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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Happy slayage!

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

Downward movement:

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

Upward movement:

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

Back into centre:

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

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!