The I in Team (Buffy Season 4, Episode 13)


Here’s a difficult episode in which to find something to diagnose.  Spike has found a new place to call home, a rather spacious crypt.  He makes it clear to Giles that he’s not interested in helping the gang and appears clearly bored by Giles’ efforts to discuss any ‘higher purpose’ in the new script of ‘neutered puppy’ he’s been given to play by the powers that be.  Unfortunately for Spike, his desire to cut his ties with Buffy and hangers-on comes to nought when Spike gets shot with a tracer by Riley’s men. Spike then runs to the Scoobies to have the tracer removed, but it is deeply embedded in his skin and the small set of impromptu surgeons — Willow, Anya, Xander, and Giles — have trouble extracting it.  Eventually the Scoobies remove the tracer and flush it down the toilet, just in the nick of time, much to the chagrin of Riley’s squad.

Western herbal medicine has several drawing salves which can pull toxins and splinters from deep within the skin to the surface, at which point they can be removed.  A frequently used base for such salves is white pine tar.  Chinese medicine also uses pine tar, referred to as Song Zhi, in external plasters.  The Shen Nong Ben Cao notes that Song Zhi treats all types of sores, flat abcesses, itchy scabs, and and eliminates wind and heat.  As such, it makes a good medicinal to help ward off further infections, soothe redness and itchiness, and resolve pus.  Just be careful to shave hair off the area of application first, especially if the pine resin is covered by a bandage.  Otherwise, when the bandage is removed, the patient will also experience the joys of a wax job added to their usual treatment…

Not all sores which are deep rooted are due to the entrance of an external object.  Among those which are due to other factors are ding chuan, “clove sores.”  The famous Tang dynasty physician Hua Tuo limited clove sores to the head, and claimed their etiology was rooted in emotional factors, drunkenness, indulgence in rich and sweet foods, and excessive sexual desire.  The colours of the sores correlate with the five elements, and each has a separate formula for treatment (often containing, as many of Hua Tuo’s formulas do, various heavy metals such as lead and mercury).  Black clove sores, for example, begin by the ear and cause tightness of the jaw.  Hua Tuo recommends soaking Tu Si Zi and Shi Chang Pu in wine and then applying the tincture to the sore.  Supplementation with another formula to nourish the Kidneys — black clove sores are rooted in the Kidney — is then recommended.  For reference, white clove sores develop on the right nostril and are rooted in the Lungs; cyan, rooted in the Liver, develops on the eyes and causes blurriness of vision; yellow on the gums, and is rooted in the Spleen; and red under the tongue, causing difficult urination and difficult speech, and is rooted in the Heart.

Since Spike would develop a clove sore due to external injury, however, we needn’t go into Hua Tuo’s prescriptions in more detail.  Instead, Wu Wei Xiao Du Yin, ‘Five Ingredient Drink to Eliminate Toxin’ is one formula which can be used to resolve what are currently called clove sores.  This prescription is composed of the toxin clearing herbs jin yin hua (unopened honeysuckle flower), pu gong ying (dandelion leaf), zi hua di ding (violet leaves and flowers), ye ju hua (wild chrysanthemum), and tian kui zi (semiaqualegia root), with the addition of a small amount of rice wine to the decoction.  I might add Huang Qi to the formula, which also treats hard to heal sores, partially because its focus is on the exterior and wei qi.  Huang qi thrusts outwards, moving toxins to the surface in cases of ulcerations.  In combination with Jin Yin Hua, it can also nourish the blood to expel wind toxins which have accumulated and begun to fester into fire toxicity.

Acupuncture in such cases might focus on addressing the underlying complaints — heat in the blood, wind in the skin — though herbal medicine, both internal and external, is preferred.  It would be interesting to see if treating the cutaneous region of the opposite side of the body using a plum-blossom or seven-star needle would be effective.

As always, these posts are for entertainment and educational purposes only.  If you have a non-healing sore and wish to treat it with herbal medicine, please seek out a qualified practitioner.  Happy Slayage!

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