Storyteller (Buffy, Season 7, Episode 16)

Andrew takes the driver’s seat in this episode, documenting the Slayer’s life and team for future posterity.  Buffy, however, figures out that Andrew is key to closing the seal of Danzalthar.  She takes him to the seal and makes him believe that she will sacrifice him in order to close the seal.  Buffy’s goal, though, was to get Andrew to recognise his mistakes and own up to them.  Andrew’s tears not only redeem himself, they also effectively close the seal.

The question of tears and the fluid mechanics of the Channel Divergences seems an appropriate topic to associate with this episode.  I’ve already traced the mechanics of several confluences as they seek to maintain the latency of a pathogen in the body.

The body first draws on the jing stored in the Extraordinary Vessels before moving onto the blood associated with mu-alarm points.  Jing is transmuted into blood through association with post-natal qi.  From there, blood supports the fluids of the Stomach which bathe the upper orifices and allow perception to enter the Heart.

The Stomach, according to the Ling Shu, masters blood; in the CD system, the Stomach pivots between blood and fluid.  Once Stomach fluid is formed from processing post-natal qi (derived from food), the thick fluid goes to the marrow and brain, and contributes to the yin of the heart in the form of sweat.

Somewhat simultaneously, the fluid is regulated by the San Jiao and Pericardium to ensure proper digestion and the proper circulation of heat in the body.  (I actually sometimes associate this function with the concept of agni-digestive or metabolic-fire in Ayurvedic medicine). The regulation of digestion allows fluids to support jing, closing a loop which began with the BL-KD Channel divergence.

From here, the Large Intestine, which the Ling Shu associates with thin fluids, together with the Lungs, manages what fluid and qi flows into the Primary Merdians and that which circulates along the Sinew Vessels.  The pivot in this case was provided by the SJ-PC CD association with the jing-well points of the body.  Sinew vessels begins there.  Although they rely on thick fluid to function, the sinew vessels circulate wei qi for exterior defence.  Thus, the CD cycle moves from the jing level outwards to the wei level.  The wei level also moves back to the jing level through the same set of physiology.

The return of qi to jing can be illustrated by highlighting another physiological process, focused on the back shu and front mu points.  In this physiology, the Gao Huang place a central role in supplying (via back shu and front mu) the zang-solid organs with jing.

Supplying the solid organs with jing allows the organs to have their proper emotional functioning.  In other words, if Andrew had been unable to cry, perhaps his Lungs had been exhausted of their jing and needed supplementation.  Once full, the organs can express the spirits contained within them, and can allow qi to enter and exit in the form of emotional experiences.  (The herb Huang Qin is good at supplementing LU jing and blood, by the way.)

The outer bladder line is most associated with emotions, in terms of point energetics in the primary meridian system.  Just as the primary bladder line is formed by the San Jiao mechanism as it ‘lights’ the jing stored in the Kidneys and begins to rise along the Du Mai, so also  alchemists say that the Chong Mai gives rise to outer bladder line.  Here, the Chong Mai transmutes jing into qi, which rises on the back using the san jiao mechanism.  In this case, though, the fire burns more intensely and pushes this qi out further, to outer bladder line.

The outer bladder line starts at BL-10, from which it both descends through the spirit points and ascends to the brain, impacting BL-1 and the Qiao Mai.  The trajectory of this movement is not dissimilar to the trajectory of the Spleen Channel Divergence.  Below, I have pasted in a chart describing the San Jiao mechanism of the Back Shu points.

Back Shu Points: San Jiao Mechanism of the Posterior Body. Needle with Yuan Source points.

Shu Yuan Associated Zangfu Element Description Resonance
Du-14   Yang meridians of hand and foot Heart Yang from Exterior heaven Crossing point of all yang meridians Resonates w/Du-4
BL-13 LU-9 Lungs Metal Exterior, what the cosmos/ heaven wants. Resonates w/BL-23
BL-14 PC-7 Pericardium Fire/ Water Minister Fire BL-22 Resonance
BL-15 HT-7 Heart Fire Sovereign Fire BL-21 Resonance
BL-16   Ge/ Diaphragm      
Du-4   Ming Men KD yang from Interior Preheaven Ming Men: Fate Gate Du-14 Resonance
BL-23 KD-3 Kidney Water What self, interior wants BL-13; KD-3
BL22 SJ-4 San Jiao Water/ Fire Minister Fire BL-14 Resonance
BL-21 ST-42 Stomach Earth BL-13, metal BL-15 Resonance
BL-20 SP-3 Spleen: Earth What society wants  
BL-19 GB-40 Gallbladder Wood Movement into world Action from conflict
BL-18 LV-3 Liver Wood Movement into world Action from conflict

Within the body, the Gao Huang is how the Kidneys (jing) connect to the Heart (shen).  Gao is the yin aspect, and concerns storage.  Huang is the yang aspect, and represents jing and blood (i.e. the emotions)  as they go to the Dai Mai while complicated by dampness.  Dampness, recall, is the burden of potential which has not been properly transformed.  In the case of emotions, that transformation can be through expression, or through integration and transmutation as the Heart finds meaning for itself in the unfolding blueprint of life.

In terms of acupuncture, the Gao Huang have a relationship to BL-43 (Gao Huang Shu) and BL-53 (Bao Huang Shu).  BL-53, of course, is a point on the Dai Mai.  A relationship of the Gao Huang, often translated as ‘membrane source’, and Dai Mai is sometimes made through the associated physiological structures of the messentery or peritoneum.   The Dai Mai points which bring together the GaoHuang, jing, blood, and emotions are GB-41, LV-13, GB-26; and GB-28 for yin emotions or GB-27 for yang emotions,

However, in relation to the outer bladder line, CV-15 and Du-1 (Bao Mai), plus SP-21 (Da Bao), and the outer bladder shu-spirit points can be used to release and drain their respective emotions. This is because jing qi, or KD qi, gives rise to a zang’s ability to generate and express an emotion. Therefore one must treat both the KD and the affect-organ.  KD qi, of course, can be affected through several different Channel Divergences, as I hope I have made clear in this and previous posts.  Key is finding the ‘pivot point’ which connects each to jing and blood.  My purpose in bringing up the Gao Huang here is to indicate how spirit points can be incorporated into a CD treatment.  In terms of Chinese physiology, it also provides a bridge to herbal treatments.

Herbal medicine has several formulas to treat the Gao Huang.  Most famous is ‘Reach the Membrane Source’ Da Yuan Yin.  The herbs in this formula are Hou Po, Cao Guo, Bing Lang, Bai Shao, Zhi Mu, Huang Qin, and Gan Cao.  Of these, Hou Po, Cao Guo, and Bing Lang are the essence of the formula.

Cao Guo is warm and drying and goes to the SP, but also reaches the blood level to keep malarial disorders at bay.  Bing Lang kills parasites, moves qi, and also treats malarial — think ‘latent’ or ‘cyclical’ conditions.  Hou Po alleviates wheezing, treats focal distention, moves qi, and disperses accumulated phlegm.  The Gao Huang are sometimes associated with fat as it collects around the viscera.  Fat is sometimes thought of as phlegm or dampness in modern Chinese Medicine.  This formula, then, could potentially be used today to help up-regulate the body’s system and draw out hidden disorders of flora in the body causing erratic movement in a person’s metabolism.

As always, this post is for informational and entertainment purposes only.  If you or a loved one feels emotionally exhausted, and believes that Chinese Medicine may help replenish your ability to feel and express emotion, please see a qualified practitioner. 

Happy Slayage!


