Chosen (Buffy, Season 7, Episode 22)

The final televised Buffy episode offers a very clear Channel Divergence to treat, one which accesses the last of the Extraordinary Vessels, the one concerned with passing on a lineage, with making choices, with encircling a person’s body into a solitary figure — but one which also brings all that to the surface, changing the form of one’s life through manifesting one’s choices.  Willow opens this channel with magic (and it often seems like magic for an acupuncturist to be able to treat multiple people simultaneously, as most clinicians can attest.)  This post, then, is for Willow.

The Channel Divergence I propose treating in this episode is the Kidney CD.  It’s intimate link with the Dai Mai and other Extraordinary Vessels points to its capacity to access not only to the ‘Prisoners of the Dungeon’ (the Turok-han vampires beneath the seal), but also the physiology which will be passed into the Slayer Lineage.

The episode opens with Caleb coming back to life and Buffy slicing him in two, ‘up the middle’, starting with his ‘external kidneys’.  Buffy quotes the openign lines of the Buffy series, and comes to the realisation that it doesn’t have to be that way:  “one in every generation…  She alone…”

Angel and Buffy then have a discussion about having souls, or specifically, about Spike’s ensoulment.  Buffy admits that Spike is in her heart.  Buffy then returns home.  Alone.

Buffy presents her plan to the Scoobies, a plan which will ensure she is not alone.  It is also a plan which entails Willow going beyond the darkest place she had ever been.  Later in the episode, we will see Willow come out the other side, having gone through that darkness, to a place of light.  The Potentials, too, will have to make a choice.  They go to the Hellmouth, and collectively feed their blood to the seal, opening it.  The non-potentials — Dawn, Xander, Anya, Giles, Principal Wood — stay above ground.  Dawn delivers a potent line to Buffy before she enters the Hellmouth:  “Anything you say will sound like good-bye”.  Dawn then walks away.

Descending into the depths while Willow casts her spell, they wait for their transformation into Slayers.  Willow’s spell succeeds.  A great battle ensues, culminating in Spike’s redemption and the collapse of the Hellmouth.  (The collapse of the Hellmouth incidentally disrupts the Scoobies’ plans for what to do after the battle.)

The final lines of the episode contain food for thought in reference to the KD CD:  “We changed the world.”  “We’ll have to find them [the new Slayers].”  And perhaps most importantly, when using the Channel Divergences of Acupuncture for self-transformation, Buffy says:  “Make your choice:  are you ready to be strong?”

How exactly does this episode relate to the Kidney Channel Divergence?  After all, it is usually used for deficient yin conditions from overwork (“lao taxation”) and adrenal exhaustion (a condition in which too much yin has been transformed into wei qi).  Those familiar with the ‘kidney return’ protocol will note that it uses selected points on the KD CD.  Symptoms include empty fire, which is a loss of jing giving way to heat.  The trajectory of the Kidney CD will illustrate my argument more fully:

The channel diverges from the primary Kidney meridian at KD-10, near the knee.  A he-sea or he-uniting point, this point homes to the Kidney organs.  A little known effect of the point is its usefulness in treating mental disorders.

From KD-10, the channel moves laterally to link up with the confluent point of the BL-KD Channel Divergence at BL-40.  BL-40 is the end of a third trajectory on the Bladder Meridian, originating at Du-4, moving outwards towards the lower inner bladder line (to encompass the shu points of the LI and SI) and down towards the knee.  This is one reason why BL-40 is particularly effective in treating low back pain:  it connects directly with the low back.  In combination with Du-26, the entire spine, including the marrow it houses, is affected.  (As a side note, Du-26 also treats mental disorders.)

From Bl-40, the channel follows the BL divergence pathway, passing through BL36 on its way to Du 4.  BL-36 and DU-4 both relate to the ability to stand upright, or as Buffy phrases it: “Can stand up, will stand up.”

From the Du Mai, which some readers may recall is the Extraordinary Vessel of individuation and going-out into the world to meet one’s destiny (Du-4 is called ‘Gate of Destiny’), the Kidney divergent channel then homes to the Dai Mai via BL-23 and BL-52, the shu points of the Kidneys and Will, respectively.  Physiologically, the movement to the Dai Mai allows the channel divergence to move pathogens to the last of the EVs:  wei qi using yuan qi to store or create latency.  The kidney uses fear or cold to repress pathogen, especially fear of dying, thus limiting potential of yuan qi.  It is the ‘dungeon’, reserved for prisoners who couldn’t be killed (due to status, position, lineage, family relations, etc).  Yet the next point in the channel, BL-52, is the gate of will, where one overcomes fear and cold and can make one’s choices.  In a way, this is also the point of a ‘will-within-the-will’, a situation in which a person is acting for one set of articulated reasons, but is actually responding to a much larger, more extensive set of choices about his or her life.  “Make your choice.”

Following the Dai Mai, the KD Channel Divergences goes to GB26, SP15, ST25, KD16, and CV8.  If the Kidneys are a dungeon, the Dai Mai is a closet, into which pour all the unresolved emotional and physiological work entrusted to a particular lineage to work out.  The Dai Mai is the means to transmit a factor to one’s future lineage to work out.  Physiologically, it helps let go of things person is not conscious of (wei qi is not conscious), often by invoking the qualities of the Gallbladder to help let go of fearful, repressed emotions, the baggage we have difficulty letting go of.  It sets the prisoners of the Kidney free.  “Anything you say will sound like goodbye.”  In patients with a KD CD pathology, the Dai Mai reflex area of the hara is often full or filling.

The KD Channel Divergence pathway then follows the primary KD Channel trajectory on the abdomen, which is actually the Chong Mai trajectory.  The KD CD thus accesses the ‘Gate of Destiny’, brings that individuation through the elements of life which need to be resolved, and transmits them within the person to the EV which contains the blueprint of one’s lineage.  It allows all that hidden fear and baggage to meet the emotions for resolution.  The Chong Mai, as both the sea of blood and sea of the 12 channels, is intimately concerned with the full range of human emotion.  “How does it feel, B?”  This is also where the pathophysiology can move from consuming jing to consuming blood in an effort to keep a pathogen latent.  From consuming the attention of one’s life, to sucking up emotional energy, certain pathologies move more deeply into the body.

From the Chong Mai and KD primary channel points, the KD CD moves to CV23 and the Root of the Tongue, having passed through the Heart.  CV-23 is a Yin Wei Mai point, and concerns both continuity — in the case of the Potentials, their continuity with the Slayer lineage, which is their destiny, and all the history and mystery inherent in that lineage — and integrity: how the person remains who they really are in the face of challenges presented by life.

From CV-23, the KD CD then moves along the Jawline.  How does a person integrate experiences into her life?  The jawline is where one can see how a person chews on, savours, and assimilates experiences.  It is also a final place for deposit a pathology:  the teeth hold latent pathogens.   (If the tooth is removed, pathogenic process may still continue, and move to affect the throat.  Gua sha ST5 area, SCM, if this portion of the CD is diseased.)  “I want you… to get out of my face.” (Or “a nice, wholesome, my person has a pierced tongue sort of way”)

From the jaw line, the Channel Divergence moves backwards to BL-10, which connects yin to the head via marrow at lower border of skull.  “It’s bloody brilliant.”  BL-10 is also a Window to the Sky point, and as such draws things up from where they’ve lain buried to the light of the heavens, much as Spike brought light from the ‘trinket’ to the Turok-han.  “Spike”

Treatment would be three-time needling, shallow-deep-shallow, as we want to bring up the slayer-essence latent in each potential.  However, instead of doing a strictly ascending, or even a looping technique (in which one begins with KD-10 on one side, moving to BL-10 and then down the other side, to exit at KD-1 or BL-67), I will take a tip from Spike, and bring the light of a WTS point to a Doorway to the Earth point, and then move in an ascending direction.  Thus, I will begin on the left side with BL-10 and move downwards towards KD-10; then I will move to the right side and begin with KD-10, moving upwards to the nape of the neck.  The idea is to bring the idea to the depths of the person, and draw out what is needed to make that realisation an actual reality.

