Doublemeat Palace (Buffy, Season 6, Episode 12)


Buffy has found a job!  She gets to experience the American rite of passage into the working class:  She goes to work at the Doublemeat palace, famous for its mystery ingredient.  We see her go through a spot of orientation to the company, interact with co-workers, and meet the customers.  Among the customers is an old lady who seems to eat primarily cherry pies.  After finding a body part or two in the trash, Buffy begins to suspect the mystery sauce is akin to Soylent Green…  Willow, however, returning to her sciencey roots, determines that the mystery ingredient is nothing but vegetables held together with beef fat.

Re-enter the cherry pie eating lady.  After a coworker goes missing, Buffy discovers what’s been eating them:  a worm-like monster emerging from the cherry-pie eating lady’s head.  The monster has paralysing breath, and manages to catch Buffy with it.  Buffy is rendered unable to fight and struggles to crawl away from the demon using her arms to drag her along the floor.  Luckily Willow, who was given a ‘gift’ of ‘free’ magic by Amy, stops by and saves the day.

Clearly, the pie-eating old lady’s fontanel had refused to close when she was a baby.  This is phenomenon has been known to Chinese medicine and is usually treated via the kidneys.  The fontanel is an important concept in alchemy, too, and in the course of alchemical acupuncture, one goal is to open the fontanel in adults.  It is advisable to cleanse the body of worms, first, however, and the cherry-pie eating lady is ample reminder of what can go wrong when these procedures are done without proper preparation.

Since I am at the halfway point of the season, and because I’ve gone through each EV singly,  I will now give two acupuncture channel system diagnoses.  First, I will continue with the EVs for interest’s sake; the EVs have 56 possible combinations, not including variation in point selection on each EV.

The second channel system diagnosis will involve the sinew vessels.

While I am tempted to give the demon-lady a Du and Dai combination because her habit of keeping secrets (secret sauce), and her cherry pie waistline, both of which apply to the Dai Mai, I will opt to look at a Ren and Du treatment.  The point CV-7 opens fontanel in adults, and closes it in children.  If we were to continue the previous week’s alchemical treatment, after relaxing the initiate with massage to open the orifices and perhaps some needling of LU-3 and PC-1, we would proceed to release and disperse blockages in the throat and fontanel, first by taking the pulse and massage the corresponding jing-well points and window to the sky points associated with any channel whose pulse is found to be floating.

As a side note, LU-3, as a Window of the Sky point which governs qi can help settle a patient who is disturbed at what the world has become; PC-1, which governs blood, helps bring in experiences which LU-3’s qi in extending out to the world, has encountered.

After massaging the window to the sky points, we can then move on to using a stainless steel needle at CV-7 and GB-35.  The first opens the fontanel, the second treats throat bi and facial swellings.  In the case of the demon-lady, it seems she was able to open her fontanel with little difficulty; she forgot, however, to  take care of the swelling, much to Buffy’s detriment.  After these blockages are released, the initiation into alchemy can begin.

However, in the meantime, we’ve got a paralysed Buffy on our hands.

The sinew vessel system is divided among the three yang and three yin channels of the body, Greater-Tai Yang, Lesser-Shao Yang, and Yang Ming-Brightness; Greater-Tai Yin, Lesser-Shao Yin, and Attenuated-Jue Yin.  Each channel has a corresponding range of motion and associated month which are used to diagnose pathology.  Range of motion is used in acute cases; monthly associations are used in chronic repeating conditions (e.g. yearly allergies).  The Sinew Vessels generally treat wei-qi issues like inflammation, skin conditions, allergies, colds, and exterior diseases.  They may have some benefit for digestive diseases and insomnia, as wei qi goes interior at night and peristalsis is governed by wei qi.  Inflammation can also be considered a pathological wei qi burning up the yin fluids (jin-thin fluids) on which it relies.

What range of motion does Buffy have?  She’s paralysed.  That cessation of movement, unable to stop and unable to continue, is the movement of the JueYin channel.   The inability to move, paralysis, differs from the YangMing associated movement, which is stopping or ‘digging in your heels’.  The JueYin sinew vessel runs from the big toe up to the pubic symphysis, along the inner portion of the leg.  Palpate along the channel to find sensitive areas, and needle those with a chiseling technique.  Then burn okyu at LV-1.  If using a Vietnamese tradition, the next step would be to needle the ying-spring point of the LV channel (LV-2) and retain that needle for 20 minutes.

Herbal medicine is not usually associated with the treatment of paralysis.  However, some formulas are designed to treat hemiplegia in the wake of strokes.  These formulas typically have blood moving and orifice-opening properties.  For this episode, the Qing dynasty formula Tong Qiao Huo Xue Wan would be applicable to both the demon lady and Buffy.  The formula breaks blood stasis in the head and opens the orifices through its emperor herb, musk (she xiang).  Although acorus (shi chang pu) is often substituted nowadays, musk remains superior in this formula precisely for its ability to both open the senses and move blood.

To treat the sinew vessels, choose herbs which have an association with wei qi — generally herbs which release the exterior — and the particular channel involved.  However, most herbs which release the exterior are associated with the Lungs (skin) or Bladder (tai yang, most exterior channel).  Two options can then be considered:  either adding an envoy herb (e.g. Niu Xi in the case of leg paralysis/ Jue Yin Sinew Vessel disorders), or by thinking of associations the channel’s organ has with other body parts.  The Liver is associated with the eyes; among the herbs which release the exterior, which herbs also impact eyesight?  Ju Hua comes to mind.  Of course, Jing Jie, Fang Feng, and Sang Ye all also go to the Liver channel.

As a side note, those herbs which go to both the Lung (controls qi and fluids) and Liver (harmonises wei and ying qi) are particularly effective in regulating the dispersion and smooth flow of qi and thin fluid throughout the body, and thus can be effective in treating pain conditions in which the pain is neither dull nor sharp, but a ‘pain without pain’ sensation.

As always, these posts are meant for entertainment and educational purposes only.  If you or a loved one are having trouble with your fontanel remaining open or being too tightly closed, or if you have been afflicted by the paralysing breath of a cherry pie eating monster, please see a qualified practitioner. 

Happy Slayage!

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