, but cannot quite do so.  The qi is stuck, the phlegm is insubstantial.  (As opposed to the very substantial phlegm that Willow has.)  Words cannot get out.

When someone has words stuck in their throat, Ban Xia Hou Po Tang may be able to help.  Dr Huang Huang in his Ten Key Formula Families in Chinese Medicine notes a source which “records in minute detail that [this formula] ‘treats the qi of joy, anger, sadness, thinking, worry, fear, and fright knotting together to form phlegm and thin mucus.  It is as if there is a piece of cotton wadding… caught in the throat.'”

In theory, one could also try formulas which treat aphasia as well, if their indications match other aspects of the patient’s presentation.

In terms of acupuncture, we know that the Heart rules the tongue. Problems with speech, not just due to stroke, are treated through the heart meridian.  The virtue which relates to the Heart is propriety.  A person who laughs at inappropriate times violates the norms of propriety; we may diagnose Heart Fire.  A person who cannot speak for fear of saying something wrong — this may be HT qi deficiency, or it may be simply qi stagnation in the throat.  The deciding factor would of course be whether the person also had pain in their heart, heartache.

In either case, qi deficiency or qi stagnation, HT-5 is an excellent choice.  This point is used by Ma Dong Yuan to open the throat and release a person’s inability to articulate their voice. Likewise, points around the throat can also benefit the person, for a similar reason.  I would think of CV-23 and CV-22 in particular, but KD-27, which opens all the front shu points of the chest, may also be beneficial.  To help tonify the HT qi, one could add HT-7 , while HT-3 could be added for stagnation.

As always, this post is for entertainment and theoretical purposes only.  If you feel East Asian medicine may help your self-articulation, please see a qualified practitioner.

Happy Slayage!

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