Lies my Parents told me (Buffy, Season 7, Episode 17)

This episode sees two maternal backstories coming into open conflict, that of Principal Wood, and that of Spike.  Principal Wood’s mother had been a Slayer, and was killed by Spike sometime in the era of Afros and Disco.  (Spike ended up with her coat as a trophy.)  Spike had a different experience of his mother:  Soon after his own siring by Drusilla, Spike decided to make his mother into a vampire.  He unleashed a demon, who is thrilled to be rid of Spike.  Before Spike kills her (Spike seems to be a chronic matricide, it seems), Spike’s mother has a monologue in which she describes William as ‘slithering from her’ when he was born, calling him a ‘parasite’.

I figure I should have at least one post in this entire show which mentions gestation and parturition in Chinese medicine.  Overall, Angel is a better show for that topic, given the series of strange pregnancies that Cordelia and Darla experience.

In terms of acupuncture, the EVs are typically the channels most associated with gestation.  This applies both to the formation of the fetus as well as to the mother’s conception of the baby and holding the pregnancy to term.  As for labour, acupuncture on the primary channels can be used to induce labour (these points tend to be contraindicated during pregnancy, though whether or not they are strong enough to induce a miscarriage is debated).  When a fetus is malpositioned, moxa is burned at the end of the Bladder meridian, averting a breech birth situation.

Physiologically, herbal medicine has more to say on the topic of pregnancy.  Formulas abound for treating everything from difficulty in conceiving, ‘restless fetus syndrome’, difficult labour, eclampsia, retained lochia, bleeding after childbirth, and difficult lactation.

When it comes to the Channel Divergences, the most appropriate channel to discuss within the framework of early life is the Gallbladder Channel Divergence, particularly as its trajectory mirrors the San Jiao mechanism which is lit by a baby’s first breath.  The trajectory of the front San Jiao mechanism, like the GB CD, encompasses all the mu points.  Mu points are where the post-natal (qi from breath and food) supports the prenatal.

As developed by the Nan Jing (Classic of Difficulties) school, the San Jiao mechanism along the back establishes the shu points of the BL meridian. Along the front, it establishes the three Dan Tian. This occurs when the umbilical cord is cut and the infant must depend on its own breath for survival. The front mu points follow the creation cycle; the back shu points follow the control cycle. Pathology will progress either along the creation cycle (and follow the Fu organs) or the control cycle (and follow the Zang organs).

In other words, as mentioned in last week’s post, mu points are where blood supports jing.  For this reason, the GB-LV CD, which deals with blood, follows the BL-KD CD, which uses jing to contain a pathogen.  By the time a pathophysiology has progressed this far, the jing needs to draw on blood to support latency.  Harnessing the energetics of the mu points is one way to accomplish that.

As a theoretical side note, vampires, when sired, are sired through blood, not jing.  If they were to have an equivalent of mu points, they would more likely be related to Stomach, and to points where body fluids or perception (both associated with the upper orifices) support blood.  Humans enter this world through taking their first breath with the Lung organ.  Vampires re-enter through the Stomach (or possibly SP — an organ of incomplete transformation).  I wonder, would their primary channels then begin with the ST and end with LI?

In any event, I am examining Spike’s birth as a human, and to do so a little bit of information about the Gallbladder CD trajectory is in order.

The channel trajectory begins with GB30 (Huan Tiao).  This is one of the star points of Ma Dong-Yuan, and is used in alchemical acupuncture.   It is the point which allows a person to jump to heaven.  In this capacity, it also helps release grief.  In that case, what is grieved for is allowed its redemption.  Forgiveness is often the resolution of mourning.

From GB-30, the channel progresses anteriorly to the margin of the pubic hair at CV-2 or CV-3, where it meets up with the Liver primary channel.  That meeting continues onwards to the next point in the sequence, GB-25, the KD mu point.   In terms of five-phase energetics, this is the point at which wood supports water, or thought of another way, at which LV blood supports KD jing.  In terms of external medicine, this is where the sinews (yang of yang) support bones (yin of yang).  This is where the GB gains its ability to master the bones, as indicated in the Ling Shu.

