Once More, With Feeling (Buffy, Season 6, Episode 7)

Ah!  Buffy, the Musical.

This is the fun episode when all the secrets come out.  Spike confesses his feelings for Buffy, problems in Xander and Anya’s relationship are aired for the first time, and Buffy tells Willow she wasn’t in a hell dimension.  And that’s just the Scoobies.  The rest of Sunnydale celebrates more mundane events in glorious, show-stopping, chorus-line fashion (‘They got the mustard out!’).  There’s even a bit of self-conflagration towards the end.  Clearly, the whole town has come down with the classic symptoms of a yang ming disorder.

I treated spontaneous combustion due to Yang Ming disorder in Season 1, two years ago.   Besides, this season, I’ve committed myself to treating conditions using the EVs. What then can we do?

To review a bit on physiology of the Extraordinary Vessels (EVs):  when luo vessels overflow, that is, when the blood-emotions cannot harmonise the pathogen-stressor to the body, the EVs take over.  The EVs try to harmonise the pathology with one’s life in a different manner.  They don’t tuck it away until later in the manner of the Luo Vessels.  Nor do they feed the stressor with resources, as do the Channel Divergences.    The EVs operate on a more fundamental, ‘karmic’ or ‘curricular’ or even ‘destiny’-based level (and thus have a more inter-relationship with other people and the world aspect), while the CDs are more strictly related to the  individual in question.  How do EV treatments work to resolve the pathology?  Good question.  In part, they reposition the individual with respect to the world.  Such a repositioning is tied to the YangMing process of digestion-assimilation of what is consumed in the world.

Let’s look at this for a moment.  We know that in the physiology of post-natal qi, the basis of the primary channel system of acupuncture, the primary channels originate in the middle burner, the Stomach (CV-12).  ST qi goes to the Lungs (emerging at LU-1), but also continues to throat — hence the physiology underlying the singing associated with Yang Ming disorders. While one could make an initial association with the Ren Mai, I would suggest Yang Qiao Mai may be the best bet, if we take the more modern approach by Wang and Robertson, for understanding YangMing disorders from the perspective of EV physiology.

First, I would note that the Qiao Mai are the luo vessels of the EVs.  They are the EVs most attuned to emotional pathologies, secrets, and unresolved issues with one’s life.  As luo vessels, they bear an intrinsic relationship to blood.  the Ling Shu states that if blood is disordered treat the Stomach channel.  The Stomach channel has a role in influencing how a person incorporates outside influences.  So we have a relationship being drawn between the Yang Ming channel and the Qiao Mai, through the physical medium of blood and the functional aspect of blood in carrying emotions.

The relationship is closer than that, however, and includes direct channel intersections.  The trajectory of the Yang Qiao Mai traverses the three yang channels of the leg (Tai Yang Bladder, Shao Yang Gallbladder, and Yang Ming Stomach) and as it ascends, incorporates the arm Yang Ming (Large Intestine) channel.  The Yang Qiao Mai thus includes in its uses the relation between foot and arm Yang Ming channels, particularly as they meet in the upper body (face and shoulder:  LI-15, LI-16, ST-4, ST-3, ST-1). In contrast, the Ren mai contains CV-12, related to the Stomach/ Yang Ming organ and the origin of the primary channels.  If the organs were the focus, however, I would consider the relationship of Yin Qiao Mai to the smooth muscle tissue of the gut, from throat through colon; in this respect more related to Spleen or Spleen channel functions in TCM.

What is the treatment approach, then?  To treat the Qiao Mai as a luo vessel, I would bloodlet a few points.  Because Yang Ming disorders are hot, the blood would likely be bright and flow easily.  I would bleed the points BL-62, LI-16, and ST-4 (rather than ST-3, as ST-3 would encroach a little on the SI luo vessel’s trajectory to the cheekbones).  For treating men, I would bloodlet the right side; for women, the left.

Of course, an acupuncture treatment of these same points, using a reducing method, could clear the channel as well.  In that case, I would add in ST-1 or BL-1, to open the orifices in order to vent heat and restore the normal flow of fluid.  If the patient seemed to have  a blockage due to food stagnation or other ST organ disorder impacting the Yang Ming channel, I would start with the Ren Mai (LU-7, CV-12) and then work backwards along the Yang Qiao Mai (ST-1, LI-16, BL-62) to clear the channel.  Opening point on the left, closing on the right.  Intermediate needles on both sides.

Acupuncture treatments are nice, but this episode presents a public health crisis afflicting Sunnydale.  Herbal medicine is much easier to prepare and dispense widely.  What herbs should the newscasters suggest?  Bai Hu Tang is classic for Yang Ming disorders. Does it have any relation to jing or the EVs?  Can we guide it to the jing or EV-level?  What about taking a jing-oriented formula and direct it to the Qiao Mai? Adding herbs which guide through the legs (origin of the Qiao Mai) and to the eyes (end point of the Qiao Mai), of course.

Ye Tian-Shi’s herbal recommendations for the Qiao Mai include generally Bai Shao, Zhi Gan Cao (note Shao Yao Gan Cao Tang has a tropism for the calves), Da Zao, Wu Wei Zi, and Shu Di Huang.  Wu Wei Zi generates fluid (Yang Ming-Large Intestine terrain) and astringes the Lungs, thus following the upward path of qi outlined above.  While Wu Wei Zi does not go to the eyes, it calms the heart, which assists the shen to shine from the eyes.  Wu Wei Zi thus has an effect on jing and shen, while travelling along the ST-LU corridor of qi.  In addition, because of its ability to help a person let go of other’s wills, it has an affinity for the dynamic quality of the Yang Qiao Mai as a vessel concerned with how one sees the world:  what should be taken on, what is my own in this world, and what is someone else’s?

To complete the formula, I would add one more herb which Ye Tian Shi specifies for the Yang side of the Qiao Mai:  Yuan Zhi.  Yuan Zhi harmonises the Kidneys and the Heart, the jing and the shen.  It clears phlegm away and more important, opens the orifices.  The resulting formula is Shao Yao Gan Cao Tang with the addition of Wu Wei Zi and Yuan Zhi.  The formula relaxes and balances the sinews, lends stability and suppleness to the legs, the grounding of the individual, while clearing the channels of phlegm to free the flow of jing-shen between the path one walks and the path one sees.  An alternate composition not using exclusively EV-oriented herbs would be Shao Yao Gan Cao Tang with Jie Geng and Xing Ren, both of which regulate the throat and affect fluid physiology of the ST and LU channels.

As always these posts are for educational and entertainment purposes only.  If you or a loved one find yourself suddenly singing and dancing uncontrollably, please see a qualified specialist or agent, so that you can make money from an otherwise medicalised talent.

Happy Slayage!


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