Touched (Buffy, Season 7, Episode 20)

How sexuality impacts one’s approach to an apocalypse is explored in this episode, augmented by an excellent soundtrack.   Faith and Wood let out their physical tension; Xander and Anya find comfort in the familiarity of one another’s bodies; Willow and Kennedy finally go ‘all the way’; and Buffy and Spike achieve an intimacy which does not rely on sexual activity, but on simple holding and being held by another person.

Sexual encounters aside, the actual plot involves Faith leading the potentials into a trap:  They discover a bomb in the vineyard moments before it explodes.  Diagnostically, the episode references sweat and scent several times.  Wood refers to how when the First appeared to him, it took the form and image of his mother, right down to her perfume.  Spike tracks Buffy by her scent (despite not breathing; but then, we saw him  waterboarded by a Torakhan earlier in the season, a form of torture which should not have affected a non-breathing creature).

Overall, this episode provides a good opportunity to revisit some Channel Divergence physiologies as they link up with other channel systems.  The diagnostic entry point will be a re-examination of the five odours as they pertain to the CDs and point to other channel systems.  Then I will examine sexual form and function from several channel perspectives.

To review, the five odours and their five-phase correlates among the Primary Channels are generally listed as:

Rancid, like oil that has been too long exposed to air, is associated with the Wood phase of the Liver and Gallbladder.

Scorched, appropriately associated with the Fire phase of Heart and Small Intestine.

Fragrant, Sweet, corresponding to the flavour of earth and grains (when chewed for a long time), is associated with the Earth phase, and the Spleen and Stomach organs.  (The Pancreas are associated with the Spleen in this system.)

Rotten, Rank, or Fishy, like the breath of one who has tuberculosis or a Lung abscess, is associated with the metal phase, and with the Lungs and Large Intestine.

Putrid, Rotting, Decay, the scent of winter’s kill before it freezes, or the smell of wood left underwater and ice for a season, is associated with the water phase, and with the Kidney and Bladder organs.

The Channel Divergences link the yin and yang primary channels of a particular phase of qi (wood, fire, earth, metal, water), and in this way a diagnostic correspondence between patient odour and channel to be treated could be formed.  However, let’s complicate the picture in two different ways.  The first way is to link the CDs with other channel systems by phase.  The second way is to look at the interaction of CD fluids, channel systems, and organ-tissue relationships.

To begin with the first set, but with an eye to the second:

The BL-KD CD is associated with jing, and draws heavily on the Extraordinary Vessel system.

The GB-LV CD is associated with xue-blood, and relates in particular to the mu points and Luo Vessels.

The ST-SP CD is associated with jin-fluids, and intersects with the Heart through its own trajectory, through the Chong Mai’s relationship with blood, and through its ability to nourish the upper sensory portals, including the tongue.

The SI-HT CD is associated with both sweat and ye-thick fluid, which nourishes the Sinew Vessels.

The TW-PC CD is associated with ying qi, and moves heat out to jing-well points through nodes to terminations.  Sinew Vessels begin at the jing-well points.

The LI-LU CD is associated with wei qi,  and begins the cycle of primary meridians.

Bringing the five-phase odour correspondences into the above chart, several resonances between odour and channel systems occur:

Decaying, putrid odours point towards jing and the EVs.  (Note that decay can be associated with the teeth as the SI meridian deposits pathogens there to maintain latency.)

Rancid odours indicate the luo vessels, and emotion left too long un-aired out and unresolved.

Fragrant odours point to the heart and sense of perception.

Scorched odours, that ‘burnt out’ smell, indicate the marrow and sinews may benefit from treatment first.

Rotten, fishy odours suggest that the primary meridian cycle may be most effective in treating the pathophysiology currently underway in the person.

Next, the organ-tissue correspondences as they are associated with CD fluids:

LV is associated with blood and sinews (possibly meaning ‘nerves’); GB governs the bones.  In the CD channel system, the SI-HT CD relates to the sinews.  This comes about in part because SI-9, on the SI-HT CD trajectory, moves blood into the sinews.  The form of the sinews is felt through the movement of ye-thick fluid, the fluid of the SI CD.  The function of the sinews is brought about through blood, the fluid of the GB-LV CD.  The blood relationship of the Liver is more closely linked to the Luo Vessel system here.

HT rules over the mai, the vessels.  This includes the arteries as well as the jing-luo mai, the qi mai, and the bao mai. In other words, the Heart rules over the primary meridian cycle, the luo mai system of collaterals, the extraordinary vessels, and the enveloping vessel.  Absent are the CDs (but all the CDs go to the Heart) and the Sinew Channels (but the Sinew Channels are associated with the SI-HT CD).

SP is associated with the flesh; ST is associated with blood.  Because the luo vessels are about how events have not been ‘digested’  or assimilated by the person in question, the ST-SP CD and the Luo Vessels have a relationship.  Looking at the relation between LV and ST in this respect may be useful, for treatment patterns.  The Yin Wei Mai, a major intersection on the ST-SP CD could bear a certain relationship to the flesh, as the inner aspect of the body’s substance, linking everything together.

LU is associated with the skin, which is the domain of wei qi and the sinew vessels; LI is associated with jin-fluids, which provide the source of wei qi.  The LU, LI, SJ-PC CD and SI-HT CD all overlap with the beginnings of the sinew vessels.  In fact, however, the SI-HT CD is more associated with the end or binding points of the sinew vessels, while the SJ-PC CD is associated with their beginnings.  The LU-LI system is associated with wei qi, which is also the domain of the sinew vessels.  However, because the LU-LI CD is also associated with the Primary Channels, the LU-LI system goes ‘deeper’ into the body than the sinew channels themselves would.