From GB-25, the next point is LV-13, the SP mu and the mu point of the solid organs.  LV-13 also drains into GB-26, Dai Mai.  Looking at the physiology from a spirit-point perspective, this is the point at which mulling and pensiveness drain into the EV which will pass those unresolved thoughts to future progeny.  It can work in the opposite direction, though too, as the GB is an organ of courage and decisiveness.  In Channel Divergence physiology, this is where the GB CD is trying to draw up yuan qi of Dai Mai.  If the Dai Mai is full (i.e. cannot hold more latency), the mu points then fill, and the mu points become the areas of the body in which latency is held.  The GB CD brings blood to Mu points to support jing in its holding on of latent pathogens.  This creates mu point sensitivity.  Japanese acupuncture systems often use mu points diagnositically, relying on this type of pathophysiological process.

From the SP mu point, the channel then goes to GB-24, the GB mu point.  This point allows the pathogen and the channel to enter the GB organ.  From there, the channel passes into the Liver organ at the LV mu point, LV-14.  LV-14 is the point where the LV stores blood.  (In primary channel physiology, the combination LV-8 and LV-14 can be very effective in treating blood-deficient insomnia.)

The channel then diffuses out of the Liver and into the Heart, reaching CV-14, the HT mu point.  The physiological relationship here is one of LV blood supporting HT blood, yin, and qi.  That support continues at PC-1, the next point in the trajectory.  There, the LV is supporting jue-yin blood.  PC-1 and LV-14 are effective points in helping the body to clarify blood, in terms of six-channel energetics.  For reference, PC-1 is not the usual mu point for the PC, CV-17 is.  CV-17, however, is not on the GB Channel Divergence trajectory.

From PC-1, the channel passes upwards to ST-12, the doorway through which pathogens pass inwards or move outwards.  The channel then meets up with ST-9, ‘Welcome to humanity’.  This is a sea of blood point, so again, the relationship at this window to the sky point is one of blood supporting jing.  The point combines well with GB-30, for releasing emotions and holding patterns to heaven.

After ST-9, the channel goes to the root of the tongue at CV-23, meeting with Yin Wei Mai along the way.  If the mu points have already been filled, or if one of the upper orifices is blocked, the GB Channel Divergence will find a place to keep the pathogen latent at the next point, ST-5.   To release that latency, gua sha both this point and the SCM.  Note that releasing the pathogen in this manner may move the pathogen into the ST primary meridian, prompting a fever.  The wise physician would make certain that the ST channel is tonified enough that it can move the pathogen upwards and outwards.

After ST-5, the channel passes through CV-24 and then to GB-1.  GB-1 treats  ‘Jie’, that which binds up the eyes.  The channel has an affinity for the upper eyelids.  It is the first Channel Divergence to go to upper orifices themselves, passing by the ears on the way.

Ordinarily, I would think of combining a GB channel divergence treatment with Dai Mai EV treatments, or possibly a San Jiao mechanism oriented treatment.  Earlier, I mentioned that the LI CD is the wei qi which lit the San Jiao mechanism.  That implies a physiological relationship between the LI CD and GB CDs.  The treatment counsel of gua sha on ST-5 and the SCM, with the resulting possibility of using the primary channel of the ST to move the pathogen outwards — often through the LI primary channel — again highlights this connexion.  The two channels can be combined in a treatment session if the patient has enough blood to support jing, and yang is in need of resuscitation.  I would then follow that combination of treatments with a plain and simple San Jiao mechanism treatment, presented in the chart below.

The chart below describes the sequence of wei qi entering the body to ‘light’ the San Jiao fire and move jing into the respective organs, beginning the cycle of self-sufficient generation in a human body.  To treat a person, first needle ST-12, then, while retaining needles at ST-12, needle LU-1.  Needle ST-25 next, and remove the needles from ST-12.  Needle GB-25 next, and remove the needles at LU-1.  Continue in this fashion until the trajectory is completed.