Bargaining, Part 1 (Buffy, Season 6, Episode 1)

At the close of the Fifth Season, Buffy sacrifices herself to close a portal which linked all hell dimensions to earth.  As Season Six begins, we see that without Buffy, the gang goes on.  With the aid of the Buffybot, the Scoobies continue their fight against the evils of the Hellmouth.  The gang doesn’t do too badly, though Giles is nearly choked to death by a vampire in the opening sequence.   Life continues with a fair degree of continuity, and Giles is shown keeping the regular training session with the slayer, in this case, the Buffybot, just as he did with Buffy.  In one scene, Giles instructs the Buffybot to breathe while imagining qi — although the Buffybot does not breathe.  The scene ends with the Buffybot asking Giles why he is still in Sunnydale.  Giles decides to leave for England, and so begins the slow unraveling of the gang that becomes the focus of Season Six.

Meanwhile, with the help of Anya, Tara, and Xander, Willow tries to raise Buffy from the dead.  Willow is convinced that Buffy’s soul, her ‘essence’, is trapped in some unknown hell dimension.  It is the gang’s duty to rescue Buffy from such a fate.  She and the others gatehr ingredients for the spell, but the ritual is suddenly interrupted by a broken Buffybot leading a gang of motorcycling demons to the cemetery.  Willow and the others are left at the end of the episode believing her spell failed.

The season thus opens with some very metaphysical terms being thrown about, for which Chinese medicine has some rather different meanings.  Qi, soul, and essence, each mentioned in this episode, are discussed throughout Chinese medical and philosophical history.  The most appropriate acupuncture channel system to regulates all three, and which I will focus on for this season, is the Eight Channels of the Extraordinary Meridians.

Before we get to this episode’s diagnosis, however, a note on Giles’ concept of qi.  Giles instructs the Buffybot to imagine the air as qi, which he glosses as ‘energy’.  However, qi does not mean ‘energy’ as such in Chinese.  In fact, if you ask someone about the qi in Chinese, they will most likely initially think you are talking about the weather outside.  This common use of the word qi points to its intrinsic meaning in medicine:  qi is that which changes, both in the sense of effecting change and in the sense of that which undergoes change.  In this regard, qi is both material and metabolic.  When a herbalist or an acupuncturist regulates qi in the body, they are regulating metabolism, physiology, and the rate of change as a body adapts to variations in its environment.  The traditional character for ‘qi’ is that of a grain of rice exploding beneath whirls of steam:  the transformation of raw into cooked, earth into air or vapour.

Likewise, Chinese medicine would find Willow’s equation of Buffy’s soul with her essence to be somewhat curious.  In a certain respect, Willow is speaking in Greek concepts (ousia as essence and unseen, but tied to personality; and psyche as soul or mind, also linked to personality), while Chinese medicine uses a different sent ideas to convey its understanding of human life.  In other words, the issue is one of translation.  The word translated as ‘essence’ is jing.  It has a grain of rice as the radical, giving the impression that the grain which can grow into the plant is the ‘essence’ of the plant.  ‘Seed’ is not a bad translation, inasmuch as jing is manifest visibly in seminal fluid and menstrual blood.  The other part of the character appears in the word for ‘cyan’ or ‘blue-green’, as well as the character for ‘clear’ or ‘clarity’.  Jing is the clear portion of what grows into a person.

In contrast, describing the soul or spirit is a matter of getting more specific.  Four words can be translated as soul and spirit:  ling, shen, hun, and po.  Of those, ling and shen are the types of soul to which Willow likely referred.  The po are ‘corporeal souls’, the appetites of human life which lead to death and addiction.  Numbered at seven, they are buried with the corpse after death, and are thus sometimes called ‘bone souls’.  Clearly, those are not what Willow is talking about.  The hun or ethereal souls, three souls related to the personality and moral attainments in this life, leave the soul at death through the top of the head.  They are honoured as the ancestors, and after about three generations either dissipate or are reincarnated back into the lineage (depending on what tradition one follows).  It is possible Willow refers to them, but they are housed in the Liver, part and parcel of the blood and emotions which bring warmth and colour to life.  The shen, or spirit proper, is stored in the heart.  This is the soul which gathers the rest together.  It is the soul which experiences this life and changes because of it; it is the soul which imparts a mission to a life, and directs the jing to grow so that the mission can be accomplished.  This is the soul to which Willow seems to refer when she speaks about Buffy’s ‘essence’.  Together, as jingshen, essence and soul constitute the pattern a person is living out in life.  Jingshen manifests physically as marrow, which gathers in the cranium to form the brain.  The channels which address it, are the eight extraordinary vessels.

With those definitions in mind, we can now turn back to this episode’s diagnosis:  Shortness of breath.  Twice this symptom was shown.  First, Giles is nearly choked by a vampire at the beginning, and can’t breathe. Later, he tells the Buffybot to breathe. Difficulty breathing is often thought of as either a Lung (difficulty exhaling) or Kidney (difficulty inhaling) issue.  Of the extraordinary vessels, the Ren Mai is the most appropriate channel to treat.  Not only are its opening a coupled points LU7 and KD3, several points on the midline relate to the chest, diaphragm, and kidneys.  Thus, in addition to the opening point, I might add in CV-12 (the source of the LU meridian, which originates in the middle of the stomach), CV-17 (centre of the chest), and CV-6 (Sea of qi).

For herbal medicine, Ma Huang is the signature herb for difficulty breathing.  Either as Ma Huang Tang or combined with Gecko for Kidney-deficient asthma, Ma Huang opens the lungs, facilitates breathing, and promotes sweating.  Usually Ma Huang Tang is more suitable for robust individuals (like the Buffybot); at a smaller dose, however, Giles would be able to take it without exhausting himself further.

For this first treatment of the season, I’ve used only one Extraordinary Vessel (EV).  I will go through each individually, and then begin pairing them off to create more interesting treatments.  In addition to trying to stay within one acupuncture paradigm, I think I will try to prescribe herbal formulas according to one school of thought.  For this season, I’m going to try a warm-disease approach, particularly since Ye Tian-Shi elucidated a physiology by which pathology enters the EVs.  Hopefully I’ll find enough formulas!

As always, this post is meant for educational and entertainment purposes.  If you or a loved one have died and you want to come back to life, or if you or a loved one have difficulty breathing, please see a qualified practitioner.

Happy Slayage!

Who Are You? (Buffy Season 4, Episode 16)

At the end of the previous episode, we saw Buffy and Faith fight, with Faith pulling out a magical device at the last moment and linking hands with Buffy.  In this episode, we learn that Buffy and Faith have switched bodies.  Faith now inhabits Buffy’s body, while Buffy is trapped within Faith’s.  Both come to understand the other a little bit more as a result.

Not before a little bit of havoc and revenge has been wreaked by Faith, though.  In particular, Faith decides to sleep with Riley.  Riley picks up that something is amiss, particularly afterwards, when he tells Buffy’s-body-inhabited-by-Faith that he loves her.  Faith-inhabiting-Buffy’s-body, not expecting any such talk after sex, jumps up and becomes very agitated.  ‘What just happened meant nothing’, she declares.

Given Faith’s own background, such behaviour is not unexpected.  After all, towards the end of the episode, Faith-in-Buffy’s-body gives Riley the brilliantly delivered line, “I can’t use you.”  In terms of acting technique, the ambiguity of that line was very psychologically perceptive of Faith’s character.  She cannot use Riley in a fight, because he is injured; but more broadly, she cannot exploit him, and he isn’t out to exploit her.

