Tough Love (Buffy, Season 5, Episode 19)


Dawn has been skipping school.  If Buffy cannot provide Dawn with a ‘stable’ home as defined by ‘them’ (social workers, presumably), ‘they’ will take Dawn away.  As Buffy and Giles describe the situation, Buffy needs to put her foot down with Dawn.  Buffy pleads with Giles to be the one to put his foot down.  She needs strong feet.  Meanwhile, Willow flies off her feet after Tara is brain-sucked by Glory.

The GB luo point can be used to relieve anger, as I have mentioned in earlier posts on the emotions and luo vessels.  So I will revisit one of the luo channels to treat here  a very physical issue of the body:  the feet.

All the luo channels have at least one trajectory of their own, quite apart from the channel that connects the yin-yang pairs.  These longitudinal trajectories typically run towards the trunk of the body.  The exceptions are the LU luo, which runs to the thumb, and the GB luo, which runs to the foot.  Both trajectories are reflected in the particular pathologies associated with the channel.  The LU luo treats hot hands and stretching (depending on repletion or depletion); the GB luo treats inversion and limpness (again depending on repletion or depletion).  The GB luo vessel ends around ST-42, where it will enter more deeply into the body.

In a previous post, I suggested ‘inversion’ is akin to ‘introversion’; here, however, I’d like to suggest a more material meaning.  Inversion indicates the foot is inverted, rather than everted.  Some might call it being ‘pigeon-toed’.  It can be seen where the tibialis anterior muscle has become tight and the fibularis or peroneal muscles stretched and rigid, causing the sole of the foot, when not weight-bearing, to point sideways towards the midline.  This is an excess condition of the Gallbladder Luo:  the channel and its associated sinews are provided with too much blood, allowing the muscle to stretch more than necessary; but also perhaps with a certain degree of stagnation preventing new blood from coming to the area to restore proper balance.  The treatment, then, is to bleed GB-37.  If limpness were also present, moxa would be added to the treatment, to bring yang qi back to the area and revive it.  I would consider needling or applying moxa to ST-42 as well, to keep the pathogens from moving more deeply into the body.

Herbal treatments for the feet include Dan Shen and Wu Jia Pi, both of which treat weak feet, and Tong Cao (Caulis Akebia) treats cold feet.   I would add Niu Xi to the formula to guide the herbs to the legs and quicken the blood in cases of stagnation.  These herbs tend to the Liver and Kidney channels; so a combination treatment with acupuncture to draw qi and blood from the yin pair of the GB may be more effective than just the herbal medicine alone, in this case.  Qian Nian Jian may also be added if the padding of the feet is causing pressure on the bones, leading to breaks in the skin.  Qian Nian Jian may also be prepared as a soak.

Soaking the feet, in fact, may be one method of hardening them.  The method of hardening the skin of the hands through the use of medicinal soaks is well attested in the external medicine used by martial artists.  Usually, the formulas are given sequentially, as the person begins to train up to more intense levels.  A good beginning formula can be found in Thomas Richard Joiner’s book, The Warrior as Healer.  The first external formula for use in training is called Fang Sou Yi, and consists of  Zhang Nao, Bo He, Bing Pian (9g each), San Qi, Yu Jin, and Dang Gui (6g each), and She Xiang (3g).  Cure the ground herbs in 750 – 1000 mL of vodka (not more than 80 proof).  Cure for at least three months.  Massage the liniment into the skin before and after practice.  After 6 to 12 months, when the student no longer feels tingling from the application of the formula, he or she is ready to move on to the next level.  This formula is for EXTERNAL USE ONLY.  (The Bing Pian and Zhang Nao — borneol and camphor — are toxic when taken internally at doses more than a few tenths of a gram.)

As always, these posts are for informational and educational purposes only.  If you feel your training and practice could benefit from the traditions of Chinese medicine, please see a qualified practitioner. 

Happy slayage!

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