A New Man (Buffy Season 4, Episode 12)

Ah, Ethan Rayne.  Always bringing Giles’ past to Sunnydale, whether Giles asked for it or not.  In this case, Giles had been feeling old and useless after Buffy’s birthday surprise party, and the discovery that everyone else in the Scooby gang knew Riley was part of the initiative, led by Maggie Walsh.  Just when Giles could use a reminder of his youthful craziness and vigour, Ethan appears.  While Ethan gives Giles of reminder of the motivations which led Giles to make the choices to becoming the man he has become, Ethan also slips a potion into the pint (or one of many pints) the two shared in commiseration at what in America passes as a pub.  Fortunately for Giles and Buffy, Ethan stayed on to gloat over this rather unique hangover.  But what if he hadn’t?

In Kampo, the Japanese version of Chinese Herbal Medicine, hangovers are considered, rather unsurprisingly, a fluid pathology.  When fluid stagnates, it can generate heat and dryness, one hell of a bad feeling, leading to irritability and mindless rage (however human one tries to be about it).  From a Kampo perspective, however, most hangovers don’t generate too much heat.  Instead, what has happened is nobose, fluid counterflow.  In other words, all the fluids, which should have percolated down to the lower warmer and been excreted via the urine, instead become trapped in the head and middle warmer.  A more exact image might be that the fluids reversed their normal flow and rebelled upwards, not like a ‘mist’ as the San Jiao mechanism is described, but as edematous fluid.  Becoming trapped and interfering with the qi mechanism of the body, they become ‘water toxins.’

Japanese businessmen have a simple cure for this problem (which seems to afflict them more often than other professions in Japan):  they carry small packets of Wu Ling San.  This formula is composed of Zhu Ling, Fu Ling, Ze Xie, Bai Zhu, and Gui Zhi.  The first three ingredients all drain dampness; Ze Xie is particularly noted for this action.  Fu Ling and Bai Zhu help tonify the Spleen, so that it can better transform the dampness.  Gui Zhi opens the channels, easing the flow of fluids out of the body.  Gui Zhi also often acts as a sort of ‘aspirin’ in relieving mild pain and headaches.  (Several people at my college have tried this remedy and swear by its efficacy, which is quite immediate.)

The single most effective herb for hangover is reputedly Ge Gen Hua — the Kudzu flower.

The root of the problem, though, could be addressed with some He Shou Wu, Ju Hua and Gou Qi Zi — essentially the same issue that presented in Season 2’s Band Candy…  It seems Giles is having a relapse of a deeper pattern of KD and LV deficiency.

In terms of acupuncture, GV-25 is said to restore sobriety, though I have only known of one classmate who tried this (unsuccessfully) the night we finished our student days.  A fuller treatment, which takes into account the Japanese notion of counterflow, would involve the luo vessels.

The Luo vessels are indicated specifically in cases of counterflow, and among them, BL-56, mentioned in a previous post, regulates jin-fluids.  BL-56 is also indicated for panic attacks (a feeling of rushing upwards and getting stuck in the head), or, as the Jia Yi Jing describes, “in case of repletion there will be nasal congestion, headache, and pain in the back.”  (Deficiency leads to runny snivel and nosebleeds.)

SP-4 or SJ-5, which treat abdominal distention (and pain in the intestines) and rigidity of the sense organs respectively could also be bled.  In the case of SJ-5, I would follow up with moxa, since the actual symptom being presented is the dissolution of sense organs.  The need for SJ-5 to be tonified can be interpreted as the San Jiao’s ability to metabolise fluid being overwhelmed by the presence of water toxins.

A little bloodletting might let out that urge to mindlessly destroy things that Giles mentioned before he had the satisfaction of chasing off Maggie Walsh — and perhaps give Spike a taste of fresh human blood without the headache!

As always, these posts are for entertainment and educational purposes only.  If you feel you could benefit from Chinese Herbal Medicine, please see a qualified practitioner.  Happy Slayage!

The Dark Age (Buffy, Season 2)

Zombies.  Corpses overtaken and reanimated through possession by a demon spirit.

It’s what happens when you have school on Saturdays, according to Cordelia.

I had forgotten that the series even had zombies.  I had forgotten that Giles had a tattoo, and I can’t figure out why he didn’t remove it before this episode even came about.

This post is not going to be about how to remove tattoos via acupuncture.  (Although I wonder if lots of moxa would do the trick?)  Nor is it about how to apply tattoos via acupuncture, although I do seem to recall hearing one theory that acupuncture originated because after tattooing rituals people would sometimes mysteriously recover from an illness.  Between the needle work and bloodletting, I can’t see why one would expect anything different from tattooing.  Take the ink out of the picture and you have an equally expensive, though less permanently visible form of acupuncture.