Leaving aside the philosophical-medical considerations emerging from the slow melding and changing of Faith’s personality to match her Buffy body, the overall pattern of Faith’s interaction with Riley made me think of dissociative disorder, particularly as it applies to sexual interactions.  Simply put, dissociation during sex is when one person simply ‘checks out’ and goes somewhere else mentally, avoiding the impact of what is actually going on.  Often this habit is developed as a result of sexual exploitation of some sort, though it need not be.  Nor does it necessarily need to be confined to the bedroom.  Sometimes people will check out of other difficult situations.

A colleague once asked for ideas of how to address these symptoms from a Chinese Medical standpoint.  This episode presents the perfect opportunity to explore those ideas further.

First, we could look at the situation as primarily one concerning consciousness and attention.  Consciousness is associated with the shen-spirit.  Attention can also be associated with the shen-spirit; but it can also be associated with the gathering power of the Spleen, and referred to as yi-intent.  The shen is anchored to the body by the jing, and emerges from the union of qi and blood.  If consciousness is departing, this is a form of a rupture between the yin aspects of the body — jing and blood — from their partnered yang aspects — shen and qi.  The treatment approach, therefore, would seek to anchor the shen in the jing, or the qi in the blood.

Typically, sticky herbs like shu di, e jiao, gui ban jiao or even lu jiao jiao (which is a bit more on the yang-tonifying side) could be used.  The stickiness reflects viscous jing.  Something yang and light in nature would reflect the shen; perhaps fragrant chen xiang would be a good choice.  I personally prefer the use of Lu Jiao Jiao in this instance, because it already reflects the presence of yang-shen within sticky-jing oriented substances.  Being the essence of an antler, which is the outward expression of life, and which requires great amounts of both qi and blood in the springtime, I feel it adequately captures much of what we are trying to accomplish.  (Sang Bai Pi would work similarly.)  However, Lu Jiao Jiao does not clarify consciousness.  In some ways, it doesn’t so much bring consciousness back to the jing as much as it causes the jing to express itself outwards consciously.  To augment this effect by engaging the spleen, I might add either Fu Shen — a very consciousness clearing herb, relieving people of the burden of potential (i.e. dampness unable to become physiological fluid) — or Gan Cao, which helps bring people back to centre.  Ren Shen also has this centring effect.

Another approach would be to relate the yang-oriented shen to qi, and look at how qi is anchored in the body.  We know that the ancestral qi gathers in the Lungs, and that the Kidneys grasp Lung qi.  Therefore, something which helps the Kidneys anchor the qi may prove useful.  In such a case, I would think of the formula Ren Shen Ge Jie Tang.  This formula is mildly yang-tonifying, and is often used in cases of asthma.  I have also heard of it used when couples are trying to conceive.  The concept there is that the Kidneys, or jing, will grasp a Ling-soul to enable conception to occur.

If the qi is weak, the po may rage out of control.  This gives rise to addictive disorders.  Someone who is both a sex addict and checks out during sex would likely need to have both jing and qi tonified.  The above formula, with the addition of one or two qi-tonifying or qi-circulating ingredients may be useful in such cases.  I would consider adding Shan Yao (to astringe essence) or Wu Wei Zi (to astringe LU qi and generate essence) with a herb like huang qi, which tonifies qi but also constrains the exterior.

A third way to look at the issue is to consider the path of the Liver channel, and the role that  LV channel blood and mai has in influencing the genitalia.  The Hun, stored in the LV and in Blood, follow the Shen, which are stored in the Mai-vessels.  This is the place of the Pericardium, as we noted in the previous post, but also of the Chong Mai, which disperses into the Chest.  In this case, I would use acupuncture and lead the shen from the chest down to the LV channel.  Perhaps I would combine a Ren Mai with a Chong Mai treatment, beginning with LU-7, followed by CV-17, CV-15, KD-15 (Uterus Gate), KD-13 (Qi Cave), and Closing with SP-4 — if I chose to use that particular trajectory of the Chong Mai.

The place of the pericardium is interesting to consider in this respect.  The Pericardium is likened to the Confucian ministers, whose responsiblity it is to ensure the Emperor be in the right place and perform the correct rituals at the proper time. If consciousness is not present when it should be, this can be seen as the fault of the ministers, in this case, the Heart Master Collateral, or PC meridian.  PC-6, a luo mai point having a relation to the blood, and called ‘inner gate’ to reflect its relationship to letting certain emotions in to consciousness and the heart, CV-17 (mu point of the PC), and CV-15 (mu point of the HT) are all useful points in this regard.  If a person is also emotionally stuck, I would add the he-uniting or he-sea point of the PC to the prescription, since he points are useful in cases of blood stagnation — and in cases of pathology due to previously poor intake (usually thought of as dietary) choices.

Note Buffy puts her hand to CV-17 after returning to her own body:  the Heart was finally back in its proper place, regulated through the Pericardium — in this case, PC-8, where the magical device was held.

Finally, someone who is facing challenges with intimacy, wandering from person to person — this issue is the flipside of the episode  ‘Where the Wild Things Are’ (Season 4, Episode 18), and will be treated then.

Until that time, please remember that these posts are for entertainment and educational use only.  If you feel you could benefit from Chinese Medical approaches to your life, please see a qualified practitioner.  If you are interested in bodily memory, by all means search using the terms ‘heart transplant’ and ‘bodily memory’.  Happy Slayage!

Wild at Heart (Buffy Season 4, Episode 6)

Alas, poor Willow.

In this episode we learn why Oz was fascinated by Verucca, the lead singer of a frequent band at the Bronze.  Verucca, like Oz, is a werewolf.  We initially discover this the morning after Oz escapes from his cage and awakes next to a now human Verucca.  In contrast to Oz, Verucca celebrates her wildness and sees it as core to her own identity in the world.

Seeking to prevent her from doing any more damage, Oz locks Verucca away in his cage on the second night of the full moon.  Willow discovers the two of them naked the next morning.  While she had been nervous about the two of them from the start of the episode, this was more than she expected would have happened.

The third night sees the resolution of the Oz-Verucca relationship:  After tracking Verucca’s scent with Buffy, Oz realises they were thrown off the real trail; Verucca had gone to kill Willow.   Willow had been preparing a spell, but found she couldn’t actually go through with hurting the man she loved; this buys time for Verucca to transform into a werewolf and threaten Willow.  Oz arrives just in time, kills Verucca, and then gets tranquilised by Buffy.  The next day Oz leaves Sunnydale — and the show — in order to come to peace with himself.

What to diagnose?  I’ve already designed a potion to treat Oz’s lycanthropy in a previous post.  While I could advise making peace with oneself, I think I may save that for the episode in which Oz returns from Tibet.  Instead, taking my cue from Oz’s uncanny ability to track by scent even in human form, I will discuss the role odour plays in Chinese Medicine.

Listening and smelling is one of the five means of making a diagnosis in Chinese medicine.  The character for the part of diagnosis concerned with listening and smelling is the same — no distinction is made between the two.  The character contains two parts, the door radical, and within or between the doors, an ear.

This character always confused me.  How can it mean ‘to listen’ and ‘to smell’?  I was accustomed to thinking of the ear as a doorway through which perception comes; but this imagery would apply to other senses as well, particularly sight.  When I began to consider the image as an ear behind a closed door, however, the meaning stuck.  The character, which can also mean to receive news,  is indicative of those sense perceptions which do not rely on either sight or personal contact (e.g. touch, taste) to obtain information about the outside world.  Thus, the character presents the physician as a person inside a house and the patient as a person by outside the house.  News can be obtained by a person on one or the other side of the gate through overhearing a conversation, or catching the scent of what passersby may be carrying — flowers or dumplings (or maybe durrian fruit) — or the scent of whatever the inhabitants of the house might be cooking.