From here, follow treatments with either the Dai Mai or Chong Mai will help ground the person in her or his new identity.  KD CD treatments combine very well with Dai Mai and Chong Mai treatments, as can be seen from the trajectory of the KD CD.

In terms of Herbal Medicine, many formulas can be used to augment jing.  As for envoys, several herbs go to the Dai Mai and other EVs, but Wu Zei Gu goes to the Dai Mai exclusively (and not to other EVs); to bring the formula outwards to the TaiYang level, Hua Jiao goes to the middle to disperse cold (but homes to the KD channel), and Gao Ben raises qi to the vertex.  Both herbs would be good additions to a martial arts training formula like Jin Feng Jiu, which increases jing and quiets restlessness.  Jin Feng Jiu is composed of equal portions Sheng Di, Shu Di, Dang Gui, Mai Dong, Di Gu Pi, and Yin Yang Hua, with one-half a portion of Sha Ren.  Grind or use whole to make wine, steeping the ingredients for two or three months first.  (Guard the body from losing jing while taking this formula; this is especially important for men.)

* * *

So this completes my series of posts on Buffy the Vampire Slayer and Chinese Medicine.  I originally began this exercise simply because I needed a way to keep my diagnostic skills up between my graduation from acupuncture school and being allowed to practice.  I also wanted a forum for presenting some of the more obscure, ‘superstitious’ aspects from the history of Chinese Medicine out into the world.

I hope you’ve enjoyed reading these posts as much as I’ve enjoyed composing them.  As always, the posts have been meant for educational purposes only.  If you or another person feel you could benefit from the perspective of Chinese Medicine, please see a qualified practitioner.

Finally, all medicine, but Chinese medicine in particular serves a single purpose:  to relieve unnecessary suffering so that individuals can return and live out their lives.  The final line of the series puts this nicely:

“You’re not the one and only chosen one now.  you’ve just got to live as a person.”

Happy Slayage.

Jason Scott Johnson
2013, September 29.
Michaelmas Day.

 

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End of Days (Buffy, Season 7, Episode 21)

The penultimate episode of the televised Buffy series!  ‘Always more’ is a phrase which jumped out at me while watching this episode again:  Chinese Medicine always has more to learn.  Whether it is learning to sense the flow of meridians in one’s own body through physical practices like Tai Ji, Qi Gong, or other martial arts, or how to prepare herbal medicines that you’ve grown yourself, or refining your needling and diagnostic techniques, Chinese Medicine — and the beautiful patients one encounters and treats — provides an endless series of challenges to deepen one’s skill and insight.    

In this episode, after Buffy saves Faith and the Potentials from death at the ends of the Turok-Han, Buffy reflects for a moment with two characters, Spike and Faith.  She tells Spike that the night they shared, with him just holding her, gave her the courage to go on.  With Faith, she discusses the mutual loneliness they each feel being Slayers.  In the instance with Spike, closeness was achieved through simply being present; in the other, closeness was cultivated through verbal expression.  Both are involved in the clinic, as a practitioner develops his or her bedside manner.  In many respects, that closeness with patients, is the single most important aspect of treatment, and is a skill which one must continually refine.  It must be continually refined in the sense that attentiveness is generated constantly in the present moment, in being present with the patient, and in drawing out the patient’s story, or ‘illness narrative’.

‘Does it have to mean anything?’ someone in this episode asked.  The same thing happens in the clinic.  Does an illness have to mean anything?  As practitioners of Chinese Medicine, we are adept at helping patients make sense of their illnesses, even drawing attention to the larger metaphors an illness or meridian disorder highlights.  But does it need to mean anything?  After all, illness is just the body’s physiology; it need not impinge on the character of the person.

Closeness is achieved through the meridian systems of Chinese Medicine in different ways.  In the primary meridian system, the Stomach meridian brings things internally, so they can be ‘digested’ and incorporated.  Pathologically, the ST meridian results transforming external wind-heat into internal heat.  Among the Channel Divergences, the San Jiao or Triple Warmer Channel Divergence brings things interiorly, to the heart.

In terms of its trajectory, the SJ CD moves from ‘100 meetings’ at the top of the head and enters interiorly at ST-12, from which it goes to the HT (and later CV-12, the mu point of the Stomach).  Thus it is the CD of bringing things closer, intimately.  Being a channel divergence, note that bringing things interiorly is not its function; rather, it shapes the form of things coming closer:  from meeting to ‘swallowing’ to the heart and the spirit’s curriculum in life, and then to integration in a person’s post-natal life.

The SJ CD treats skin issues of extreme dryness (Sjorgen’s syndrome, for example), as by this point, the body has lost most of its fluid in trying to keep a pathogen latent.   The dryness can include anything from ascites, celulitis, clove sores and psoriasis, to nodule and lymph node swellings.  fire toxins and wind coming out.  It can sometimes also include organ symptoms, as when endocrine and exocrine function have both ceased. 

The SJ CD trajectory is quite short.  As mentioned, it begins at Du20, the most yang point on the body in terms of being at the top of the head.  As such, it is one location at which wei qi converges.  Wei qi is yang in nature, and Yang qi rises to top.

From Du-20, the channel passes to the Window of the Sky point SJ16, ‘Celestial Orbit’.  All other WTS points evolve from this one (even if their collective name is taken from SI-17).  This means the point has an incredible capacity not only to release the neck, but also to open the portals of perception and connection between the observed external world and the internal world of the heart.  Through this opening, alchemically, the body’s qi and jingshen can move from the heart to the brain and form the celestial fetus. 

From SJ16, the path moves to ST12, the basin of clavicle which allows qi to enter interiorly, before linking up to the SJ channel itself.   In terms of points, CV17 diffuses into SanJiao in middle of chest and provides access to the Heart.  From here, CV12 is the next point, a converging of SJ, SI, and ST meridians.  These three organs are the organs of food transformation:  ST digests with aid of SP and KD, the SJ conducts KD yang to the ST to aid that transformation, and the SI separates the pure from the impure.  Because the SJ trajectory needs a point in the lower jiao, and because it has already linked to the SI through ST-12, soem commentators remark that the next point on its trajectory is CV-4, the mu point of the SI.  From here, the body could attempt to lodge the pathogen back in KD-11.  KD-11 is a doorway to the earth, known for its ability to release latent holding.  In this regard, the SJ CD can be used in reverse, to bring things deeper into the body as well as to release some deeply held pathogens.

In terms of herbal medicine, Zhi Zi containing medicinals tend to treat the San Jiao.  One way to test whether a zhi zi containing formula is appropriate for the person is to press on CV-17 or CV-15; if it is sore, the formula is appropriate.  A simple prescription would be Sang Xing Tang, with Sang Ji Sheng or Di Gu Pi added to direct the formula to the jing as well as the wei levels in the body.  Sang Xing Tang contains equal parts of sang ye, zhi zi, dan dou chi, zhi bei mu, and li pi; twice as much sha shen; and a middling dose of xing ren. 