At one point, after GB-25, the San Jiao mechanism splits, moving both upwards and downwards.  The treatment can either retain the needles at GB-25 and progress through either downward or upward movements to meet at CV-12, or the treatment can move simultaneously through both upward and downward trajectories.  I have not used this treatment often enough to determine which is more effective.

As always, these posts are for entertainment and educational purposes only.  If you or a loved one have discovered that your mother is a vampire and you wish to sever your umbilical attachment to her in order to live your own life, please see a qualified practitioner.

Happy slayage!

Point Organ Mu Element Explanation
ST-12 Earth The basin into which breath goes from the nostrils, to enter the interior of the body and travel towards navel, where umbilical cord has been cut.
LU-1 Lungs Metal Breath travels to navel from ST-12 via this point. Breath “fans” the “pilot light” of KD Yang
ST-25 Large Intestine Metal Breath establishes connexion between LU-1 and ST-25.
GB-25 Kidney Water Goes to Dai Mai and connects to lower back (BL23, Du-4). Energy moving to KD. From here, qi goes up and goes down.

Downward movement:

Upward Parallel:
CV-3 Urinary Bladder Water Qi is still in water Needle LR-14, GB-24 while retaining CV-3
CV-5 San Jiao Water/ Fire SanJiao links Water with Fire Retain CV-17, and needle CV-5
CV-4 Small Intestine Fire Retain CV-14 and needle CV-4

Upward movement:

Downward Parallel
LR-14 Liver Wood Water moves into Wood CV-3
GB-24 Gallbladder Wood From Wood qi moves to the centre and Fire – PC CV-3
CV-17 Pericardium Fire Energy comes inwards from nipples (GB-24) and up from CV-3. Wood into Fire CV-5
CV-14 Heart Fire Heart is sovereign of ZangFu CV-4

Back into centre:

CV-12 Stomach Earth Energy returns to earth, the centre and the influential point of fu organs Retain CV-12, and needle LR-13
LR-13 Spleen Earth Influential point of Zang organs San Jiao ends at Influential points of Zang Fu

Normal Again (Buffy, Season 6, Episode 17)

This episode begins by picking up with some fall-out from the previous episode.  Xander appears at Buffy and Willow’s door, and Xander makes a speech to his friends that perhaps anyone ever left by a man might want to hear.   The, of course, the plot thickens.  Buffy is stuck by a demon whose venom causes her to shift in an out of consciousness.  Or rather, she shifts between two different conscious states, each with its own plotline: Buffy-the-Slayer in the Buffyverse and Buffy-Institutionalised-in-Los-Angeles in a real-life setting.  Willow makes a diagnosis after giving Buffy an antidote (which unbeknownst to Willow, Buffy poured out beside her bed):  ‘Buffy, you’re brain is cooking’.

The question, of course, is whom should we treat?  Who is the ‘real’ Buffy?  The institutionalised Buffy or the Slayer Buffy?  And how do the sinew vessels interact with psychology?

Let’s start with herbal medicine treatments, first. Willow seems to think that Alkanet root and Nettle leaf would make an effective remedy.  Alkanet is typically used for making dye, although Culpepper notes it can be made into an ointment and used to treat inflammations and St Anthony’s fire.  St Anthony’s fire can refer to several different modern diseases, but in Britain, it tended to refer to inflamed skin conditions which Chinese medicine might characterise as fire toxins in the blood.  Nettles are well known in European herbalism for their blood purifying properties.  It can be made into an ointment with myrrh, and is said to open the pipes of the lungs to expel phlegm.  Culpepper notes that both Alkanet and Nettles are good antidotes for stinging creatures.  This may be the reason for Willow’s choice of these two herbs in particular.  (For the curious, see http://complete-herbal.com/culpepper/nettles.htm and http://botanical.com/botanical/mgmh/a/alkan024.html for more information. )

I personally would favour Wang Qing Ren’s formula, Decoction to Wake from the Nightmare of Insanity, Dian Kuang Meng Xing Tang. Its ingredients include:

Tao Ren (Semen Persicae) 24g
Gan Cao (Radix Glycyrrhizae Uralensis) 15g
Su Zi (Fructus Perillae Frutescentis) 12g
Chi Shao (Radix Paeoniae Rubrae) 9g
Chai Hu (Radix Bupleuri) 9g
Da Fu Pi (Pericarpium Arecae Catechu) 9g
Chen Pi (Pericarpium Citri Reticulatae) 9g
Mu Tong (Caulis Mutong) 9g
Sang Bai Pi (Cortex Mori Albae Radicis) 9g
Ban Xia (Rhizoma Pinelliae Ternatae) 6g
Xiang Fu (Rhizoma Cyperi Rotundi) 6g
Qing Pi (Pericarpium Citri Reticulatae Viride) 6g

Wang Qing Ren’s formulas are noted for treating blood stagnation, and this is one of at least two formulas for treating blood stagnation in the head, particularly when that blood stagnation obstructs the orifices.  (The other formula is Tong Qiao Huo Xue Wan.)  In this respect, both Willow and I agree that some agent has caused an obstruction in the orifices, leading to heat.  Willow suggests phlegm, and this formula also drains phlegm.  However, this formula has a very strong effect on blood stagnation due to the high dosage of Tao Ren — it ‘purges’ or ‘breaks’ blood stagnation to open the orifices and clear heat.  It also contains qi moving herbs to transform phlegm.

The formula has been the subject of several studies for the treatment of mental illnesses such as schizophrenia.   For those interested in how Chinese Medicine treats mental illness, check out this article by Heiner Freuhof:  http://sinimed.co.il/documents/info2/pdf/treatment%20of%20mental%20disease%20by%20heiner%20fruehauf-JCM.pdf

Regardless, giving this formula to both or either Buffy will resolve the dilemma of which Buffy, which universe, is ‘real’.

In terms of acupuncture, for a sinew treatment, I would select the Arm Tai Yang (SI).  This channel is indicated when the eyes have been closed a long time before being able to see, according to the Jia Yi Jing (Scroll 2, Chapter 6).  The channel begins at the little finger and travels up the arm to the scapula, levator scapula muscle, and on either side of the ear, ending at the outer canthus of the eye.  Treatment should particularly focus on opening Du14 and the Window to the Sky points on the neck, before proceeding to palpate the channel for sore points.  These points should then be treated with either a hot-needle or with thread moxa.

That treatment may not touch Willow’s diagnosis, however.  Her diagnosis of a brain being ‘cooked’ reminds me of brain fever, a sensation which used to be experienced by people dying of AIDS in the 1980s and early 1990s.  That condition could be seen as wei qi consuming marrow or invading the jing level.  For that, the Channel Divergences are most appropriate.  However, both the Arm Tai Yang and the Foot Shao Yang sinew vessels meet at the outer canthus.  Since the Foot Shao Yang sinew vessel connects to the Gallbladder primary channel, I might consider needling GB13 (Ben Shen), GB11 (Tou Qiao Yin), GB19 (Nao Kong), GB 39 (Shu for Marrow) in order to draw out the wei qi from the jing, and then direct that qi outwards along the sinew vessels by needling with stone needles at the sore points, before closing with threat moxa at SI1.

Another place of intersection for the both the GB and SI meridians is at SI-17, formerly located on the GB channel.  SI-17 functions as the Window to the Sky point for the Gallbladder channel, and thus has a particular influence over the marrow, brain, and shen (due to the SI-HT-shen connexion).  Cupping that point, perhaps with some bloodletting, may be effective at bringing wei qi to the surface in cases where a person’s shen is disoriented and harassed by heat and blood stagnation affecting the orifices.