In the same way, a patient’s smell can tell us what is going on inside the house of the body.  What is the smell like, by which we can diagnose patients?  It isn’t quite body odor, and it isn’t always immediately noticeable.  Sometimes the odor is more noticeable after coming into the room for a second time.  Sometimes it is noticed after the patient leaves, and their scent lingers in the room.  Other times, it is quite palpable — to use the metaphor of touch in this case!

The various smells are categorised under five headings, each associated with one of the elements.  They can be used to corroborate other information gained from asking questions and feeling the pulse.  The particular imbalance they point to relates directly to either organ systems or meridian systems, so long as the underlying theory is based on five elements (rather than a strict yin-yang, six stages, or qi-blood-body fluids paradigm).

If someone has an imbalance in the wood element, they might smell rancid.  The smell is reminiscent of oil that has gone off.  I associate it with the smell of an old jar of peanut butter.  (Granted, this is a smell I do not often have the opportunity to encounter, since peanut butter rarely lasts long around me…)  The scent can likewise be associated with wood polishing oil or old linseed oil.  Often those liquids are simply old and spoiled oil.  The scent is not the sort of oil obtained from sandalwood or cedarwood, although those can also go rancid.

A fire element imbalance often shows up unsurprisingly as a scorched smell.  This sometimes smells like burnt toast, but I’ve also smelled it as burned flesh, having a slightly sweet edge.  Another time, I encountered it as more akin to the smell of ozone in the air on a summer day.

The odour of earth is fragrant.  I associate it with the smell of baking bread, a very full and rich scent.  Sometimes other fragrances can be indicative of an imbalance in the earth element — skin which smells like honey, or mangoes, or peaches, slightly musky but slightly sweet.  Diabetics sometimes have a fragrant smell to their skin, especially before they are diagnosed as such by biomedicine.   Diabetes is often associated with a Spleen-Stomach imbalance in Traditional Chinese Medicine.

The rotten smell, often accompanied by a certain acridity, is the smell of metal.  It is quite different from rancid in that it does not have an oily quality; it is much more of a piquant, spicy, dry odour.  It also differs from the putrid scent, because it isn’t really the smell of something decaying slowly.  I suppose one could say it smells like rubbish bins outside restaurants — unpleasant, but not altogether so.

Water gives off a putrid odour, the smell of decay.  It is the scent of something slowly stewing in its own juices, locked into the earth by winter ice, unable to go rotten for the cold, and so it just slowly deteriorates.  I sometimes encounter this smell in dentists’ offices, actually.  I am not surprised that the teeth, although having their own microcosm, are strongly associated with the Kidneys (governed by the element water) and with jing-essence (stored in the Kidneys).  Yet the scent can also be like still water with scum on top, a very green scent; or like an old pool, in which the chlorine has somehow collected and concentrated and turned into some other scent.  The earlier reference to jing makes me wonder if the putrid smell is like an old, used condom, but I’m not going to test this theory… someone else can tell me what they think.

As always, these posts are for entertainment purposes only.  If you think Chinese Medicine may have the solutions to your own body odour imbalances, please see a qualified practitioner.  Happy Slayage!

Amends (Buffy, Season Three, Ep 10)

In this episode we are introduced to the Big Bad of Season Seven — The First Evil.  It’s too bad that the appearance of the First in that season doesn’t cycle through the same figures who haunted Angel in this episode.  It would have made a nice tie-back.

One could argue that the First seems to take its images from the mind of the particular individual whom it has decided to torment — except that Spike didn’t have to fight the Master, or the Mayor, both of whom appeared in his fevered brain after he was re-ensouled and suffering, like Angel, from overwhelming guilt.

Guilt.  How clever of The First to draw individuals into committing evil acts — and then to torture them with guilt over having given in.  Sounds like something from de Laclos’ Les Liasons Dangereuses.

According to evolutionary psychology, the capacity for guilt is an emotion common to all humanity.  While some variations of technique and content might occur — Jewish guilt, Catholic guilt, Muslim guilt, Hindu guilt, Chinese guilt, Existentialist guilt — no one philosophical or cultural group has a monopoly on this sometimes crippling and tenacious emotion.

Angel’s guilt, however, is a result not of a cultural sort, but is inherent in his existence as an ensouled vampire ordained to atone for his past, soul-less existence.  He therefore seems to be experiencing a very existentialist guilt. (Perhaps this explains his interest in Sartre’s La Nausee.  Too bad he hasn’t internalised Camus’ message instead:  we all, in some way, come into this world guilty.)

Does Classical Chinese Medicine have anything to offer to assuage guilt? It may, and both Confucian and Buddhist philosophy can evoke a sense of guilt in their adherents. I will extrapolate my treatment principles from a specific herb, but I have not had the opportunity to try the efficacy of this theory in the clinic as of yet.  The core of the extrapolation derives from a class lecture by Ted Kaptchuk, but I will end up mixing it with ideas drawn from Jeffrey Yuen and Kanpo medicine.

The herb Wu Wei Zi (schizandra berry) is said to astringe the Lungs and Kidneys, restrain leakage in the form of spermatorrhea and leukhorrhea, and absorb phlegm.

Why should it absorb phlegm?  What does this mean?   The kidneys soften phlegm — so shouldn’t Wu Wei Zi soften phlegm, like Kon Bu or Hai Zao, rather than absorb it?

The clue may lie in an archaic use of the word spermatorrhea — in the Victorian era it was a code word for masturbation.  Some may say that masturbation is not pathological (unless taken to excess; I seem to recall an episode of Queer as Folk trying to make that point) — but that attitude is not, in fact, shared by many cultures.  Christian belief is linked both the Judaean story of Onan, and to the ascetic tradition of cultivating stillness in the body and the soul.  Pagan Greeks worried that a loss of semen would compromise the brain’s acuity.  (The Egyptians, in contrast, had one myth in which one of their deities masturbated and formed the world from his ejaculate.)  Moving further East, in India, dhat syndrome is a concern, and bears a resemblance to ancient Greek attitudes towards physiology.  In Chinese Confucian society — and it is an East Asian approach we are taking here, after all — one’s jing belongs to one’s ancestors.

Therefore, conserving or guarding one’s jing is an act of filial piety. Don’t touch the family jewels lest you break them, as it were.

But it is the astringing quality of wu wei zi is explained with reference to spermatorrhea.  How does this related to phlegm?

What is phlegm?  Phlegm is a heavy, sticky substance, usually produced by pathological dampness which has thickened. Pathological dampness can imply a pathological Spleen, although this need not always be the case.  If a pathological spleen perhaps also a pathological society?  After all, the colour of a Confucian scholar — a societal rank — is yellow, the colour of the earth — and the colour of the Spleen and Stomach.  They are all linked together and can stand in for one another as the situation demands.

In the case of wu wei zi, it is up to the Kidneys — the self — to soften the phlegm. In the case of wu wei zi absorbing phlegm, phlegm is a societal pathology put on an individual who must come to terms with it and process it in his or her own way.

In other words, the individual is experiencing a form of guilt.

As a side note, in Kanpo medicine, Gui Zhi Long Gu Mu Li Tang is often used in cases of spermatorrhea or masturbation. (I seem to recall such a case in Otsuka’s 30 Years of Kanpo, but cannot relocate it.)  However, the dynamics of that formula indicate a pathology of qi not being anchored, manifesting as pulsations along the Ren Mai below CV-16 above the navel.   “Anchor” differs slightly from the idea of qi not being contained, although GZLGMLT has shades of that image also.  Corresponding symptoms include fatigue, being easily worn out, involuntary seminal emission, sensation of cold in the scrotum, and insomnia.  In terms of acupuncture, LV-5 is a point used for excess qi going to the genitals and becoming trapped, but we will return to this idea in Buffy, Season 4; it does not apply here.