If one wanted to compose a formula which goes to each of the points on the trajectory in turn, one could start with Gao Ben, which goes to Du-20; then Shi Chang Pu or Chuan Bei Mu to open the orifices of the neck; from there, a heavy descending herb with a Yang-Ming tropism could be selected — like Shi Gao (which also moistens).  The SJ meridian would be covered by Zhi Zi, while Qu Mai, Bai Mao Gen, Dong Gua Ren, Dong Kui Zi, or Deng Xing Cao could be used to drain the pathogen out via urine and tie the SJ relationship to the SI channel.  Sang Ji Sheng, Di Gu Pi, or Niu Xi could anchor the formula in the jing level of the hips.  Key to composing a formula for typical SJ CD pathologies is selecting herbs which also moisten. One resulting formula thus looks like this:

Gao Ben – Release exterior, alleviate pain, dispel wind-damp bi

Chuan Bei Mu – transform phlegm, stop cough, moisten Lungs, dissipate nodules in the neck

(Shi Chang Pu could be used in small amounts, as it is drying, but specifically opens the orifices)

Shi Gao – Drain fire, clear heat, alleviate thirst

Zhi Zi – Drain fire, clear heat, drain damp, cool blood, relieve toxicity

Dong Kui Zi – Promotes urination, relieves pain, moistens the intestines

Di Gu Pi – Cool blood, reduce deficient heat, moisten dryness

Finally, another formula which may be useful in cases of skin infections due to acne, folliculitis, or even diabetes, an internal formula which can be taken is Gua Lou Gui Zhi Tang:  Gui Zhi, Bai Shao, and Sheng Jiang at 9g; Gua Lou Gen and Gan Cao at 6g; 12 pieces of Da Zao.  Gua Lou Gen can be taken at higher dosages as appropriate.  This formula does not specifically target the SJ CD, but instead works on harmonising the interior-exterior relationship of humours in the body.  Gui zhi and sheng jiang release the exterior and relate to wei qi; shao yao and da zao relate to ying qi.  Together they harmonise the ying and the wei.  Gan Cao goes to all 12 meridians, and Gua Lou Gen nourishes the yin of the Stomach and Lungs.  As the root of a plant, it has a tropism for deeper levels of the body, and although it does not impact jing itself, it does benefit body fluid as a whole.  The formula generates fluid to nourish the ying, relaxes the Liver to smooth the flow of ying qi to all parts of the body, and unblocks wei qi so that it can be nourished by ying qi and defend the body appropriately. 

As always, these posts are for educational purposes only.  If you or a loved one have a hundred meetings which you are having difficulty making sense of, please see a qualified practitioner.  Happy Slayage!

Touched (Buffy, Season 7, Episode 20)

How sexuality impacts one’s approach to an apocalypse is explored in this episode, augmented by an excellent soundtrack.   Faith and Wood let out their physical tension; Xander and Anya find comfort in the familiarity of one another’s bodies; Willow and Kennedy finally go ‘all the way’; and Buffy and Spike achieve an intimacy which does not rely on sexual activity, but on simple holding and being held by another person.

Sexual encounters aside, the actual plot involves Faith leading the potentials into a trap:  They discover a bomb in the vineyard moments before it explodes.  Diagnostically, the episode references sweat and scent several times.  Wood refers to how when the First appeared to him, it took the form and image of his mother, right down to her perfume.  Spike tracks Buffy by her scent (despite not breathing; but then, we saw him  waterboarded by a Torakhan earlier in the season, a form of torture which should not have affected a non-breathing creature).

Overall, this episode provides a good opportunity to revisit some Channel Divergence physiologies as they link up with other channel systems.  The diagnostic entry point will be a re-examination of the five odours as they pertain to the CDs and point to other channel systems.  Then I will examine sexual form and function from several channel perspectives.

To review, the five odours and their five-phase correlates among the Primary Channels are generally listed as:

Rancid, like oil that has been too long exposed to air, is associated with the Wood phase of the Liver and Gallbladder.

Scorched, appropriately associated with the Fire phase of Heart and Small Intestine.

Fragrant, Sweet, corresponding to the flavour of earth and grains (when chewed for a long time), is associated with the Earth phase, and the Spleen and Stomach organs.  (The Pancreas are associated with the Spleen in this system.)

Rotten, Rank, or Fishy, like the breath of one who has tuberculosis or a Lung abscess, is associated with the metal phase, and with the Lungs and Large Intestine.

Putrid, Rotting, Decay, the scent of winter’s kill before it freezes, or the smell of wood left underwater and ice for a season, is associated with the water phase, and with the Kidney and Bladder organs.

The Channel Divergences link the yin and yang primary channels of a particular phase of qi (wood, fire, earth, metal, water), and in this way a diagnostic correspondence between patient odour and channel to be treated could be formed.  However, let’s complicate the picture in two different ways.  The first way is to link the CDs with other channel systems by phase.  The second way is to look at the interaction of CD fluids, channel systems, and organ-tissue relationships.

To begin with the first set, but with an eye to the second:

The BL-KD CD is associated with jing, and draws heavily on the Extraordinary Vessel system.

The GB-LV CD is associated with xue-blood, and relates in particular to the mu points and Luo Vessels.

The ST-SP CD is associated with jin-fluids, and intersects with the Heart through its own trajectory, through the Chong Mai’s relationship with blood, and through its ability to nourish the upper sensory portals, including the tongue.

The SI-HT CD is associated with both sweat and ye-thick fluid, which nourishes the Sinew Vessels.

The TW-PC CD is associated with ying qi, and moves heat out to jing-well points through nodes to terminations.  Sinew Vessels begin at the jing-well points.

The LI-LU CD is associated with wei qi,  and begins the cycle of primary meridians.

Bringing the five-phase odour correspondences into the above chart, several resonances between odour and channel systems occur:

Decaying, putrid odours point towards jing and the EVs.  (Note that decay can be associated with the teeth as the SI meridian deposits pathogens there to maintain latency.)

Rancid odours indicate the luo vessels, and emotion left too long un-aired out and unresolved.

Fragrant odours point to the heart and sense of perception.

Scorched odours, that ‘burnt out’ smell, indicate the marrow and sinews may benefit from treatment first.

Rotten, fishy odours suggest that the primary meridian cycle may be most effective in treating the pathophysiology currently underway in the person.

Next, the organ-tissue correspondences as they are associated with CD fluids:

LV is associated with blood and sinews (possibly meaning ‘nerves’); GB governs the bones.  In the CD channel system, the SI-HT CD relates to the sinews.  This comes about in part because SI-9, on the SI-HT CD trajectory, moves blood into the sinews.  The form of the sinews is felt through the movement of ye-thick fluid, the fluid of the SI CD.  The function of the sinews is brought about through blood, the fluid of the GB-LV CD.  The blood relationship of the Liver is more closely linked to the Luo Vessel system here.

HT rules over the mai, the vessels.  This includes the arteries as well as the jing-luo mai, the qi mai, and the bao mai. In other words, the Heart rules over the primary meridian cycle, the luo mai system of collaterals, the extraordinary vessels, and the enveloping vessel.  Absent are the CDs (but all the CDs go to the Heart) and the Sinew Channels (but the Sinew Channels are associated with the SI-HT CD).

SP is associated with the flesh; ST is associated with blood.  Because the luo vessels are about how events have not been ‘digested’  or assimilated by the person in question, the ST-SP CD and the Luo Vessels have a relationship.  Looking at the relation between LV and ST in this respect may be useful, for treatment patterns.  The Yin Wei Mai, a major intersection on the ST-SP CD could bear a certain relationship to the flesh, as the inner aspect of the body’s substance, linking everything together.

LU is associated with the skin, which is the domain of wei qi and the sinew vessels; LI is associated with jin-fluids, which provide the source of wei qi.  The LU, LI, SJ-PC CD and SI-HT CD all overlap with the beginnings of the sinew vessels.  In fact, however, the SI-HT CD is more associated with the end or binding points of the sinew vessels, while the SJ-PC CD is associated with their beginnings.  The LU-LI system is associated with wei qi, which is also the domain of the sinew vessels.  However, because the LU-LI CD is also associated with the Primary Channels, the LU-LI system goes ‘deeper’ into the body than the sinew channels themselves would.

KD are associated with bones, but the GB ‘masters’ the bones; the BL is associated with jing.  This correspondence fits in nicely with the BL-KD CD association with the EVs.  However, the SI-HT CD deposits pathogens in the jing-associated teeth.  The SI is further associated with the thick fluids which nourish jing-associated marrow.  However, the BL-SI and KD-HT channels link up through their TaiYang and ShaoYin associations.

