The Freshman (Buffy Season 4, Episode 1)

It’s that time of year again:  Fresher’s week is approaching at my University; many other Universities are already a month into the school year. Buffy is bewildered by college life and having difficulty adjusting to classes (not having signed up for them in time), while Willow is immersed in her element, ecstatic over being penetrated by knowledge, letting it spurt all over the place. I particularly liked the audio choice when she walks into the library for the first time.

UC Sunnydale, though, looks suspiciously like UCLA…

This episode was filled with conditions which can be treated with the use of a single primary channel, the Foot Shao-Yang, Gallbladder meridian, and we will focus on a few key points along that channel.

Like freshmen, being a little bit lost in life and constantly twisting about is an attribute of the ShaoYang sinew channel. It particularly allows one to rotate externally, to go out in the world and make choices. It sounds like Buffy could have used a little bit of release along the ShaoYang at the end of last season — she was so focused on moving straight ahead (a TaiYang attribute), that she didn’t see the other tasks beside her: like making a course selection at UC Sunnydale. GB-44 and GB-37, in combination with ah-shi points on the GB channel, could be used in a sinew vessel treatment for this restrictive attitude.

I would note though, that from going too tight, the sinew vessel in Buffy has gone too slack — a classic inversion of yang to yin. In this case, perhaps adding GB-34, the meeting point of the sinews, would help even out the balance. GB-29, on the Yang Qiao Mai, the extraordinary vessel used when the yin is slack and the yang is tense, could also be considered. (The opening point for the Yang Qiao Mai is UB-62.)

Buffy’s wrist gets broken, or at least seriously twisted by a vampire in this episode. The Nei Jing mentions that the Gallbladder ‘masters’ the bones. This attribute can particularly be seen in the point GB-39 and GB-34, which, along with BL-11, are useful in treating broken bones. GB-39 is the meeting point of marrow. According to Classical Chinese physiology marrow gives suppleness and nourishment to the bones, while the sinews help stablise and shape them as they grow.

It is interesting to note the centrality of psychology class in this episode. My freshman pysch professor told us all the first day that he gives out only 2 ‘A’s in the entire class of 300. (I have it on good authority that he also gave out two ‘A-‘ grades.) We were also required to sign up during the course of the semester for a certain number of experiments to be performed on us by grad students… The Gallbladder itself, like the Brain, is a curious organ, and its channel is an access point to those extraordinary organs. We’ve already mentioned GB-39, which is the meeting point of marrow; the brain is the ‘Sea of Marrow’. At least one commentator (N. Sivin) has called these two extraordinary organs part of the ‘medullary system’ in Chinese Medicine. This is not the only point to affect the brain, however, and I would point the reader to GB-13, ‘Ben Shen’ or ‘Root of the Affect’ as a key point for any patient struggling to change or stabilise their mind. GB-18 ‘Cheng Ling’ or ‘Spirit Support’ and GB-19, ‘Nao Kong’ or ‘Brain Hollow’ are two points to think about when someone is overwhelmed by too many ideas and can’t think ‘straight’, impeding the ability to make decisions. Both are also used in the treatment of vertigo and epilepsy.

The other aspect by which the GB can ‘master’ the bones is reflected at the start of the Gallbladder’s external channel: GB-1, GB-2, and GB-3 all line the zygoma, which is considered the Master Bone in the body (and is usually associated with the Small Intestine meridian and the Ye, or thick fluids). This bone’s function in Chinese Medicine bears some similarity to the sphenoid bone’s importance in osteopathy. The sphenoid’s movement, floating amid other bones, reflects or relates to the overall movement and breathing patterns of the body. Further down the channel, at the mastoid process, GB-12 is called ‘Completion Bone’, and should not be overlooked in regard to the GB’s relationship to bones.

Willow’s comments about thrusting, spurting, penetrating… knowledge make me think that her Dai Mai could be regulated. GB-41 is the opening point of the Dai Mai, while GB-26 bears that name, and is itself located on the channel. She may have a little bit of damp-heat in the GB channel, which could be drained by using the Ying-Spring point at GB-43.

The Gallbladder channel’s realm of influence does not directly translate into herbal medical terms related to the Gallbladder. That is, one wouldn’t think of using herbs to address the Gallbladder in the case of broken bones; instead we would use herbs which work on the Kidneys, or possibly on the Yang. However, two herbal remedies which would prove useful for this episode include Wan Dai Tang — Secure the Dai Mai or End Discharge Decoction — which, aside from Chai Hu, does not really have any Gallbladder oriented herbs.  The other option is Warm the Gallbladder, which, following its original formula with 12g of Sheng Jiang and no Zhu Ru, might help Buffy’s self-confidence and courage return.


As always, although based on Classical or Traditional Chinese Medical theory and thus applicable in the clinic, these posts are for entertainment purposes only. If you feel you could benefit from the insights of Chinese Medicine, please see a qualified practitioner.  Happy Slayage!


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