In Angel’s case, the existential guilt may not be a Spleen vs Kidney pathology. Although he is confronting what his society expected of human beings, he was not human at the time of his crimes (or at least, he did not have a human’s soul.)  Rather, because Angel shares the same physical body, the same material form, jing, as Angelus (his soul-less vampire self), Angel is experiencing is a Kidney vs Kidney situation.  His self is battling the self — and Wu Wei Zi is an excellent herb to address this. Even if we were to say that it is a matter of a Heart-Kidney disorder — the shen fighting with the jing — wu wei zi would still apply, since its ability to calm the shen is well known.

Simply put, Angel needs to keep from attacking himself.  We see that he is being driven to self-destruction by his guilt, and threatens to watch his last sunrise.  Kidneys attacking the Kidneys.  (Being driven to self-destruction because of pain is something else, and we will look at that when Faith appears in the Angel series.)

(Had Angel been consumed by the sunlight, his soul would likely have come back as a ghost — still searching for forgiveness.  If that were to have happened, treatment would follow the outlines of my post for I Only Have Eyes for You.)

This self-consumption physiologically reflects the domain of the divergent channels.  Incidentally, the first confluence, BL-KD,  deals with jing, bringing its deeply still and yin water qualities to bear in holding a pathology latent.  In this case, we want to access Angel’s deepest sense of self; if the soul, by definition, is a pinprick or spark of the Good, we want to remind Angel of this, and draw it outwards.

I just slipped into Platonic philosophy and left the realms of East Asia; perhaps the East Asian variation would be that Angel has a Buddha nature which can be realised.  This Buddha nature is contained in the pattern of his being by virtue of the pattern of incarnation.  Therefore, activating this subsuming pattern is necessary.  Prenatal jing is that which patterns post-natal jing to the particular incarnation.  For this reason, jing is only considered damaged if the body begins to develop tumours or other growths not originally contained in the jing-template.  A biomedical analogy would be that DNA provides the pattern by which amino acids are configured into the proteins which form, build, and repair the body.  (RNA would be analgous in certain ways to the Triple Heater mechanism.)

The BL-KD CD traverses the Kidneys, the self, and the HT, the soul.  All the CD’s connect with the heart in one way or another.  The heart has the power to vapourise phlegm — which is even cooler than absorbing it, in my opinion.  Points to focus on would be BL-15 and BL-23, in addition to BL-40.  Ma Dong Yuan uses BL-40 in his twelve star points; it opens to Ming Men, the Gate of Destiny.  BL-10 or BL-11 (the Ling Shu says “nape of the neck”) are used as the final points in the series.

So the acupuncture treatment would make use of a superficial-deep-superficial needling technique on all points, beginning with BL-40, then BL-23 (Kidney Shu), BL-15 (Heart Shu), and BL-10 (Window of Heaven point — appropriate to counteract the First’s influence).

As for herbs, if a single herb formula is too simple, one could think of adding Bei Mu, which treats phlegm and goes to HT, but does not astringe.  Lian Zi, which astringes and goes to both the Heart and Kidneys.  Finally, astringent He Zi, myrobalan, is an imperial herb in the canon of Tibetan medicine.  If one is trying to awaken Angel’s Buddha nature, this would be the herb to add.

As always, this post is for theoretical and entertainment purposes only.  If you feel you could benefit from the traditions of Asian medicine, please see a qualified practitioner.

Happy Slayage!

Dead Man’s Party (Buffy, Season Three, Ep 2)

Now that is a welcome home party — and a zombie episode I had forgotten about.  At least in this episode, the Nigerian masque was not brought back and displayed by a well-intentioned anthropologist, but by Joyce, the Art Gallery Owner.  After all, anthropologists can’t be blamed for everything that makes the White Man’s Burden heavier (or facilitates the post-colonial vengeance of the Two-thirds world upon the imperialist and decadent White Man).

Did anyone else notice in this episode several foreshadowings of seasons six and seven?  Xander and Buffy joke about how slaying is all fun and games until someone gets an eye put out (although this also foreshadows how the demonic masque wearing Zombie gets defeated in this episode).  Willow mixes drugs, addiction, and witchcraft in the monologue.  And Xander implicitly tells Buffy she won’t stay buried.

Xander, in fact, is the one who gets credit for this episode’s topic.  “You can’t just bury things, Buffy,” he raves at her, with more force than the scene demands.  “They have a tendency not to stay that way.”  Cue up Zombie attack, delivered after Willow’s sarcastic comment about using violence.

Chinese medicine would concur with Xander:  It can be difficult to keep a pathogen buried in the body.  Sooner or later, it will use up the substance which is keeping it buried, and wreak havoc on a now very weakened system.

The term Chinese medicine uses for this phenomenon is latency.  A latent pathogen is one which the body’s defenses (wei qi) could not expel entirely, but which could not penetrate further because the supply lines for the troops — actual substance of the body (the ying qi) — was too strong to be broken.   Like an enemy trapped behind a country’s defensive lines but who can’t penetrate any further into their territory, the pathogen goes into hiding.  It may stay in the wilderness and forage, or it may enter the homes of villagers and commandeer food, clothing, and other supplies — in the case of the body the supplies it demands are jing, blood, and body fluids.  When these substances are used up, the pathogen has a tendency to come out of hiding, with greater strength than before.  Usually, however, signs of the pathogen lurking have already shown up as a gradual weakening of the body.

Several modern diseases, particularly autoimmune conditions, are considered to be latent warm disease pathogens.  Multiple sclerosis is one example; lupus is another.  Note also that trauma — especially emotional trauma — can be considered a retained, or latent pathogen.

Fire toxins are a particular example of a latent pathogen.  Wind and cold can combine and enter and be transformed into heat and later into fire, leading to fire toxicity.  Fire toxicity seems to find its particular home in the blood.  For practitioners who only use the primary channels, the Small Intestine channel is particularly effective for addressing these conditions when dispersed.  The Pericardium and Triple Warmer channels, on the other hand, help promote latency (and thus should be tonified).  Finally, the Stomach, Lung, and Large Intestine meridians are responsible for the original transformation of cold into heat (as well as internal, emotional factors); wind-cold, and wind-heat conditions respectively.

Two principles derive from the theory of latency.   (The theory was first fully articulated in the Southern Chinese Warm Disease school of medical thought.)  First, the pathogen relies on yin substances to become latent, and can become latent at the jing, blood, or fluid/ ying qi levels.  Second, if the body is too weak to expel a pathogen, the practitioner can build up these substances and lead the pathogen into latency, to be expelled at a later time.

Although I mentioned several primary channels which can be used to address these conditions, the channel system which most effectively deals with latent pathogens, because of its connexion to the wei qi and jing qi levels, is the network of Channel Divergences.  Depending on needle technique, the channel can be used to either promote latency or bring a pathogen out of latency to be expelled.

The beginning of the channel divergences of the legs tend to be located around the pelvis, on what are called the Doorways to the Earth points.  Doorways to the Earth bury things in the body.  They are needled to either access what has been buried and raise it up to be expelled via the orifices of the face, or to maintain their burial within the body’s yin substances.  These points include BL-40, GB-30, LV-12,  ST-30, SP-12, Du-4;  KD-10 or KD-11, Ren-1 or Ren-2; some would even include Ren-4, Ren-6, and Ren-8.  BL-35, as the Yang Meeting point could also be considered.  These points happen to be the confluent points where the Yin and Yang Channel Divergences join together.