When the topic turns to sexual function, several aspects come to the fore.  First, LV-5, the LV luo point, which is also on the LV CD trajectory, influences libido.  (The BL-KD CD and its relationship to the lineage-linked jing is clearly implicated in sexual functioning.)  Second, the relationship between wei qi and jing shares an analagous relationship to ejaculation:  wei qi is the yang qi which propels jing outside the body.   In this regard, two other CDs come into play, the SJ-PC channel divergence which conveys yang qi (and links the Heart and Kidneys, essential for climax — the moment when Heart Fire is discharged downwards towards the Kidneys) and the LI-LU CD which deals with wei qi.  Third, the SI-HT CD comes into play when sensation is involved; this includes pathophysiologies like vulvadinia and perhaps also hydroceles.   The ST-SP CD comes into play with openness and making sense of the person one is relating to (or not relating to) in sexual intercourse.

Perhaps in a future post, I will take each of the couples as a case study to illustrate the interplay of each channel system.  For now, however, the post is long enough!

As always, these posts are meant for entertainment and educational purposes, and are not meant to diagnose, treat, or cure any particular conditions.  If you or a loved one have recently begun to smell different and you are concerned about what this may mean, please see a qualified practitioner.  Happy Slayage!

Empty Places (Buffy, Season 7, Episode 19)

The season climax gains momentum in this episode:  Buffy gets voted out as leader by the Potential Slayers and several Scoobies, including Xander.   Faith is unwillingly put in the driver’s seat. The decision will have fateful consequences for the Potentials, but will also allow Buffy the space she needs to work alone and obtain a mysterious weapon.  As this episode examines questions about leading and following, we will look at how to lead and follow qi, perhaps touching on entry and exit points, by examining the physiology of the Pericardium Channel Divergence.

The PC CD comes into play after the SI-HT channel divergence has run out of sweat and thick fluid to contain heat from entering the brain and marrow.  The San Jiao CD would have been activated to draw the heat away from the brain and into the body.  attempting to move the heat either to the digestive system (the internal domain of wei qi) or to the Kidneys (because the SJ conducts KD yang throughout the body).  At this point, the PC CD is called in to help move heat from the centre of the body out towards the jing-well points.  This is accomplished through engaging the energetics of ‘roots and terminations’, points along the PC CD which correspond to the terminations of channels originating at jing-well points.

The Pericardium Channel Divergence regulates heat in the vessels and blood.  Symptoms would correspond to wei qi in the blood:  ‘dry blood’, hemorrhagic disorders, disorientation to time and space with fever, reckless flow of blood.

The trajectory begins at PC-1, ‘Celestial Pool’, where the hun-anchoring blood gathers with shen.  From PC-1, the channel moves to three separate points:  CV-17, CV-12, and CV-23.

The first branch goes to CV-17, the lower confluence of the SJ-PC CD.  CV-17 is identified in the Jia Yi Jing as the termination of LV-1.  This means that the wei qi of the Liver circulates its energetics, which began at the jing-well root point, here.  Needling CV-17 will have an effect on the Liver channel.  LV-1 treats uterine bleeding; CV-17 is the mu point of the Pericardium, a Jue-Yin organ like the Liver.  This point is thus very powerful in clarifying the blood and venting heat outwards.  From CV-17, the channel trajectory then flows into the San JIao Meridian, implying that heat is dispersed throughout the three burners.

The second branch moves from PC-1 to CV-12.  This is the Root/ Termination of SP-1.  The wei qi of the Spleen thus concentrates its energetics here, and it should come as no surprise that this point is the beginning of the Lung primary meridian.  The Lung meridian relies on the post-natal qi given to it through the transformative capacity of the Spleen as it digests food.  This point is also effective at nourishes yin, that is, a person’s potential and resources in life.

The third branch goes from PC-1 to CV-23.  CV-23 is not only a Yin Wei Mai point, it is also the Root/ Termination of KD-1.  The wei qi of the Kidney concentrates its energetics here.  KD-1, remember, treats loss of voice — the connexion is to CV-23.  It also treats dizziness and infantile convulsions from heat.  Like CV-17 and CV-12, this point nourishes yin, in this case, the ability to rest in silence and experience the patterns of life which give rise to wisdom and insight into the ‘will behind the will’ which moves a person through life.

The Upper Confluence of the SJ-PC Channel divergence is at SJ-16.  Whether the channel passes through all nodes and then to this point, or whether the channel ends here after meeting up with the San Jiao meridian is a point of debate.  In any event, SJ-16 is a Window to the Sky point.  It is used to treat the shen when the patient exhibits depressive signs, especially when alternating with mania.  Alternating depressed affect and mania is a sign that the body is having trouble regulating heat and cold in the vessels, thus disturbing the shen.  The vessels house the shen-spirit; the blood houses the hun-ethereal soul.

The herbal formulae which treat PC Channel Divergence disorders are those which go to the blood level in the Warm Disease school.  Xi Jiao, Shui Niu Jiao, and even Ling Yang Jiao, combined with cooling herbs like Sheng Di Huang, Huang Lian, and Xuan Shen, are all appropriate.

Another way to look at this episode is to examine the ways in which the channel systems flow into one another, and the points at which several channel systems intersect.  The practitioner uses different needle techniques at these overlapping points, combined with points further on that channel’s trajectory, in order to affect the particular channel level.  Thus, the vibrating technique resonates with the yuan or jing level of the EVs and CDs.  The chiseling and shallow techniques are appropriate for sinew level channels (and plum blossom for cutaneous regions).  Lancets and blood letting relate to the luo vessels.  Needling with rotating relates to the primary channels.  Likewise, herbal medicine uses certain combinations of herbs to enter various levels of the body.  The CD system relies on herbs which go to both jing and wei qi levels.  Often a combination of two herbs, such as E Jiao, or Sang Ji Sheng, Di Gu Pi, and Sheng Di, with Sang Ye are used.

In terms of channels overlapping, above, I pointed out that the PC Channel Divergence connects with the LU and the start of the primary channel sequence, as does the LU CD itself.  The LU CD also interacts with the TaiYang level as a whole.  The SI CD interacts with the sinew vessels, while the GB CD connects up with mu points, eyes, and Dai Mai.  The LV CD connects with several luo points, though none of the luo points on the arms.  The BL CD is intimately related with the jing level and EV system.  Unlike Episode 11, which treated crossing points, this is how the channel systems themselves flow into one another.

In general, the EVs come to the surface with the BL-KD CD, and are filled by the Luo Vessel system.  The Luo Vessels are filled by the primary channels at the luo points, or occasionally through the fu organs.  The primary channels fill Luo points, channel divergences, and organ-shu points.  The primary channels are filled by the sinew vessels.  The sinew vessels can fill either primary channels or channel divergences.  The also connect with EVs at various points.  Together, the channel systems form a matrix within which qi and blood move to ensure the well-being and integration of the human organism with the world around it.

As always, these posts are for entertainment and educational purposes only.  If you or a loved one have suddenly begun to bleed uncontrollably, or are having a crisis of leadership, please see a qualified practitioner. 

Dirty Girls (Buffy, Season 7, Episode 18)

In this episode, the misogynist preacher-servant of the First is introduced.   He stops to rescue a potential slayer from the Bringers.  At first he appears to be a good guy, but we soon see his views of strange women are not predicated on an innocent until proven guilty attitude.  Ultimately, he has a message for the Potential to bring the Slayer.  That message is burned onto the Potential’s neck.  Later, it provides a clue which Spike and Andrew piece together at an old California mission.

This is also the episode in which Faith returns to Sunnydale.  She re-encounters Buffy in a cemetery after leaving the hospital where the Potential has been treated.  Acupuncturists must respect a patient’s choice of medical treatment.  Thus, Faith’s comment as she left Willow with the Potential, namely that Faith and Hospitals don’t really get along, encapsulates that idea quite nicely.  If a patient wants to combine systems of medicine, great.  If she wants one or the other exclusively, so long as she is educated about possible outcomes, fine.  Anthropological research shows that social support networks are among the most determining factors in health outcomes.  Why sabotage a support system when a person needs it most?

