Beer Bad (Buffy Season 4, Episode 5)


Being both an occasional bartender and a college student (again) has given me a new appreciation for this episode.  In this episode, Xander gets a job as a bartender, part of his efforts to incorporate himself into the college life of his friends.  Buffy goes to his bar in order to taker her mind off Parker, but she sees him picking up yet another woman there.  After lingering for a little bit, Buffy decides to leave, but is invited by some rather arrogant students to join them for a night of beer.  The guys who invited Buffy over had earlier been insulting Xander’s socioeconomic status potential in comparison to their own current social capital and potential future economic status.  Apparently, Xander was not the first to be so insulted, and later we learn that Xander’s boss has been spiking one of the micro-brews so popular with these up-and-coming students.  The resulting potion turned the group — and Buffy along with them — into uncouth, dim-witted paleolithic hominids.

Happily, although I’ve experienced a packed bar, the patrons I’ve encountered have been uniformly friendly.  I’ve had no need to devise any potions with which to spike the drinks.  On the other hand, Chinese medicine has a long tradition of making medicinal wines, and one does not need to be either a warlock nor have a bevy of bottles and bunsen burners in order to make them oneself.

(As a side note, if I needed to treat Buffy with acupuncture, I’d use the shu points, which the Ling Shu indicates are to be used in cases where the pathology fluctuates with time.  Since Buffy appears to have a condition which took her back in time, and this condition is related to her fluid consumption, I would choose SP-3, SP-9, and ST-42.  SP-9 is chosen as a he-uniting point, which the Ling Shu advises for conditions relating to food and drink.  I chose the Spleen because it is responsible for change and transformation; the gallbladder would be my second choice, for a similar reason, but the gallbladder is more associated with changes of spirit/ mind/ affect or the curious organs as a group.)

Chinese medicinal wines can be loosely divided into those made for consumption (not more than a 25ml shot or two per day) and those for external application.  While the latter would more properly be called ‘liniments’, because they are made in essentially the same way as consumed medicinal wines, using rice wine or vodka, I associate them in my mind (though I clearly label them in order to differentiate them in my practice!).

The general process of making a medicinal wine is fairly simple:  take the herbs, wash them, place them in a container which can be sealed, add vodka or rice wine (not more than 30% alcohol by volume, or 60 proof), and leave to soak out of direct sunlight for three months or more.  Periodically shake the bottle during this time, to ensure the herbs become evenly mixed.

Two formulas are included below as examples, both drawn from the martial arts tradition.  Unfortunately, I do not have the bibliographic references on hand…  The first, though, is from A Tooth from the Tiger’s Mouth by T. Bisio, a book i highly recommend for those interested in external medicine.

Trauma Liniment

Take 12 g each of Da Huang, Zhi Zi, Huang Bai, Hong Hua, Mo Yao, Ru Xiang, Xue Jie, Lu Lu Tong, Dang Gui Wei.  Soak in 1 gallon (4.5 litres) vodka or rice wine for 30 days.  use on any contusion, especially to the shins.

Jin Feng Jiu

Take 3g each Sheng Di, Shu Di, Dang Gui, Mai Dong, Di Gu Pi, Yin Yang Huo, and 1.5 g of Sha Ren.  Grind or use whole to make wine.  Add to a fifth (750mL) of 80 proof alchohol or less.  Steep for 60 – 90 days.  Harmonises jing, quiets restlessness.  It is recommended that men refrain from ejaculation during the period when taking this medication.

Lu Rong Ren Shen Jiu

Take 10g each of Lu Rong and Ren Shen.  Steep the powdered herbs in a fifth (750mL) of rice wine for 60 days.  Dose at 1 oz daily to strengthen the bones and sinews.  If the patient experiences too high an increase in libido, add several berries of Wu Wei Zi, to astringe essence.

Of the above formulae, naturally I would recommend using the trauma liniment to treat the characters in this episode.  Except for Parker.  He might benefit from taking the second formula to calm and anchor his passions.

As always, this post is for informational purposes only.  Please do not make your own medicinal wines for consumption unless supervised by a qualified practitioner.  Happy Slayage!

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