The channel divergences “end” at the upper orifices.  (Technically, a debate exists about whether the Channel Divergences are the internal trajectories of the primary channels, but that debate concerns how the channel systems relate to one another and not so much to how they are used clinically as separate channel systems.)  The orifices provide the means by which the body can expel pathogenic factors.

Relating these concepts to the episode at hand,  the zombie masque needed its eyes opened (well, shattered in this case) in order to release the demon and break its power.  We did not want to rebury the demon, but we need to remind the body that what it is doing is taking a pathogen which had once been buried (the corpse) and is now crashing the party of life (as a zombie), and for this reason the doorways to the earth points are needled.  Interestingly, all the channel divergences connect with the Heart on the way to the orifices, and right before the zombies come crashing through the windows, Buffy and friends are having a heart-to-heart argument.

So:  needle doorway to the earth, then a point along the trajectory (which often relates to the heart — CV-17, BL-15, GB-22, HT-1, SI-10 are all good choices), and then the upper orifice point.  If the practitioner prefers, one could needle according to the looping system I mentioned in the earlier Ted post on treating food allergies with the ST-SP channel divergence.  In this case, rather than needling bilaterally and moving upwards, the points are needled unilaterally pointing up on one side, until the topmost point is reach which is angled to point towards the other side.  The rest of the points are needled from the top down, angled downward, and the jing well point of the yang channel being treated is also needled.

Needle technique depends on what is being done with the pathogen.  To bring it up from the depths, use a superficial-deep-superficial technique, with a vibration at the initial superficial and deep levels.  To promote latency (which can also be a technique to build up the particular bodily substance related to the Channel Divergence), the reverse technique is used:  deep-superficial-deep, with vibration at the initial deep and superficial levels.

Needles are retained 20 minutes, and treatment should occur for three consecutive days, with a three day break following, for a total of 18 days (9 days of treatment total).  After that time, treatment efficacy should be assessed.

For reference, the following Channel Divergences are related to their yin substances:

BL-KD:  Jing essence

GB-LV:  Blood

ST-SP:  Body Fluids

SI-HT:  Ye-thick fluids

TH-PC:  Qi (note the TH CD does not end at an orifice, but goes into the chest or stomach)

LI-LU:  Thin fluids or Wei Qi

Herbal treatment depends on what one is trying to accomplish.  A simple three herb formula that I might try is  Jin Yin Hua, Xuan Shen, and Huang Qi (one could also add Lian Qiao).   Jin Yin Hua and Huang Qi as a combination nourish blood, while the Jin Yin Hua itself will clear fire toxins.  Xuan Shen nourishes yin and clears fire toxins.  Together, all three support yin substances which maintain latency, while searching out and clearing the enemy from now secured lines.  Adding the Lian Qiao further strengthens the fire toxin clearing ability of the formula.  One might add something to open orifices, too — Da Zao is said to disinhibit the nine orifices, as does Yuan Zhi.  Xin Yi Hua opens the nose.

If one is more interested in promoting latency,  E Jiao, Sang Bai Pi, and Di Gu Pi are your combination of choice.  E Jiao and Di Gu Pi (or Sang Ji Sheng) are a pair which serve as envoys to direct formulas to the Channel Divergence level, both relating to Jing and Wei Qi by the nature of their substance.

Finally, Tian Dong and Fen Xi treat “hidden corpse”, which is thought to relate to Gan syndrome in children.  This is also a type of latent pathogen, and perhaps relates most to the SI-HT channel divergence, given Tian Men Dong’s tropism for the Marrow.

As always, this post is for educational and entertainment purposes only.  If you feel you may benefit from the tradition of East Asian medicine, please seek a qualified practitioner.

Happy Slayage!

Go Fish (Buffy, Season Two)

Sunnydale has a chance of winning a sports event for once.  The swim team has rocketed to the top of its league.  Unfortunately, the area in which Sunnydale High most excels (its high death or mishap rate) might keep them from that goal.  Luckily for Sunnydale High (or not, considering how the episode resolves itself), Xander decides to step into the rapidly vacating positions on the swim team.

Xander continues to make homoerotic comments in this episode — this time about how great it is to be in a steamroom with a bunch of other guys.  Little does he realise what all that quality time can do to a guy.

The problem seems to be that the top swimmers turn into creatures from the lost lagoon, shedding their skin in the process.  The secret to their transformation lies in the vapours of the high school steamroom.

This is obviously a case of externally contracted summerheat-damp stagnating on the interior. Chinese medicine could have helped release these external channels so that the swimteam’s skin could have been saved. Alas, for their ignorance of the many uses of acupuncture and herbal medicine!

Aside from the more graphic manifestations of this pathogen (scales, fins, increased ability to swim), summerheat damp can stagnate the collaterals of the Lung leading to irritability, purple face (or purple-green in our case), nosebleeds (Buffy surely wouldn’t have struck a fellow classmate hard enough to cause a nosebleed, would she?), laboured breathing (I guess gills don’t work too well on land), and sometimes muzzy headedness.

The treatment principles are obviously to clear summerheat, drain dampness, cool and invigorate the blood.  Since the pathogen has led to a decided change of physiognomy, I would say it has penetrated a touch deeper than the blood level.

The herbal treatment is Qing Luo Yin jia Xing Ren, Yi Ren, Hua Shi Tang.  The herbs in this formula are honeysuckle flowers (jin yin hua), lily pad leaf (he ye), watermelon rind (xi gua pi), apricot kernal (xing ren), talcum (hua shi), loofa gourd (si gua lou), job’s tears (yi yi ren), and bamboo leaf (zhu ye).

Since the problem is obviously due to the skin not releasing the dampness (necessitating its removal by the emergent sea monsters), I would start treatment with the sinew vessels, focusing on finding ah shi points along the ShaoYang channel.  Then I would use the Gallbladder-Liver divergent channel to cool the blood and access the jing level of the body to clear both the heat-pathogen from the blood and prevent it from lodging in the jing level and causing structural changes to the body.

The Gallbladder as one of the extraordinary organs, has a connection with jing, well the GB-LV channel divergence is responsible for using blood to help make a pathogen latent.   The BL-KD channel divergence uses jing to make a pathogen latent, and so it would seem a better choice than the GB-LV CD.  However, these are teenagers, and their reserves of jing prone to variability.   Other reasons also support the use of the GB-LV channel divergence.  In addition to these young men having qi or blood-type bodies (according to the Kanpo method of sorting body types), indicating a reserve of blood, the Channel Divergences are also sometimes seen as the internal trajectory of the primary meridians with which they are associated.  Since the Sinew vessels are the externalisation of the primary meridians, by addressing both we will have strengthened the primary meridian system against this pathogen.

Therefore, treatment would proceed as follows:  Perform sinew vessel releases using Sotai on Du-4 and Du-14.  Find ah shi points along the GB and TH meridians.  Needle these shallowly with a chiselling technique.  Burn one thread of pure moxa at GB-44.

For the points along the channel divergence, I would use a shallow-deep-shallow needle technique, since we want to bring the pathogen out from the jing and blood levels through the now cleared wei qi level.  I would start with one side and angle the needles upwards until GB-1, which I would point towards the other side of the body; then I would needle the rest of the points with the needled pointing towards the jing well point on the strongest side.  Needle GB-30, which is the start of the GB channel divergence and CV-3, which is the confluent point of the GB and LV CD.  I would also choose to needle GB-25, which connects to KD source qi; PC-1 (or LV-14) which store the blood; ST-9 (“Welcome to Humanity”); and GB-1, the closing point of the sequence.  For the weaker side, I would also needle GB-44.  Needles should be retained for at least 20 minutes, and up to 40 minutes.  Treatment should occur every day for three days on, three days off, over a three week period.