Overall, this was a difficult episode to diagnose.  I’m going to extrapolate from the neck burn, however, and discuss nodules along the neck and how neck blockages interrupt the full trajectory of the LU Channel Divergence.   The episode’s recurring image is of ‘Darkness inside’.  Can the LU CD be used to treat that?  Interestingly, one of the key herbs in a neck nodule formula, Xuan Shen, is precisely oriented towards ‘dark’ or ‘mysterious’ feelings in a patient’s life.

The Large Intestine – Lung Channel Divergence contains points which don’t appear if the neck is blocked.  This is particularly the case with the LI CD.  It is worth remembering that not all points are active on a person’s body at all times.  When points don’t appear, or are rendered unworkable, the source of this condition must be sought.  Sometimes, the points are just not active because the person never has trouble with the aspect of life governed by that point.  Other times, the points are not active because qi has become stuck earlier in the channel — or perhaps not enough qi is flowing in the channel to be ‘read’ by the practitioner’s fingertips.  If qi is stuck, phlegm nodules — showing up as ‘kori’ or as hard lymph nodes — often result.  While kori can be needled with a Japanese technique and lightly dispersed, lymph node swellings call for herbal treatment.

(Kori are found by lightly palpating the skin and feeling for hard or tense areas of skin and flesh (but no deeper than that).  Those areas are then needled with a #2 sized needle and rapidly twirled in a dispersing direction.)

A simple herbal treatment for nodules around neck is composed of three herbs: Mu Li, Zhe Bei Mu, and Xuan Shen.  If blood stasis accompanies the condition (indicated by a purple tongue and choppy pulse), add another shell herb, Wa Leng Zi.  If the LU pulse overall seems hasty or lacking in qi, add Huang Qin to tonify LU blood.

Lung Channel Divergence is the start of the primary meridian cycle (for humans, but as mentioned in the last post, perhaps not for vampires).  It is responsible for diffusing qi (wei and ying qi) into the vessels.  In contrast, the Lung organ diffuses qi into the body as a whole. It can be used to tonify qi in cases of LU qi deficiency.  The method in that case is to needle the selected points with a deep-shallow-deep needle vibration technique.

The LU CD trajectory is rather short.  It begins at LU-1, where the LU channel emerges onto the chest.  From there, it moves to GB-22, the canyon by which ye, thick fluid, supports marrow, bone, and brain.  Here, the LU channel can draw on body fluids to form wei qi, or draw pathogens out from the jing-organ (marrow, bone, brain, GB) level and bring those pathogens to the exterior.

From the ShaoYang GB-22 point, the Lung channel divergence then spreads to TaiYang.  This is an odd phrase; TaiYang could mean either the Small Intestine (sinew?) channel, or the Bladder (sinew?) channel, or both.  Either way, it spreads to the outermost channels to provide defence for the body.  In terms of point location, however, several options present themselves.  Since the channel needs a connexion to the heart, options include HT-1 and SI-10 (as in the SI CD); or possibly the TaiYang Bladder points BL-44 and BL-15 (as in the BL CD).  Another possibility is HT-9 and SI-1, as the start of the Arm TaiYang sinew vessels.

From the TaiYang level, the channel divergence then connects to the LI organ.  This could happen at ST-25, but it could also mean moving from SI-1 to LI-11, the he-sea point and binding site of the sinew vessel.

However, the Tai Yang aspect of the LU Channel divergence also branches to connect to the breasts.  This can mean either through JueYin (the LV goes to the genitals and breasts) or YangMing (ST-17 is at the centre of the nipple).  If the channel moves from LI-11 to ST-17, this would allow a connection from the Large Intestine to the breasts along the YangMing channel.

The Tai Yang connexion also branches to the Lung organ; this can occur at LU-3, or at LU-1.  From the Lung, the channel divergence moves to ST-12.  ST-12, in addition to connecting to the diaphragm, releases the neck.  Finally, the channel ends at another neck releasing point, LI-18.  LI-18 is indicated for throat conditions like goiter and scrofula — in other words, cases in which phlegm nodules begin to appear and congest the thyroid and lymph nodes of the neck.  Earlier, when examining the LI Channel Divergence, two points were not on that channel when the neck was blocked.  These two points can help release the neck and open up LI-20 and ST-1 in such a case.

As always, these posts are for educational and entertainment purposes only.  If you or a loved one feel like you’ve been so depleted you’ve reached your last breath, or if you have mysterious lumps in your neck, please seek out a qualified practitioner.

Happy Slayage!

First Date (Buffy, Season 7, Episode 14)

The main thrust of this episode is discovering whether Principal Wood is a good guy or a bad guy.  Along the way, he asks Buffy out on a date.  Xander also finds a date, falling, as usual, for a demon-woman, who abducts him to the Seal.  Meanwhile, Andrew begins to integrate into the Scoobies and tries to get the First talking, without much success.  (She — I tend to think of the First in feminine gender — discovers Andrew is wired and the rest of the Scoobies can hear their conversation.)  The Potentials continue to gather and train, and a new arrival from Southern China is shown around by Giles.  Giles takes her for ice cream, but Chao, the new arrival, is lactose intolerant.  Later, when she cannot sleep, he offers her a glass of milk.  Like Episode 9 (Never Leave Me) then, this episode also features a ST/SP CD issue. In this case, it is Chao’s lactose intolerance.

The Stomach Channel Divergence is used to treat food allergies.  ST and SP CDs symptoms sometimes overlap, as TaiYin fluids support YangMing in its efforts to address pathogenic influences.  However, the ST Channel divergence is affected first.  Its symptoms include IBS, colitis, and hives from food allergies.  As the Stomach heats fluid, the fluid congeals, misting the orifices with phlegm.  Cataracts are one symptom of this pathogphysiology, but so are more acute conditions like conjunctivitis, or ‘milder’ chronic conditions like sinusitis.  In contrast, by the time the pathogen has reached the Spleen Channel divergence, fluids are already quite dry, and thus SP CD symptomology  evinces a dryness of fluids, including dryness of blood, and complicated by phlegm.  Neurological symptoms begin to appear, as the body harnesses phlegm to keep wind from moving to the head.  Nodules may appear along the neck.  The SI-HT Channel Divergence is the next channel into which the pathogen would enter, and in the previous episode I described how neurological symptoms really come to the forefront once the SI-HT CD becomes involved.

The Stomach Channel Divergence trajectory begins at ST-31 or ST-30, the upper transporting point of grains and fluids.  The point treats food toxicity, food allergies, food poisoning, and food stasis by circulating qi through the organs.  In the case of food toxicity, wei qi sometimes clumps in the interior, giving rise to inflammation and heat.  This point also happens to be a Chong Mai point, and therefore also relates to emotion associated eating patterns:  food becoming toxic by being used improperly.   ST 30 is the lower confluence of ST-SP CD.

From ST-30, the channel moves to CV-12, the mu point of the ST.  This point has an intimate relation to fluids, as it is the root of SP-1.  In the primary meridian cycle, the Spleen is responsible for bringing fluid to cool pathogenic heat.  The Spleen circulates fluids through draining and transforming, aided by the Stomach.  This point combines the features of both the ST and SP as they relate to fluid and heat.  The channel divergence, in fact, moves from CV-12 to the Spleen.  CV-12, as root of SP 1, can disperse into SP organ.  The Spleen stores the ying qi, the nourishing qi, and transforms food into post-natal essence.  If it malfunctions, it can send its pathology outwards through TaiYin, to the Lung and skin, leading to hives.  Or it can move the pathogen to the blood.

From the Spleen, the channel divergence then moves to CV-14, the HT mu.  The Stomach masters masters the blood, according to the Ling Shu, represented in this case by the movement from ST-30 (sea of blood) to CV-12 to CV-14.   From CV-14, the channel continues to CV-17, where it penetrates the Heart.

