All the Way (Buffy, Season 6, Episode 6)


This episode’s plot can be quickly summed up:  Dawn goes parking with a vampire on Halloween. She complains of the cold. Chaos ensues. Willow’s growing reliance on magic upsets Tara.

Oh, and Spike was looking for some herbs to warm the blood and make it all spicy…

I’ve mentioned before that the Nan Jing seems to indicate the Luo Mai drain into the EVs.  The site of this draining can occur after the Liver Luo fills, from which the next vessels to receive the pathology are either the Du Mai (LV 5 to pubic bone to testicles; the Su Wen states the origin of the Du Mai is behind the pubic bone below the abdomen (CV-2 region)) or the Yang Wei Mai (LV-5 to BL-63).  That is the direction from Luo vessels to EVs.

The Jia Yi Jing, however, mentions that the Ren and Chong Mai form the seas of the Luo Mai.  Thus, an EV to Luo Mai direction also exists.  In terms of warming, Jeffrey Yuen has noted that in one trajectory of the Chong Mai, the Chong pours into the foot, and from the big toe, warms the network vessels.  Thus, LV-1 is the point to use in warming the blood, after opening the Chong Mai at SP-4.  I would use moxa at LV-1, and perhaps at ST-37 (Sea of Blood, on the ascending trajectory of the Chong) as well.  While warming Dawn’s blood may not be all that advisable given the status of her current date, it is what we will treat her for.

Now, how to warm up Dawn and assist Spike in his quest for acrid, blood-warming herbs?  We don’t really have a category of herbs to ‘warm the blood’.  Usually we think of herbs to remove heat from the blood, such as Mu Dan Pi or Zhi Zi…  We have herbs which warm the interior, and plenty of herbs to cool the blood and stop bleeding.  So how do we figure out what herbs will warm the blood?

One way is to look at the herbs which warm the interior, and see which herbs affect the blood level.  Seems fairly straightforward

Another possibility is to look at herbs which are contraindicated in cases of  bleeding due to heat, heat repletion at the blood level, or ‘dry’ blood.  While potentially tedious, the method does help one think through the pharmacological effects of herbs more broadly than the limited but useful categories into which they fall.

Finally, we could look at the physiology of the body itself, particularly as it meets with the way herbs are used.  We could start by asking ourselves, what is heat in the body?  Heat is yang energy in the body, the complement of yin.  Most herbs to warm the interior also affect primal yang, kidney yang, or sometimes heart yang in some way.  We could also ask, why do we not have herbs to warm the blood?  What is it about blood that makes warming it almost anti-thetical to Chinese medicine?

This anomaly of not wanting to warm blood is particularly strange in a system whose ancient schools focused on cold as the cause of disease.  After all, the doctor wants to warm cold, and cool heat.  But why?  To restore the natural regularity of the body.  That regularity is a harmony between qi and blood.  Qi is yang in comparison to blood.  Qi is the most affected by cold; the blood itself should be somewhat cool in relation to qi.

So heat is yang; qi is yang in relation to blood.  Therefore, qi is ‘hotter’ than blood.  We know that qi is the commander of blood, just as blood is the mother of qi.  The mutually engendering effect is seen in some single herbs and a few herbal combinations.  The combination of huang qi and jin yin hua to engender blood comes to mind.  Huang qi is a well known qi tonic.  Jin yin hua cools the blood.  Together, they nourish the blood.  Dang gui is a single herb well known for its blood nourishing qualities, although it goes to the qi level of blood, as does Chuan Xiong.  Both these medicinals are blood invigorating herbs.  Therefore, in addition to the two searches we noted above, we can add ‘herbs which move blood’ (not herbs which break blood — this is a different physiological mechanism) for additional insight.

While we are thinking physiologically, one other aspect of blood in the body should be considered, this time in concert with a specific category of herbs.  I have to admit, I came to this idea rather late in the thinking process, having mostly male patients.  Among the acrid medicinals which go to the Chong Mai is xiang fu.  Xiang fu is one of the best herbs for treating gynecological disorders, including menstrual pain.  While xiang fu is not properly considered warm, it made me recall the category of herbs which ‘warm the menses’.  While the blood of menstruation is considered to originate physiologically separate from the blood of the vessels, considering that group of herbs is another means of encountering herbs to warm the blood of the body.  The infrequently noted use of herbs to warm the Liver (which stores the blood) would be another physiological path of warming the blood.

Rou Cong Rong, Du Zhong, Xiang Fu, and Dang Gui are each associated with the Chong Mai in Ye Tian-Shi’s writings.  Rou Cong Rong is used in Kd yang deficiency, but it also nourishes essence and blood.  Du Zhong is contraindicated in yin deficient heat conditions, and is used in women with short luteal phases.  We’ve already mentioned xiang fu and dang gui; I would suggest using Dang Gui Wei, which has a stronger effect on the qi.  Ba Ji Tian, another herb which goes to the Chong Mai, is used to dispel wind-cold bi.  It is often combined with Yin Yang Huo, which unblocks the Luo Vessels through assisting yang qi.  Together, the above set of herbs not only treats the Chong Mai and warms the blood, they open the Luo Mai to resolve those emotional issues which are pouring into the curriculum of life.  (As a side note, Ted Kaptchuk has noted the use of Xiang Fu for ‘cold anger’.)

A four herb combination of Dang Gui Wei, Xiang Fu, Ba Ji Tian, and Yin Yang Huo seems appropriate to give a teenage girl.  Thus, I would warm Dawn’s blood with those herbs — which, incidentally, will also strongly nourish the sinews, helping Dawn advance quicking when she trains with her older sister, if Buffy ever allows it.

As always, these posts are for entertainment and educational purposes only.  If you or a loved one find yourselves parking with a vampire in search of hot blood, please see a qualified practitioner.  Happy Slayage!

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