Family (Buffy, Season 5, Episode 6)


In this episode, Tara’s family comes to pay an unexpected visit on her twentieth birthday.  The family believes that she and her mother have demon blood, and that on the twentieth birthday, that heritage will be seen by everyone.  Not wanting to be cat out from her circle of friends, Tara casts a spell which prevents the Scoobies from seeing her alleged demon face.  Unfortunately, it means no one can see any demons at all.  This would have worked in Glory’s favour, who sent demons with ‘cute little suppurating sores’ after the gang.  Tara, however, shows up in the nick of time to undo her spell and be counted as one of the Scooby family by the rest of the gang.

I could diagnose ‘eye screen’, a condition mentioned in the Shen Nong Ben Cao as this week’s case, but I’ve decided to set myself an acupuncture challenge.  Jeffrey Yuen, in discussing the various channel systems of acupuncture, encourages practitioners to try out one particular system for one to three months, on all cases, so that the practitioner will learn just what that system is particularly effective at treating and how it works.  I have decided to begin with the Jing Luo, the ‘Collateral’ or ‘Network’ vessels.  I will therefore stat with treating the demons’ suppurating sores.

The jinluo are considered to be channels which deal with internal factors such as ying qi (nutritive qi), blood, and emotions.  They thus also affect the hun, which is carried by the blood.  Externally, they show up as spider veins and broken blood vessels which are bled in combination with lancing the luo-point of the channel on which they appear.  However, each channel’s collateral vessel (of which sixteen are mentioned in the Ling Shu and Jia Yi Jing) has a particular set of symptoms associated with it, depending on whether the vessel is vacuous or in excess.  In cases of vacuity, the vessel is bled and then moxa is applied to tonify it.  In cases of excess and counterflow, the point is bled until the blood returns to a solid red colour, neither dark  nor bright.  Dark blood indicates stasis in the channel, bright blood indicates heat toxins.

Suppurating sores are an example of fire toxin circulating in the blood.  The Chinese medicine approach to sores is to take them quickly through the full process of coming to a head, bursting, and healing over.  Several herbal formulas have been designed for each state, early, suppuration, and healing.  The first and last often involve tonification of the body as well.

As far as acupuncture is concerned, ordinarily, I would consider a combination of a sinew vessel treatment and a luo vessel treatment in such cases, as the sinew vessels treat well conditions which show up on the skin.  Limiting myself to the jingluo only, however, means I must discover which vessel treats skin conditions.

When in a state of vacuity, the Small Intestine Luo vessel manifests ‘warts’ which are ‘numerous’ and ‘small as small scabies’.  This is the closest description I have found to pus-filled sores among the luo vessels.  The choice does make sense:  apart from the luo association with blood, deficiency in the Small Intestine collateral would imply that the outward movement of TaiYang is compromised.  In this case, the ability of the Small Intestine collateral to fully move out and resolve toxins in the blood leads to sores which ulcerate and exude pus without healing.  The origin of the heat may not be treated by the Small Intestine, but the physiology by which the body can adapt to heat conditions and remain in functioning order will be addressed.

Ordinarily, I use luo vessel treatment for emotional conditions.  In those cases, I bloodlet points associated with the depth of the condition first.  Is the condition just a passing feeling without a known reason, or is it a more lasting mood resulting from a known cause?  Could the emotion be something very deep-seated, either part of a person’s temperament, or possibly something repressed?  In the case of these demons, I’m going to take an educated guess and say that what is going on is pretty deep seated.  Therefore, I will begin by bleeding SJ-5 and KD-4.  I will follow this by directly addressing the luo point on the arm Tai Yang channel, SI-7.  I will burn moxa over the point, either small okyu or small cones, to tonify the point.  I will treat my demonic patients every other day until their condition improves.  If broken blood vessels appear around the sores, I may consider lancing those areas, too.

The herbal treatment is a little more straightforward.  I could alter formulas such that they enter the blood level and are guided to a specific channel, but in this particular case, the nineteenth century formula, Si Miao An Yong Tang (Four Valiant Decoction for Well Being) already treats the blood.  The formula contains jin yin hua (90g) to eliminate fire toxins, xuan shen (90g) to nourish the yin and clear heat, dang gui (60g) to move the blood and nourish the qi, and gan cao (30g) to harmonise the other herbs.   The large doses of herbs must be maintained or the formula loses its effectiveness. To bring the formula to the Small Intestine channel specifically, one could add qu mai as an envoy; qu mai clears heat through the bladder and moves blood.  It also happens to remove the aforementioned ‘eye screen’.  As an envoy herb, only a small amount need be added — given the large doses of the other herbs, 10g would be considered a ‘small amount’.  Take for a minimum of 10 days.  The formula was designed for ulcerated sores which do not heal. The limbs should be dark red, painful, and warm to the touch. The usual diagnosis in such a case is ‘fire toxin leading to blood stasis in the sinews and blood vessels.’ It can potentially be used for gout or other cases of inflammation in the limbs.

As always this post is for entertainment and educational purposes only.  If you or a demonic loved one have a case of ulcers which refuse to heal, and you do not find them to be ‘cute’ or attractive, please consult a qualified practitioner.

Happy Slayage!

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