From the Heart, the channel divergence connects with the two Yin Wei Mai points, CV-22 and CV-23.  The Yin Wei Mai affects posture, and persons with colitis or IBS often have a slight crouched posture.  The Yin Wei Mai also treats accumulation, and this would include the development of phlegm nodules.

From the Yin Wei Mai, the next point in the sequence is the Window to the Sky point, ST-9.  This point has a strong effect on the sensory organs.  It also can be used for treating thyroid problems, particularly those which respond to or are influenced by food.  Remember some thyroid conditions cause a person to rapidly gain or lose weight.

The next points are ST-4 (Earth Granary) and the Nose (BiTong and BiYan), the orifices by which the body takes in substances in the form of breath, fragrance, and food.  Li Dong Yuan, the Master of the Earth School, discusses how the Heart can be brought back to joy through these three methods.  Raising the head will also have a natural effect on changing the posture, the outward form of the organs concerned.

After the nose, the channel goes to the next upper orifice, BL-1.  As mentioned in the previous post, BL-1 activates ST-42, ChongYang.  ST-42 is the source point of the Stomach.  It has a close relationship then, to yuan qi.  However, because it also guides or impels the ascension of pure yang to the upper orifices (mouth, lips, throat, nose, eyes), it is closely related to the yang and upward-outward moving wei qi.  BL-1 is the upper confluent point of the channel divergence.

To treat, carefully assess whether the patient has enough fluids to bring the pathogen to the exterior.  This includes assessing the state of blood.  If the patient has neither enough fluid nor enough blood, then treatment should build those up first, using a deep-shallow-deep needle technique on the ST and LV channel divergences first.  Treatment is three days on, three days off, for 18 days.  Carefully explain to the patient the importance of this schedule.  This is important, as the pathogen may start to come out, and as it does so, inflammation will ensue.  Continued treatment will hasten the resolution of the pathogenic process, while discontinuation will likely mean the pathogen goes back interior, and continues to consume the patients humours.

Part of the treatment is to open the orifices, but before that, to release the exterior in this type of case, induce sweating.  If that has no result, then move to treatments which open the portals — especially with phlegm conditions like chronic sinusitis and  conjunctivitis.  Herbal formulas which release the exterior are quite common — Ma Huang Tang being the first to come to mind for this sort of situation.  Although Ma Huang Tang is generally used for TaiYang or wind-Cold conditions, it is effective as inducing sweating and releasing the exterior.  A milder formula would be Sang Su Yin, which uses mulberry leaf to release the exterior while moistening dryness.  Adding musk to Ma Huang Tang, or Shi Chang Pu to Sang Su Yin would create a dual action exterior-releasing, portal-opening formula.

As always, these posts are for educational and entertainment purposes only.  If you or a loved one have food allergies, colitis, or other digestive trouble, and you think that Chinese medicine may be beneficial to you, please see a qualified practitioner.

Happy Slayage!

The Killer in Me (Buffy, Season 7, Episode 13)

Kennedy finally manages to make her move on Willow in this episode.  To Kennedy’s shock, Willow turns into Warren as a result of a rather passionate kiss.  We later learn that the transformation resulted from a curse Amy had placed on Willow (setting up a conflict for Season 8), though Amy did not choose the form Willow would take.  The magic decided on the ‘Form the soul requires’ to use Amy’s phrase.  Slowly, Willow begins to adopt Warren’s characteristics, even to the point of bringing a gun to the Summer’s household and almost replaying the scene which led to Tara’s death.  Ultimately, Kennedy manages to reverse the spell with another kiss, and Willow resolves her feelings of guilt about potentially betraying Tara by moving on with life, and love, in this world.

The other storyline in this episode is that Spike’s chip has begun to misfire, causing him severe pain.  He and Buffy seek a way to have it fixed or removed.  Giles takes the potentials into the desert to meet the First Slayer.  The potentials fight over who gets to drive, and Buffy comments that she bets Giles is really regretting letting his CA driver’s license lapse after he returned to England.  (As a curious side note:  I just happened to have recently renewed my CA State driver’s license, after being away in England.  the little driver’s ed booklet notes it is illegal in CA to put people in the trunk of a vehicle.)

This episode presents a perfect means to remember that Channel Divergences treat Form, not Function: Willow becomes Warren, outwardly.  She takes Warren’s form, but she still functions as Willow, at least at first.  In contrast, Spike’s chip is misfiring: function, not form. No CDs for him.  Amy, though, seems to have a functioning BL-KD channel divergence.  Her  Jing-essence met wei qi in such a way that she was able to see herself, even if that only happened when she hit rock bottom. For Amy, the channel divergence functioned to weave together karma (rock bottom repercussions), lineage (from her mother’s magicks), and form (Amy did turn herself into a rat at one point, now that I think of it…).

Although outward form may be thought of as a jing issue, in fact, the root of Willow’s pathology lies elsewhere, in the shen, and by extension, the Heart.  Yet all Channel Divergences go to the Heart, so to make a diagnosis, first consider the ‘trigger’:  Kennedy’s kiss.  Willow has cold feet, or cold limbs.  (A psychoanalyst might even have ventured that Willow wants to be ‘frigid’ sexually.)  The trigger shows that the pathogen current resides in the sinew vessels, affected with cold.  Then, look at where the pathogen will move next:  Willow is starting to act like Warren:  the shen, affect, and brain will take on the pathology.  All elements — the source-spell, the trigger, and the progression — point to the Small Intestine – Heart Channel Divergence as the appropriate channel to treat.

In general, the SI-HT Channel Divergence is where the marrow-nourishing ye-thick fluid begins to be consumed.  Wei qi heat enters the marrow, chasing the shen and hun spirits, giving rise to increasing pyschosis, schizophrenia, or epilepsy.  Regarding the SI CD specifically, ye is drawn away from the muscles, resulting in cold limbs (sexual sense), muscle atrophy, MS, and Raynaud’s symptoms.  The cold limbs result from lack of wei qi, as the wei qi has gone interior and can no longer circulate exteriorly to keep the body warm.  Motility and mobility of muscles is compromised as they are no longer nourished by either blood or ye-fluid.  Sinew wind symptoms, such as seizures, convulsions. and epilepsy begin to manifest.

It should come as no surprise then, that the SI CD trajectory contains a variety of points which relate to the sinew vessels, marrow, and wei qi.

The channel begins at SI-10.  This point moves blood into sinews.  Here, the body can harnesses qi to move blood and expel wind, or pathologically, blood and fluid are drawn away by this point from muscle in order to keep pathogenic factors latent.  Indications for using this point include a loss of strength, and numbness.  The body needs blood to hold onto feeling.  It is a useful point to add to treatments for MS.

From SI-10, the channel moves to HT-1, ‘Ultimate Spring’, before reaching the confluent point of the SI-HT Channel Divergence at GB-22.

GB-22 is also the confluent point of yin sinew meridians of the arm.  Both the sinew vessels and the channel divergences pertain to the terrain of wei qi, and this point is a place where chronic conditions often enter the body.  GB-22 was also once a contender as the point for the Great Luo of the Spleen.  It therefore connects to the luo vessels, to blood, and to the Da Bao.  Not only is the association with the sinews and blood continued at this point (an association usually thought of as related to the Liver’s mastery of the sinews and it’s relationship to storing blood in order to nourish the sinews), but at this point the relationship between blood and essence is established:  Blood enters essence to help give rise to marrow.  GB-22 is the canyon by which ye-thick fluid supports bone, marrow, and the brain.

From GB-22, the channel moves to CV-17 and CV-14:  Wei qi homes to chest for sleep, and these to points guide the channel to the heart.  From the heart, the channel enters the diaphragm and the small intestine organ, going to CV-4.  CV-3, nearby, is the meeting of the leg yin sinew vessels and the end of the crura of the diaphragm.  The channel then rises back upwards to ST-12.