The physiology of the above treatments rely on the role wei qi plays in ‘automatic’ perception.  It’s role in the brain is to bring external information inwards, but without conscious integration; that integration and storage is the role of the marrow, which is the union of jing and shen, experiences and character (the ‘real’ meeting the ‘ideal’ which creates a person’s ‘destiny’ in life).   When wei qi usurps the role of the clear yang of shen, a loss of lucidity ensues.  When shen cannot link with jing because wei qi has taken that place, the union of wei qi and jing causes brain fever.  This heat stagnates and consumes the very yin marrow.  Invigorating blood and clearing heat are therefore called for.

 

A third option would be the Tai Yang connexion of SI and BL channels.  While the SI sinew vessel ends at the outer canthus, the BL primary channel emerges at BL-1, which is where wei qi exits the body after its interior passage at night.  This leads us to consider the Extraordinary Vessel treatment appropriate for Buffy:  A Yin Qiao- Yang Qiao combination.  The Qiao Mai deal with how people consciously see things.  The Yin Qiao is inward looking:  How does Buffy see, or want to see, herself?  The Yang Qiao is how Buffy sees the world.  The two need to be connected and harmonised.  Therefore, needle KD-6, begin with the Yin Qiao, then BL-1, and close with BL-62.  BL-62 is called ‘Shen Mai’, the ‘extending vessel’, and is known for its ability to clear the shen-spirit.  (The character for ‘shen’ in the point name is different from the character ‘shen’ meaning ‘spirit’ or ‘habitus’.)  This treatment would need to be carried out over the course of 3 or more months, and while it may help ease Buffy’s cooking brain, is more geared to reorienting her to the world and her destiny in both worlds, the inner and the outer.

As always, these posts are for entertainment and educational purposes only.  If you or a loved one wish to explore Asian medical treatments for mental illness, brain fever, and integrating the interior life with external demands, please see a qualified practitioner.

Happy Slayage!

Forever (Buffy, Season 5, Episode 17)

As the Scoobies attempt to create a life without Joyce, Dawn teams up with Spike in an attempt to resurrect her mother.  We are introduced to a character who becomes pivotal in the final episode, Doc, whom we realise may not be all that he seems when Dawn glimpses his lizard-like tail.  Doc offers Dawn a tonic to help with grieving in lieu of the resurrection spell.   Meanwhile, Buffy admits to keeping busy because if she stops, then her mother is really gone.  Grief from the perspective of luo vessel physiology, then, will be the topic of this post.

Grief can be treated with needles at LU-7 (the luo point of the Lungs), due to the association of the metal phase (to which both the Lung and Large Intestine belong) with grief and sadness.  Grief due to a known cause can be treated with a luo vessel treatment using SP-4 and PC-6 to ‘activate’ the ying qi level of considered or ‘digested’ perception, followed by LI-6.

In terms of luo vessel dynamics, repletion of the LU luo vessel manifests as ADHD, a ‘hot hands’ feeling of constantly needing to be busy — not unlike Willow’s constant change of wardrobe in the previous episode, and very much like Buffy’s constant need to be busy or else it means her mother really is dead.  It seems to be no surprise that the two — the physical action of keeping busy, and the internal sensation of grief — should go together.  Xander seemed to intuitively recognise the benefits of bleeding the luo point — LU-7 — for grief, also in the previous episode.  ‘It hurts.  It means you’re alive.'(In depletion, the Lung luo is associated with yawning, stretching, and frequent urination — a sort of ‘boredom’ syndrome.)

For grief, both LU-7, and LI-7 are both useful.    Physically, the Large Intestine luo deals with tooth decay and a constant mulling over events.  This, too, seems related to grieving:  what could I have done differently?  Tooth decay is often seen as a sign that a pathogen is being stored away, and is trying to come out in some other way.  Metaphorically, this can mean the person is feeling grief, and instead of crying, the grief is coming out through thoughts kept within — although that metaphorical interpretation may fit better a depleted luo vessel symptom.  In depletion of the Large Intestine luo, the person experiences ‘cold teeth’, or perhaps we would say the person’s teeth are ‘set on edge’, and an obstructed diaphragm — again, a feeling in grief when one cannot seem to catch one’s breath, or when the crying just won’t come.