As always, this post is for theoretical purposes only.  If you feel you have something stagnating inside you that just wants to break free, and you feel that Chinese medicine may help you, please see a qualified practitioner.

Happy Slayage!

Surprise (Buffy, Season 1)

I barely remember my seventeenth birthday.  I can recall my sixteenth and my eighteenth, and even my nineteenth.  But the seventeenth seems a remote memory.  I do remember finding an early 20th century cake recipe and trying that out (it was quite moist, and kept well).  Obviously, not as eventful as Buffy’s 17th birthday.  But then, my birthday is during the summer, hers during the school year.  I was always mildly jealous of people who celebrated their birthdays during the school year.

While Buffy was busy sorting through nightmares and falling in love, Ms Calendar received a visit from an apparently long lost uncle.  It seems she had gotten distracted from her family duty — to watch Angel and make certain he never forgets what he did to her people.

Lineage, filial piety, and one’s destiny are all intertwined in Chinese medicine.  Particularly since the Song dynasty, when the Confucian morality of filial piety was incorporated into the framework of five phase theory, and the Ming dynasty, when the “Ming Men” or “Gate of Destiny” school of thought became dominant.

Ming men is actually a somewhat difficult term to translate, and calling ming “destiny” doesn’t quite convey the full force or nuance of the character.  Ming is the mandate of heaven, the pattern of life which you unfold physiologically and socially.  Destiny is achieved usually by living out the term of your life, which may be longer or shorter than those around you.  It is intimately bound up with jing, essence, as well as with your lineage.

Lineage can be a powerful factor in a person’s medical profile, and Ms Calendar is no exception.  Usually, this lineage is conceived of as physical and familial:  parent to child, grandparent to grandchild.  But not always.  The fully realised person can choose his or her own lineage, and if a soul has fulfilled the task of its lineage, it will no longer incarnate in that family.  Likewise, if a family’s remaining tasks are not suitable to the curriculum a particular soul must learn, it will not incarnate in that family.  Usually, however, a soul returns to the same family until its karma is worked out.  “It” referring to either the soul or the family.

So what does this have to do with acupuncture and herbal medicine?

The highest work of medicine is the cultivation of destiny.  Since Ms Calendar seems to have gotten distracted from hers, it is time that we bring her what aid she needs.

Earlier, we had diagnosed Jenny Calendar with heart shock.  Did we perhaps misdiagnose her?  I don’t think so.  I think our previous diagnosis did not go far enough.

Shock to the heart can affect its communication with the Kidneys.  The Kidneys store ming men, the fire of the gate of life.  For destiny to manifest itself, the shen of the heart must be in good communication with the jing of the kidneys.

Our first treatment settled the heart enough that we can now focus on bringing its fire into the water of the kidneys without disturbing them.

Herbally, I would use a two medicinal formula as a base:  Huang Lian and Rou Gui.  This combination is said to “lead the fire back to its source” — anchoring the heart fire in the kidneys.  However, we want to make certain that Ms Calendar is able to hold herself together at this time, and so I would add Shan Yao, which tonifies the kidneys and astringes them (and thus consolidates the mission of her lineage).  I also want this mission to manifest itself in her life again.  In other words, I want to work on the outward manifestation of minister fire.  It is currently not manifesting outward because of an emotional shock; therefore, I would work on the Pericardium channel.  Chuan Xiong is a blood invigorating medicinal which goes to the Pericardium.  Since the PC is also known as the Heart Master, it is often pictured as the Confucian scholar who tells the emperor how to order his house.  For Ms Calendar, it will help her order her mission in life.  I might consider adding Shu Di Huang to strengthen the connection of Chuan Xiong (a blood herb) with Shan Yao (a kidney, and thus in some way, a jing herb).

If one wants to try a traditional formula, Huang Lian E Jiao Tang might work nicely, for similar reasons.  The E Jiao serves a similar purpose as Shan Yao in the smaller formula I presented above.

As for acupuncture, how do we cultivate destiny?

Ordinarily, I would immediately go to the jing level and think of working with the Extraordinary Vessels.  Using primary meridians, I would think of the Kidney and Triple Warmer channels.  Luo Vessels, I would think of bleeding the Wei Mai or Du-1 and CV-15, to clear out old emotional habits.  Divergent channels, I might think of the first confluence — BL-KD, since not only do these go to the heart, they also are linked to jing.  The divergent channels, in fact, can be quite powerful in this regard, since they all go to the heart, the residence of the shen.

Why one chooses a particular channel system over another, however, is important to clarify.  Luo vessels clear the emotions; CDs access the heart; EVs move jing and help it to unfold; primary channels bridge the interior and exterior worlds.

In other words, no one set of points is applicable in all cases.  For Jenny Calendar’s case, since she does not need to see her destiny — it is already revealed and opened to her — and merely needs to reconnect to it, I would choose three points, a combination of primary and extraordinary channels:  KD-1, Ren-17, Du-20.

KD-1, bubbling well, accesses the qi of the Kidneys quite directly, as it is a jing-well point.  It can be viewed as a point which helps allow the jing to bubble up from within the person.

Du-20, the meeting of the hundred spirits of the body, can be seen as the highest level of one’s development, the place where heaven enters into one’s body, and the place from which the soul (“ling”) returns to heaven.  As such, it has a relationship to that mandate of heaven.

Ren-17 is the mu point of the Pericardium.  As such, it relates to how one orders one’s life.  By needling this after KD-1 and Du-20, we are bringing the jing qi and shen qi into relationship with this proper ordering.

Together, these three points should access the jing level and orient towards expressing the heavenly mandate in a well ordered manner.

As always, the concepts described in this post are for theoretical purposes only.  If you feel that Asian medicine may help you nourish your destiny, please see a qualified practitioner.

Happy Slayage!

Ted (Buffy, Season 2) Post Two

In the previous post about this episode, we examined Ms Calendar’s trouble sleeping after heart shock and her loss of interest in a former romantic partner.

Now, however, we get to tackle two other interesting pathologies presented in this particular episode, for theoretical purposes and our own general entertainment only, of course.

Ted, the robot who looks human enough to seduce Buffy’s mom, lives in a basement outfitted to resemble a 1950’s home.  Even his vocabulary hasn’t progressed much beyond a sadistic Leave it to Beaver era television show. Occasionally someone presents at clinic with signs and symptoms not unlike these — although, to be honest, usually the folks who appear at acupuncture clinics would be prone to being stuck more in the 60’s or 70’s rather than the 50’s.  The ’50’s were perhaps far too conventional — even in China — for such backwards medicine as acupuncture.

For someone who is stuck in a previous era of their lives and cannot seem to get out of it, I would use the Yang Wei Mai and Yang Qiao Mai.  The former extraordinary vessel deals with how a person integrates with time, while the latter is concerned with how one views the world in relation to what has happened to that person.

Needle technique would be deep and vibrating.  The points I would choose are left TH-5, bilateral GB-13, bilateal BL-1, and right BL-62.  Bladder 62 seems to be my point of the week, I’ve noticed.    If I were to use the primary channels, I would be sure to include LV-14.  In fact, this is one of the few cases in which I would concentrate on the Liver channel, as dealing with smoothing out one’s being in time.  The other channel I might select would be the Triple Heater, dealing as it does with Minister Fire’s allocation of jing according to cycles of seven and eight, and perhaps the Stomach, for its role in going out into the world and processing it.

