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!