One could conceivably choose to simply bleed both LU-7 and LI-6, and any spider veins along the trajectory of each channel (the LU to the thenar eminence and the LI to the shoulder, jaw, lower teeth, and ear).  I might moxa not the luo point, but the source point, turning the treatment into a source-luo combination.  The Lu would draw on the yang and yuan qi of the Large Intestine to move grief outwards, perhaps in the form of tears (the LI controlling jin-fluids), and the LI would use the yuan and yang qi of the Lungs to close the body off to pathogens progressing more deeply into the body (the function of Yang Ming is to ‘seal off’ the body).

For a tonic to treat grieving, I could recommend several — I’ve given plenty of formulae for grief in previous posts.  Here, I will focus on envoy herbs for blood formulas and note that Huang Qin goes to the blood level of the Lungs, and thus would harmonise with other blood-oriented formulas.  For the Large Intestine luo, I would suggest Ce Bai Ye or Huai Hua.  Ce Bai Ye has the benefit of also clearing the Lungs.  The root of Prunus Japonica treats tooth decay, as does the seldom used Shu Yang Quan; perhaps a better choice for the LI luo vessel in cases of tooth decay is Mu Zei, used in European herbalism to purify the teeth and fill in shallow cavities.  Do not use Mu Zei in cases of kidney stones or gout.  The other option for a herb which moves blood and goes to the Large Intestine is Da Huang.  Both Da Huang and Huang Qin combine well together, and could conceivably be used in moderation (with a blood moving formula like Xue Fu Zhu Yu Tang) for someone who has pent up grief which will not come out, but which still causes much pain.

As always, this post is for educational and entertainment purposes only.  If you are grieving, or know someone with ADHD whom you think would benefit from Chinese medicine, please see a qualified practitioner.

Superstar (Buffy Season 4, Episode 17)

The Jonathan episode!  It is amazing how much difference a change of clothing, hairstyle, and habitus — the way one holds one’s body and moves it through space — makes.  Actors are consummate artists in this respect, able to shift from one habitus to another convincingly.  Body language reveals much about a person’s character.  Sarah certainly did it in the previous episode, when Faith had taken over Buffy’s body — Sarah adopted the mannerisms that Eliza used to portray Faith.  In so doing, she demonstrated the history Faith had lived through, how she felt about herself and the world.

If the key words of Chinese medicine are change and transformation — the harmonious movement of qi and blood in the person (giving a shen spontaneously in tune with its environment), the transformation of qi from one phase or type  into another — than this episode demonstrates exactly the result at which treatment in Classical Chinese medicine aims.  While acupuncture and herbal medicine will generally have an effect on the body regardless of a person’s belief in their efficacy, treatment proceeds much more quickly if the patient is also working on self-cultivation.  Medicine and self-cultivation go hand in hand, regardless of what sort of medicine one is using.  Both Riley and Jonathan demonstrate such synergistic work in this episode.

Obviously, in Jonathan’s case, his self-cultivation was a short-cut, and thus unstable and short lived.  He cast a spell which altered the history of Sunnydale (if not other places).  In the process, he not only begot a monster which embodied his darker aspects, he also came to some realisations about the process of healing.

Both Buffy and Riley ask for relationship advice from Jonathan.  What Jonathan tells Buffy then, she tells him again at the end.  Jonathan recognises the truth of that advice for himself as well.  Things take time.   It does not happen all at once.  But it is worth it, in the end, if one extends effort slowly, consistently, in small steps.  As the tattoo of one friend reads, “A little bit, every day, with devotion.”

Forgiveness is a form of healing.  For me, I often view forgiveness as a resolution of grief.  In terms of Chinese medicine, lack of forgiveness is a holding pattern, a type of stasis in a body which benefits more from movement.  With movement, change and transformation can occur, grief can be resolved, and though life may never be the same, it can flourish once again.  Indeed, from the point of view of Classical Chinese Medicine, it is best not to return to the state in which one found oneself before trauma, since some weakness in physiology allowed illness to take root.  The goal of medicine, then, is to move one through the pathology into a stronger, more stable and malleable place.  This takes time, attention, and effort.