The other issue concerns not obsessive eating so much as an allergy to food.  This manifested as sudden support of the villain, seeing everything he did through rose coloured glasses, and a generalised strong reaction to and craving for the drug-laced food he provided.

So, it may be a stretch to call this a “food allergy.”  Still, I would use the Channel Divergences for this particular case.

The channel divergences are among the oldest recorded channel trajectories and are the first which ought to be studied.  The link the jing level with the wei qi level, and are particularly effective in treating autoimmune conditions.  These channels are sometimes thought of as the internal branches of the primary meridians, and unite the yin-yang pairs of primary channels into one system.  All the paired divergences connect to the Heart, and they can thus be used to mobilise the Heart’s ability to dispel pathology, much as an emperor can expel enemies with a word.  All their trajectories are upwards, to expel pathogens through the upper orifices, and so it is vital that these be cleared before treatment commences.

Needling technique varies depending on what one intends to do.  If one intends to bring out a pathogen, after assessing that the patient has enough jing, blood, or body fluids to expel the pathogen, a superficial-deep-superficial technique is used.  Otherwise, the reverse holds.  At the deep level, the vibrating technique is used, and treatment is done for three days in a row, after which the body is given a three day break, before treatment resumes for another three days.  This is done over a period of eighteen days, and then the patient’s condition is reassessed.

The Stomach and Spleen divergent channel can effectively be used to treat cases of food allergies.  Energetically, it brings TaiYin fluids to support YangMing, and symptoms of its dysfunction include dryness, acid regurgitation or reflux,IBS, thyroid problems, hives, and blurred vision or cataracts.

The points I would select are ST-30, which is the confluent point of the ST-SP channel divergence; CV-12, which I might choose to gua sha in order to expel wind, if the food allergy manifests as hives or skin rashes; ST-9, which will open the sensory orifices that are clouded by the drug; ST-4, which happens to be the entrance for the drug; and BL-1, the uniting point of the ST and SP channel divergence.

This treatment, minus ST-4, might also prove to be useful in cases of thyroid disease leading to increased blood sugar levels due to medication.

Herbally, I would add Sang Ji Sheng and Shu Di to a formula which clears the mind by treating the Spleen.  I would select Si Jun Zi Tang, and substitute Fu Shen for Fu Ling, and increase the dosage of Bai Zhu.

As always, this post is intended for theoretical purposes only.

Happy slayage!

Would this treatment work for cases of drug-laced food?  I don’t know.

Lie to Me (Buffy, Season 2)

Life isn’t simple.  Neither is death, it seems, when it is expected to come young.

This is the episode in which Buffy’s old schoolmate comes to Sunnydale in order to become a vampire.  We find out that he has a “nest of tumours” which cause him to “vomit for four hours because the pain is so intense.”  He doesn’t want to die; he is only a senior in high school (although Willow found no school records to prove this).

He was just scared.

In school, some clinical rotations saw interns partnered with one another, while other shifts were “solo.”  My first patient in one of these solo clinics came in presenting with an inoperable brain tumour.  Although he was one of the most healthy patients in the clinic otherwise, what most impressed me was his outlook:  “Take it one day at a time.  The days turn into weeks, the weeks into months, and the months into years.”

Then the day came when his appointments at the clinic were all canceled.  He had received news from an imaging study, and the doctors wanted to run more tests.  The patient thought they were going to start him up on another round of chemotherapy, but I never found out what happened.  He canceled the rest of his appointments for that semester.  I haven’t heard from him again.

This post is not going to be about how to treat brain cancer.  I cannot make a claim to diagnose or treat cancer.  What I can offer, however, are some treatments I have been told help patients who are facing death.  Acupuncture can help people find acceptance of their mortality.  I am told it can reassure them that this is not the end of all consciousness, or if it is, it can help them find that peace with their life that comes with the fulfillment of one’s destiny.

This discussion, then, while theoretical, is very real.  If you wish to apply it, please find a qualified practitioner.  This information has been transmitted through the Jade Purity tradition of Daoism (Taoism).

For acupuncture, I would consider the following points:

If it wasn’t clear whether the patient would die or not, I would initially use the 9 points for returning yang, to see how the patient responded.  If no response was forthcoming, then I would use the points to ease Buffy’s friend into acceptance of mortality.

The first set of points are:

Du15 to help the person re-engage with the world; SP6, to consolidate leakage — stop the vomiting; PC8, to clear heat from the HT and reorient the shen.  The shen can be thought of as fire, and heart fire can be thought of as the shen trying to find release.  Cooling this fire with the ying-spring point can help calm the shen.

Kd1, Kd3, CV12 would be the next set to try.  I would use moxa on these points to tonify them in cases of disorientation and to anchor the jing in the body.

The third set is used when the patient has lost all sensory function, and the points are strongly moxabust:  GB30, ST36, LI4.

Since that isn’t our patient, however, I might try the following approach:

Moxa on Bl-60, KunLun.  In ancient Chinese cosmology, the Kunlun mountains of the West was the realm in which the Queen of the West tended her orchard.  Among the trees of that paradise were the peaches of immortality.  For the Buddhists of China, Kunlun became a sort of Buddhist Eden. Moxa on this fire point refers to the Buddhist ritual of cremating the dead, so that the soul can give up its attachment to the body.  The west also relates to the element metal, as manifested in mountains being pushed up from the earthen plains.  Metal resonates with the po, the corporeal spirits who both fear death and long for it.

I might also add Du-20, which is where the Yuan Shen exits; Du-26 or CV-24 where the hun exits; and Du-1 where the po exits.  Yin tang is where the ming, the destiny departs from.  Coincidentally for our patient, the Du Mai enters the brain; what effect treating the Du Mai would have on him physically would be interesting to note.

To augment this, I might vary it with the combination of  Du-1, and CV15 to clear the emotions held in these two extraordinary vessels; these emotions form the basis for what gets transmitted through the lineage.  This latter couple also opens the Bao Mai.  Another way in which the Du and Ren mai can be emptied is by working with the Qiao Mai — hence another reason to use BL-62.  KD-6 could be used for a like reason.  If the person is in pain — emotional pain — the xi-cleft points of the Qiao Mai could be bled.

If I wanted to stick with primary channels (or work with the Chang Mai), we could choose points on the PC and KD channels to help release the sense if injustice Buffy’s friend felt.  PC 5, 7, 8; KD 22 – 26 at 1.5 cun from midline.  I would select KD points on the basis of their names.

Herbally,  I might consider also another simple decoction of Suan Zao Ren, Shi Chang Pu, and Yuan Zhi.  This combination nourishes the heart, opens the portals, and scours out phlegm which can obstruct the portals of the heart.  It might help calm the anxiety our patient feels and open him up to greater tranquility.

I would use Wu Shen San, a powder made from Ku Shen, Ren Shen, Xuan Shen, Sha Shen, and Dan Shen, when death approaches more closely. The dose is very small, measured in half-grammes.

Finally, the day of or the day before death, I would give him — assuming he can sip water — a dose of Tian Ling Xiang, Fragrance for the Celestial Soul.  This is composed of Tian Dong, which kills ghosts in the marrow (and brain); Ling Zhi, known as the mushroom of immortality; Mu Xiang, which relaxes the diaphragm, and presumably also the Dai Mai; Sheng Ma, which has an ascendant quality to open Du-20; Sang Zhi (or sang ji sheng, but choose only one of the two), to extinguish wind and bring the hun to help those who are stuck harmonise their jing and shen; and Gou Ji Zi, which nourishes goes to the kidneys yet also nourishes the hun and shen.


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