ST-12, a very common point in CD trajectories, is the basin into which trauma to the SCM — and therefore also to the Window of the Sky points — drains.  This pertains to both physical and psychological trauma.  When something cannot be ‘redeemed’ or connect to what comes from heaven, it goes interiorly at this point.  Alternately, trauma to concepts of redemption cause a counterflow into the heart, helping to create the ‘antihero’ archetype.  I mentioned the importance of neck releases in my treatment of the sinew vessels in Season Six — so again, the relationship of the SI Channel Divergence to the Sinew Meridians.

The next point on the trajectory is SI-18, the confluent point of yang sinew channels of legs.  Finally, the channel ends at BL-1, which brings the pathological dryness of a ye-depleted SI CD to the brain.  The result is that wind in brain begins to chase the shen and hun.  Brain fever is one possible symptom of this pathophysiology.  If BL-1 is too sensitive to needle in such a case, ST-42 may stand in its stead.

My favourite herbal formula to nourish the ye-fluid is Zeng Ye Tang.  To treat the sinew vessels, Niu Xi (for the legs) or Sang Zhi (for the arms) should be added.  Sang Ji Sheng pairs nicely with Sang Zhi to form a CD envoy combination, although Di Gu Pi, which cools the blood, and Sang Ye which releases the exterior, also make a good pair.  For a stronger focus on the sinews, Chuan Lian Zi, which goes to the SI meridian and regulates LV qi may also be a useful addition.  Qu Mai goes to the SI meridian and moves blood, to resolve wind symptoms.

As always these posts are for entertainment and educational purposes only.  If you or a loved one have suddenly become your own worst enemy, please seek qualified assistance. 

Happy Slayage!

Potential (Buffy, Season 7, Episode 12)

This episode is all about finding the remaining potentials, committing to the mission even if you are not a potential, and getting prepared. The episode begins with Buffy training the potentials and teaching them the tools they’ll need in order to survive:  how to fight vampires, how to get information from your demons, how vampires lair.  Meanwhile, Willow and the non-combatants attempt to locate the Potential who lives in Sunnydale.  Willow’s spell seems to indicate Dawn is the next Potential, but the episode later reveals Amanda to possess that role.  The episode ends with a scene between Xander and Dawn, as they discuss how difficult it is to be part of a group in which everyone else seems to have ‘superpowers’, but you yourself do not.

In acupuncture, the Channel Divergences are like the potentials:  they are the groundwork of the primary meridians, but are not yet the primary meridians themselves.  This is particularly the case with the Large Intestine/ Lung Channel Divergence.

Physiologically, the Channel Divergences can be thought of as unfolding jing into the full person:  First, jing is provided by the parents of a person, and the jing embodies the Extraordinary Meridians.  The first CD, that of the Bladder-Kidneys begins to move this jing externally, to meet the world, wei qi.  Jing develops into blood (GB-LV CD), then blood begins to provide fluid for the opening of perception (ST-SP CD).  The fluid thickens, nourishes the brain, marrow, and sinews (potentially including the sinew vessels, through the formation of couli, pores), by providing the body with sweat, the yin of the Heart which anchors the shen in the Heart and in the Brain (SI-HT CD).  After the sinews and couli are in place, the nodes of the primary channels begin to form, and the San Jiao mechanism begins to combust jing to provide for the solid and hollow organs (SJ-PC CD).  Then the final transformation of jing into wei qi occurs, and the primary channels themselves begin to form with the LI-LU Channel Divergence.  The LU meridian then begins the cycle of twelve primary meridians, and itself gives rise to the sinew and luo vessels.  The sinews move exteriorly, the luo move pathogens interiorly, and back to the yuan level of the EVs.  The CDs continue to mediate between wei qi and yuan qi, however, and the organism functions as a complex, integrated being.

These transformations are able to occur because the Channel Divergences provide points at  which yin substance and yang transformative capacity meet.  The CD confluent points are exactly that, the confluence of yin and yang, the place where the yin and yang of a particular element come together.  As I pointed out in the previous post, no other channel system really allows for that sort of meeting.  (Although one could argue that the Sea of Yin, Conception Vessel, and Sea of Yang, Governor Vessel, do meet.)

Preparation, like training, can also mean tonification, making something stronger and more resilient.  The Channel Divergences are not only useful for removing latent pathogens and bi-obstruction syndromes from the joints; they also can be used to tonify the humours associated with them. The manner in which the CDs are able to make a pathogen go latent relies precisely on this physiological trait of augmenting particular humours.  The needling technique in such cases is deep-shallow-deep, with vibration at the deep levels.  The points are needled on each side, beginning at the start of the channel, then needling bilaterally the next point in the sequence, and so on, until the upper confluence is reached.

(As a side note, the humours, like Xander and Dawn, support the emotion and virtue (or power) associated with each of the five phases.  I will explore this theme later, in Season 7’s episode 16.)

In the Channel Divergence system, the LI CD is the perfect channel for overall tonification in absence of pathology.  It is also used in cases when yang has collapsed.  If Buffy really wanted to strengthen the Potentials, nourishing yang and securing the primary meridians through the LI CD is a good place to start.

The YangMing mechanism of physiology, associated with the LI and ST and characterised by ‘closing to the interior’, relies on the internal branches of primary meridians.  At this point in the Channel Divergence system, only wei qi is left to maintain a pathogen’s latency.  Jing, Blood, and Fluids have already been consumed, and finally the San Jiao-KD yang has failed.  As will be discussed in a later post, the San Jiao mechanism is ‘lit’ by wei qi at the first breath after birth.  This implies that as a pathogen consumes humours from within, the San Jiao’s humour will be consumed before wei qi, which initially came from the exterior.

LI/LU CD symptoms include spontaneous sweats depleting the LU, HT, and ST of fluid,  poor, poor digestion, and the collapse of yang (in the primary meridian cycle, collapse of yang begins to appear at the Bladder meridian, though the exact symptoms are slightly different; in the primary meridian system, the body still has fluids, possibly even phlegm.  Kidney jing may have begun to degrade and enter the bloodstream as cholesterol.  Here in the CD progression of pathology, the body is dry).  Oddly, the LI-LU CD is good for treating hair loss patterns.  Perhaps this is because of its relation to wei qi, the cou li, and exterior portions of the body, like hair.

To explain the process more chronologically, Lung breath moves to the Large Intestine wei qi to circulate interiorly; the interior circulation of wei qi then ‘light’s the San Jiao mechanism like a flame receiving oxygen.  Eventually, the process of supplying organs with jing and qi reaches the outermost sinew vessel, the TaiYang-Bladder channel.  At this point in the pathophysiology of the patient, the SJ mechanism has failed due to a full combustion of jing-fuel.  Therefore, the treatment principle is to build essence and yin to combust and keep the patient’s physiology going.  Once essence and yin are built up, treatment can be followed up with a front mu/ SJ mechanism treatment.  (I will elaborate on the SJ physiology at birth in Season 7’s Episode 17, which will examine the front mu points as they relate to the SJ mechanism.)

The LI CD trajectory is rather short.  It begins at LI-15, ‘shoulder bone’, from which it then splits into anterior and posterior branches.

The anterior branch moves from LI-15 to ST-15, ‘room screen’.  This is a reflex point for SP-15, and is good for treating lumps in the breast.  Because SP-15 is good for treating fullness in the abdomen, I would wonder if the point may also have an effect on uterine fibroids and other masses in the lower warmer.  From ST-15 the channel the moves on to ST-12, the lower confluent point of the LI-LU CD.

The posterior branch moves from LI-15 to DU-14, the meeting point of all yang channels, and a point well known for expelling wind; the point is closely associated with the body’s wei qi.  From Du-14 the channel goes on to GB-21, ‘shoulder well’.  This point has the capacity to release the jing well points of all the arm primary meridians.  Again, the association with wei qi is present.  From GB-21, the channel moves on to ST-12.