Buffy and Riley allude to such a process when we learn that Riley has taken control of his own diet.  Although he was told the food he received from his superior officers was no longer spiked with drugs, he decided to take no chances, and has been making his own food (or getting it elsewhere).  Preparing one’s own food is a basic form of self-cultivation which supports the work done in the clinic.  Qi Gong is another example, and in previous episodes we’ve seen that Riley does push-ups upon arising, despite the fact that they are not ‘regulation’:  he does them for his own benefit.

The key insight of self-cultivation, that things take time, leads to the question of making a prognosis in Chinese medicine.  How is a prognosis made?  What factors influence a prognosis?  Prognosis of death or recovery was one of the fundamental aspects of ancient Chinese medicine, at least if the manuscript texts are to be believed:  they constantly state what is a positive sign, and what signs indicate death.

Prognosis in Chinese Medicine is dependent on location, time, and communication.  Location refers to where in the body the illness is located:  is it external (e.g. wind-cold manifesting as the common cold); in the channels or muscle layer; in the hollow organs (i.e. GI tract), the solid organs, or the extraordinary organs?  Does it affect the wei qi, ying qi, blood, or jing levels?  The more superficial the location, the better the prognosis.

Time refers to the amount of time the illness has been in the body.  The more acute the case, usually the better the prognosis, except in cases of hemorrhagic fevers, which are extreme heat penetrating to the depths of the blood-jueyin level.  In cases where the illness has been prolonged, this is often an indication of emptiness of some aspect of the body’s own defensive capabilities, and thus is a sign that healing will take longer, unless such emptiness is also addressed.  In this regard, the patient’s own resources also factor into prognosis.

Finally, communication refers to two aspects:  the patient-practitioner communication, in which the patient describes to the practitioner what is going on with the body and emotions contextually, and where the practitioner (in addition to paying attention to what the body is trying to communicate via its pulses, abdominal conformation, and channel changes) clearly articulates what can be done to help the treatment progress even outside the clinic (e.g. walks in the fresh air, regular bed times, avoiding greasy food, when to take herbal medicine, etc).

The second aspect of communication has to do with the body’s own internal communication.  This internal communication is often referred to as harmony between the wei and ying qi.  The two levels of qi are in communication with one another.  Yin and Yang are not separating but mutually transforming and supporting one another.  Change and transformation are allowed to happen because these different aspects of the body are communicating clearly with one another, and not getting muddled by the advance of a pathogen.  The body knows what resources should be drawn upon in order to effectively expel the invading pathogen, or to smoothly rectify pathophysiology.

An example of miscommunication in the bodily physiology is when the Large Intestine becomes yin or fluid deficient.  Since the fluid associated with the LI is the jin or thin fluids, and since the jin circulates with wei qi, the body will draw both jin and wei qi (defensive qi) inwards in an effort to make up the depletion of jin in the Large Intestine.  However, this qi is quite hot, very yang in nature, and the result is actually inflammation — and symptoms like IBS.  Herbally, we would want to use something which redresses this imblance and floats the qi outwards again, while nonetheless still moistening the intestines.  Sang Ye, Jie Geng, and Qu Mai (for the SI) all fit this description.  They either release the exterior or float outwards, and are associated with the Intestines, the Lungs, and usually also moisten dryness.  Combined with careful observation by the patient leading to behaviour modifications to prevent future mishaps, the use of herbal formulae or acupuncture can help rectify the current patho-physiology, and  allow healing can progress apace.

As always, this post is for entertainment and educational purposes only.  If you feel you could benefit from learning other ways to cultivate your life according to the principles of Chinese medicine, I would refer you to Claude Larre’s The Way of Heaven and The Secret Treatise of the Spiritual Orchid, both published by Monkey Press.  These books are commentaries on key aspects from the medical canon, rather than texts belonging specifically to Daoism, Confucianism, or any of the other hundred schools which flourished during the Han and pre-Han dynastic periods.  Happy Slayage!