Dirty Girls (Buffy, Season 7, Episode 18)

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Happy Slayage!

Consequences (Buffy, Season Three, Ep 15)

This episode opens with a dream sequence in which the slain Deputy Mayor is trying to pull Buffy into the murky depths of (presumably) the Sunnydale High swimming pool.  (We all remember the unfortunate incident with last season’s swim team, right?)  When Buffy breaks the surface, Faith is there waiting to push her back under.  Buffy wakes up gasping for breath.

Later, Xander tries to go over to Faith’s place to bring her around, let her know that people are there to help her.  She throws him on the bed, straddles him, and then proceeds to demonstrate the  asphyxiation technique, with both erotic and deadly overtones.  Xander becomes short of breath.

Finally, towards the end, Buffy is pinned by the throat against a wall by Mr. Trick, choking the life out of the Slayer before he takes a much desired bite.  Unfortunately for him, Mr Trick is dusted by an unquenchable spark of loyalty in Faith (unless she was actually just riled up by all the action and had that down low tickly feeling she needed to get out by slaying one last vampire just in the nick of time).

Shortness of breath is a symptom commonly seen in the clinic.  Its western diagnoses can be as varied as asthma, COPD, or simple habituated hyperventilation.  Chinese medicine treats shortness of breath differently depending on whether it is more difficult to inhale or to exhale; whether the shortness of breath (SOB) is accompanied by general overall fatigue, or if it comes and goes; and whether some obstruction — like phlegm or fluids — is present.

Physiologically speaking, in the East Asian medical paradigm, breathing is a result of the Lungs descending qi.  This qi is from the air we breathe, but once inside the body it becomes a part of the ancestral qi which gathers in the chest.  As this qi descends, it must pass through the diaphragm.  The diaphragm is more important in some schools and periods of Chinese medicine than in others.  If constrained, the diaphragm can block not just the descent of Lung qi, but also the ascend of Liver qi.  Treatment would involve not simply regulating the directionality of physiological qi movement, but also on releasing the diaphragm.  After the qi passes below the diaphragm, the Kidneys grasp it, and the qi then ‘lights’ the flame of minister fire which uses the jing stored in the Kidneys as fuel.  The minister fire then rises up the shu points of the back or across the mu points of the abdomen, distributing jing-qi to each point and its associated organs.

Greater difficulty inhaling is considered to be due to weak Kidneys; difficulty exhaling, weak Lungs.  Generalised fatigue is also considered to be more of a Lung issue.

As a side note, in some cases of infertility, nourishing the Kidneys in an effort to grasp the Lung qi can also help the jing of the woman (or the mixed jing of a woman and man, to be specific) grasp a shen, thus conceiving a child.

TCM style acupuncture will typically make use of point such as LU-7 and CV-22 to help descend Lung qi, and KD3, KD6, or KD7 to nourish the Kidneys’ ability to grasp that Lung qi.

Another approach would be to trace the path by which mu points are formed with the first breath, as Jeffrey Yuen describes in one of his seminars (I believe it is in his NESA Channel Divergences seminar).  Breath enters the nose or mouth, then collects in the basin of ST-12.  ST-12 is a point known to release the diaphragm; the Stomach meridian actually splits into two branches here, one of which descends to that muscle intimately tied to breathing.  From here, it reaches LU-1, the mu point of the Lungs.  It then descends further to its associated metal organ mu point, ST-25, the mu point of the Large Intestine.  From here the qi moves upwards to GB-25, the mu point of the Kidneys, and branches into three paths.  One path circles around to the back via the Dai Mai, reaching BL-52, BL-23, and Du-4 — the back shu point of Will, of the Kidneys, and Ming Men, respectively.  This is where the ‘fire’ of minister fire is lit.  The other path moves downwards to meet with the mu point of the water fu organ, the Bladder, at CV-3.  (From CV-3, the qi would move to the associated water-fire fu organ, the Triple Heater, at CV-5, and then back down to CV-4, the mu point of the SI, the associated fire fu organ.)  Meanwhile, another branch moves qi to LV-14, the mu point of the Liver, and then into the mu point of the Gallbladder, GB-24 (from which it moves to CV-17).  Qi continues to move along the generation cycle of elements to each of the organ systems of the Heart, Stomach, and Spleen, the last two also being the influential points of all the fu and zang organs.

When I have used this approach in the clinic, I typically needle three points along the pathway at a time, and then remove whatever was the least recent needle, before adding a new needle.  Thus, I would needle ST-12, LU-1, ST-25, obtaining qi at each point.  Then I would remove ST-12 and needle GB-25, obtain qi, and remove LU-1.  In the particular case we are treating for this episode, I would trace the pathway to the back shu points while also needling CV-3 with the patient side-lying.  I would stop at CV-5 and Du-4 if I thought that treatment was sufficient.

It is said that needling the jing-well points is good for restoring consciousness in someone who nearly drowned, but I hope never to have the opportunity to try this protocol and cannot vouch for its efficacy.

As for herbal treatments, Chinese medicine has a variety of options.  The simple pair Jie Geng and Xing Ren acts to harmonise the flow of qi into and out of the Lungs.  The Xing Ren (apricot kernals) descend Lung qi, while the Jie Geng (Balloonflower root) floats it upwards.

For childhood asthma, Kanpo might use a small dose of a formula like Ma Xing Shi Gao Tang.  The Ma Huang helps open the bronchial passages, the Xing Ren to descend qi, and the Shi Gao to anchor it downwards and generate enough fluid to counteract any drying property the Ma Huang might have.

As always, this post is for entertainment and theoretical purposes only.  If you feel that Chinese medicine may benefit you or someone you know, please see a qualified practitioner.

Happy Slayage!