ST-12 is the lower confluence of the LI-LU CD, and is the place were qi enters interiorly.  The point has associations with the diaphragm, which draws qi inwards.  It should come as no surprise then, that from ST-12, the channel meets the Large Intestine organ, which can be interpreted as plunging to ST-25, the LI mu point.  From here, the LU meridian begins to take its shape.  The Lung primary meridian begins in the middle warmer at  CV-12, then goes to ST-25 before moving upwards to CV-13 and CV 17 (where wei qi homes to) and emerging at LU-1.

From ST-25, the LI-LU Channel Divergence moves to the Upper Confluence at the Window to the Sky point, LI-18.  This point is also called ‘Shui Xue’, ‘water hole’, which in the case of the CD physiology, indicates the relationship of wei qi to fluid.

The LI CD continues upwards from this point, if the neck is not blocked.  From LI-18, the channel moves to LI-20 and ST-1, from where a pathogen can be expelled externally.  LI-20, of course, is located by the nostrils, and is associated with breath.  ST-1 is associated with taking in and digesting the sight of the world outside.

Points are needled deep-shallow-deep in order to tonify, or if the body has enough resources to expel a pathogen, needling can be done in a shallow-deep-shallow manner.  However, as mentioned above, at this point in a pathophysiological case, the body is very weakened.  Both fluids and essence need to be built up.

Several herbal formulas can be used to moisten dryness:  Zeng Ye Tang for thick fluids; Yi Wei Tang for ST fluids; Mai Men Dong Tang for sweat; Sang Xing Tang for thin fluids.  Because at this point the organs themselves are weakened, I would suggest using another Shen/ Hammer herbal formula for what they call “Organ system weak”.  A diagnosis of organ system weak can be indiacted when the entire pulse is slow and deep, and the left (HT-LV) side is feeble or absent. The formula consists of twelve herbs:

Shan Yao and Ji Nei Jin at 12g;

Dang Shen, Bai Zhu, Shan Zhu Yu, Fu Ling, Da Zao, Sang Ji Sheng at 9g;

Yuan Zhi, Yu Jin, and Bai Shao at 6g, and

Rou Gui at a dose indicated by the state of KD yang.

On the other hand, if a formula is needed for training purposes, several formulas can be taken both before and after working out.  I’ve already given a post-workout formula, however, so will not revisit it here.

As always, these posts are for educational and entertainment purposes only.  If you or a loved one have been weakened by illness, please see a qualified practitioner.

Happy Slayage!

Bring on the Night (Buffy, Season 7, Episode 10)

Andrew has been captured by the Scoobies, and sits tied to a chair, unresponsive to all external stimulation.  According to Dawn, who wants to slap him, pour ice water on him, try boiling water on him, Andrew might be in a ‘fugue state’.   Meanwhile, Willow tries a simple spell, but the First highjacks Willow’s spell.  Willow’s own personality was nearly lost, as the First or Dark Magicks started to take over Willow’s will.  Even after the spell ends, Willow can still feel the evil inside her.

Elsewhere, in the basement of Sunnydale High, Buffy encounters Principal Wood, who is surprised to see her up and about.  Buffy tells Wood she got some cream for the oozing that was going on while she was sick.  For other people, ‘things are backing up’.  They receive news about the Watcher’s Council, and Anya theorises that all the stuffy repression of the British Watchers’ Council caused them to explode.  The weight of saving the world is beginning to fall squarely on Buffy’s shoulders alone now.  Despite that loneliness, she is told she should feel ‘no pressure’.

Technically, a fugue state is not a state of insensibility, but one of amnesia.  However, failure of the senses and sinews is a characteristic sign of the Heart Channel Divergence.  After the body has used up jing, blood, and Stomach fluids to contain a pathogen, the next humour available to the body is sweat.  At this point, the pathology has moved from being acute and has instead become a chronic condition.  Sweat is the yin and fluid of the Heart.  Physiologically, the sweat and vessels of the Heart support the wei qi of the arm TaiYang (SI) vessel, and the sinews themselves.  (The Heart controls the mai, or vessel-pulses of the body, while SI-10 moves blood into the sinews to nourish them.)  The Mai, being an extraordinary organ, are filled with yuan qi; thus, we see the relation of yuan qi and wei qi through the medium of the Heart Channel Divergence.  As the Heart begins to lose its yuan-level resources, it begins to close off the upper orifices; the shen can no longer peer out into the world, leading to failure of the senses.  As the sinews lose the blood and fluid which animate them, they, too, begin to fail.

The trajectory of the HT CD begins at HT-1, the emerging point of the Heart meridian, and a place well known as a source of sweat in the body (the palms of the hands, HT-8, is another well known sweaty area).  From HT-1 the channel then moves to GB-22, the lower confluent point.  In previous ages, GB-22 was a contender for the Great Luo of Spleen point; thus the point has a very close relationship with blood and jing.  The Great Luo of the Spleen is the last of the luo points before they pour into the jing-supplied Extraordinary Vessels.  GB-22 is also a good point for addressing ye-thick fluids, as it forms the ‘canyon’ which from which ye-thick fluid nourishes the marrow, bones, and brain.

From GB-22, the channel enters the heart and emerges at CV-17, the mu point of the Pericardium, or Heart Protector.  CV-17 is both where wei qi homes in and a place where both the Kidney and Liver circulate their energetics.  Again, wei qi and the previous humours are meeting here, and thus CV-17 can be a place where the pathogen can be redirected to another humour or channel.  From CV-17, the Heart Channel Divergence travels upwards to CV-23.  CV-23 is known for its ability to nourish yin; in a subsequent post, I will explore its relationship to KD-1.

From CV-23, the channel travels to the tip of the tongue (and thus an inability to speak or articulate the voice is a primary indication for using this ‘point’), before dispersing onto the face and closing at the Upper Confluence of BL-1.

At BL-1,  the channel has moved a pathogen upwards and can bring heat into the brain here (manifesting in mania, hysteria, brain fever, or a loss of senses); yet it also has the capacity to release heat trapped in the four limbs.  Thus, physiology and pathophysiology are closely entwined.  How the body deals with the pathogen at this particular point relies very much on the resources available to it:  can it draw on sweat to release heat in the four limbs?  Or is the body’s fluid depleted, in which case the next set of CDs the pathogen will encounter is the SJ-PC Channel Divergence.  The SJ CD begins at Du-20, at the top of the head.  The pathogen will have passed through the brain to that point and into the next channel set.

In terms of Herbal Medicine, this Channel Divergence is closely related to Ye-thick fluids, the humour of the Small Intestine CD.  The formula Zeng Ye Tang is used for ‘things backing up’, i.e. to relieve constipation, and could make a nice supplementing formula for a person with dryness of sweat.  I would add musk or Niu Huang to Zeng Ye Tang if I were attempting to revive someone’s senses, however.

More specifically to the Heart, Shi Gao is a good single herb to generate fluid when the Heart is too much yin due to the ‘big sweat’ aspect of Yang Ming disease.  Yu Ping Feng San and Mu Li San are also effective at astringing the surface to stop the leaking of sweat; however, neither is especially good at generating fluid.  In Yu Ping Feng San, Bai Zhu drains dampness, but it does also have a tonification aspect.  In Mu Li San, which is particularly good for addressing day time sweating, no fluid generating herbs are included, unless one substitutes honey-fried Huang Qi for plain Huang Qi.  The original formula for Yu Pin gFeng San, in fact, calls for honey fried Huang Qi.

Of course, to guide a formula to the CDs, a wei qi oriented herb (in this case, Huang Qi) and a yuan-qi oriented herb are added to act as envoys.  Ye Jiao Teng might work, but I’d add Sang Ji Sheng as well, for a trio of Huang Qi, Ye Jiao Teng, and Sang Ji Sheng.  Finally, E Jiao might actually be the best item to add to any of the above formulas.  Being skin, sweat, and essence combined, E Jiao is an excellent way to address the concerns of nourishing and astringing.

As always, this post is for educational and entertainment purposes only.  If you or a loved one are sweating so much you’ve lost your senses, please seek qualified assistance. 

Happy Slayage!

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