But I digress.

In the realm of the unexpected, at least with normal zombies, are possessing demons which can jump from the primary corpse into the nearest dead or otherwise unconscious person.  The expulsion of demonic entities — now that is something which is indeed buried in the tradition of acupuncture and herbal medicine.  (Just don’t tell that to any secularised, modernist, history-defying licensing official.  It destroys the image of acupuncture as clean and pristinely scientific.)

The following discussion, therefore, is for theoretical purposes only, at least until parapsychology is accepted as a valid discipline within the medical establishment.

So what sort of ghost-demon would this be?  Three broad classes of ghost can be identified medically:  wandering ghosts, sexual ghosts, and hungry ghosts.  I’m not quite sure how to distinguish the latter two, to be honest, since both seem to exhibit a great hunger for human life.  The first, derived from those who have died while on a journey, and who think they are still on that journey — this first category seems to suit our Eyghon fellow (that is, the demon which jumped into Ms. Calendar’s unconscious form) adequately.  Just look at this demon’s passport:  poor Deirdre got possessed and tracked Phillip all the way across the Atlantic and to the western edge of North America.  Then Eyghon jumped from her corpse into Phillip’s body (after ensuring Phillip was no longer… er… conscious), which wandered around in turn until it ended up in the conveniently designed  library cage, and then ultimately seeped into Ms. Calendar.  Sounds like a seasoned traveler to me.  Too bad it doesn’t know when to stop.

Depending on how one wants to go about expelling the ghost, one can either identify what type of ghost it is, or how deeply into the host it has gone.  Most all ghosts are cold, though, and often phlegmy, very yin entities.  Moxa is helpful in warming the entities and giving them the yang power to transform and remove themselves from their host.  So maybe Ethan Rayne should have tried moxa on himself first, rather than tattoo Buffy.

Somehow, that would have been out of character.

Following the tradition imparted by Jeffery Yuen, I divide the ghost points into four groups, each of which is used for a different level of possession.

In the first level of possession, the person experiences an initial change (in Ms. Calendar’s case these are little blue horns which appear on her forehead and cheeks; in more ordinary cases, the eyes turn red after seeing something inappropriate).  Then the voice changes (as indeed it does, leaving Ms Calendar to resemble a rather hourglass shaped drag queen).  Finally the person begins to withdraw.  (I’m not sure hurling oneself through a glass window counts as “withdrawing.”).

The second level is characterised by the possessed person beginning to search for the ghost’s past.  (Cue hunt for Giles and Ethan — or Buffy.)  This is followed by going to the ghost’s places (obviously the level at which Dierdre was afflicted when we meet her), and then memory problems surface.  One’s dreams become more real than waking life.

It seems that Ms Calendar is afflicted by a demon which has penetrated to this second level.  The ghost points used in this set are PC-7, which is bled to feed the ghost and give it substance; BL-62, which is treated with moxa, to warm the ghost and get it to move; and Du-16, which is needled to show the ghost an exit.  The needle is shaken like a shaman’s rattle.  This last needle is then retained until the last step.

The treatment is finished with a needle in SI-16, to open the portals to heaven and allow the entity to be redeemed and move on.  Sometimes the ghost spontaneously departs at this point, especially if it has been acknowledged as such and given the resources to move on.  Otherwise, treatment will continue at a later date using the first set of ghost points (Du-26, which is pricked to bleed; LU-11, which is needled; SP-1, which is treated with moxa; and finally ST-9.)  Oh — and throw the needles on the floor after you remove them, or bury them in soil, to bury the ghost and allow it’s corporeal parts to return to the earth.

I had forgotten this latter step initially, but once I incorporated it into my treatments, i was surprised at the increased effectiveness of the protocol.

Each of these steps has a corresponding herbal treatment.  The herbal treatments have a long term prognosis.  In general, shamans are much more effective at getting rid of these entities than acupuncturists.

The herbal decoction for the second level is Du Huo Ji Sheng Wan, which most people know as a formula which treats cold bi with underlying emptiness of the KD and LV.

For the first level, use Ding Zhi Wan, Settle the Will.  Except in the cases of a “recent acquisition” expect treatment to take up to three months for each level, and expect some relapses.

But, as always, happy slaying!

This post is for entertainment and theoretical purposes only.  If you feel you would benefit from the various traditions encompassed under the label of Asian Medicine, please see a qualified practitioner.