KD are associated with bones, but the GB ‘masters’ the bones; the BL is associated with jing.  This correspondence fits in nicely with the BL-KD CD association with the EVs.  However, the SI-HT CD deposits pathogens in the jing-associated teeth.  The SI is further associated with the thick fluids which nourish jing-associated marrow.  However, the BL-SI and KD-HT channels link up through their TaiYang and ShaoYin associations.

When the topic turns to sexual function, several aspects come to the fore.  First, LV-5, the LV luo point, which is also on the LV CD trajectory, influences libido.  (The BL-KD CD and its relationship to the lineage-linked jing is clearly implicated in sexual functioning.)  Second, the relationship between wei qi and jing shares an analagous relationship to ejaculation:  wei qi is the yang qi which propels jing outside the body.   In this regard, two other CDs come into play, the SJ-PC channel divergence which conveys yang qi (and links the Heart and Kidneys, essential for climax — the moment when Heart Fire is discharged downwards towards the Kidneys) and the LI-LU CD which deals with wei qi.  Third, the SI-HT CD comes into play when sensation is involved; this includes pathophysiologies like vulvadinia and perhaps also hydroceles.   The ST-SP CD comes into play with openness and making sense of the person one is relating to (or not relating to) in sexual intercourse.

Perhaps in a future post, I will take each of the couples as a case study to illustrate the interplay of each channel system.  For now, however, the post is long enough!

As always, these posts are meant for entertainment and educational purposes, and are not meant to diagnose, treat, or cure any particular conditions.  If you or a loved one have recently begun to smell different and you are concerned about what this may mean, please see a qualified practitioner.  Happy Slayage!


Two to Go (Buffy, Season 6, Episode 21)

As the Sccobies try to stop Willow and save the remaining two ‘Super Villains’ (who were placed in a jail cell after the aborted jetpack attempt in Episode 19), Xander comments that he’s seeing all the dark sides of people lately. Meanwhile, Willow drains herself of magic, goes to Rack for a ‘tune up’, kills him, and gets drugged out on magic. She also cannot see anything else since Tara’s death.  As she is about to finish off her friends, she gets blasted by a returning Giles.  A small trickle of blood leaks from her nose from that blast.

This is a fairly difficult episode to diagnose, and I don’t really have an acupuncture treatment for nosebleeds.  (Herbally, just roll up a fresh perilla leaf and insert it into the bleeding nostril.)  However, the Arm Yang Ming sinew vessel treats an inability of the neck to turn right or left to see.  I will therefore use it to treat both Xander and Willow (if one can get to her), in an attempt to resolve their  inability to see aught else, that is, to turn the head to see other options.  The Arm Yang Ming sinew symptoms differ from the Foot Tai Yang sinew indications in that the latter involves an inability to move either left or right, while the former involves the issue of sight.

The Arm Yang Ming sinew vessel goes up along the front of the neck, and in this case, opening the orifices of the neck is of supreme importance.  The SCM, scalenes, levator scapula, and deep front line should all be massaged gently, to loosen them up and engage the parasympathetic nervous system.  I might forgo cupping or doing gua sha on Du-4 and Du-14 in this case, and try to stimulate the areas with tui na or acupressure while the patient is in a supine position.  Surprise needling with a hot needle is indicated for the inability to turn the head to see, but okyu or thread moxa along tender points of the vessel works well, too.  LI-18 in particular may be tender, as well as points around the shoulder, LI-10 and LI-11.  The treatment can close either by okyu at LI-1 or following that, by needling LI-2, to keep the illness from going internally.  In that case, I would needle LI-2, and do cone moxa at ST-9 or ST-5, with a needle at ST-12 (the point at which illnesses truly go interior into the body).

For herbal medicine, Gou Qi Zi, goji berries, help a person look at their own shadow and not recoil.  That capacity must be brought to the surface, to the wei qi level, and so I would combine the Gou Qi Zi with Ju Hua, Chrysanthemum, which is said to benefit the eyesight, in addition to releasing the exterior.  In other words, Ju Hua not only moves wei qi, it draws the wei qi up and out from BL-1.  Because it goes to both the Lung and Liver, its influence over the proper movement of we qi is particularly effective.  Sang Ye, which aids in self-transformation, is another exterior releasing herb which goes to the Lung and Liver.  However, if we want to move the wei qi into the Yang Ming sinew vessels, Xin Yi Hua makes an effective envoy.  As the primary herb to treat runny nose, it not only opens the orifices through its acridity, freeing up perception, it also goes to where the arm and foot yang ming channels meet, namely, the nose.  The trajectory of both those channels passes along the front of the throat, and in combination with other exterior releasing herbs, will help free up those muscles.  (Some herbalists may want to add Mu Zei or Ge Gen, both of which release the muscle layer, for added efficacy in a strictly muscular case of inability to turn the neck to see.)

As always, these posts are for entertainment and educational purposes only.  If you or a loved one are so focused on one thing that you cannot see other options, or if your neck has seized up due to a cold draft, please see a qualified practitioner.

Happy Slayage!

Entropy (Buffy, Season 6, Episode 18)

Fallout continues from Xander and Anya’s break up as they confront one another for the first time since the wedding.  Xander learns that Anya has become a vengeance demon again (never overestimate how permanently you’ve changed a person once you break up with them; they often return, willingly or not, to previous roles once you’re out of the picture).

In addition to a noticeably good soundtrack, this episode features grains galore for breakfast, and only one bowl of fruit, as Buffy begins to pay more attention to Dawn.  Food combination is not Buffy’s strong point, and she doesn’t seem to realise that fresh fruit mixed with grain is a perfect recipe for fermentation of both — except in this case, that fermentation will occur in Dawn’s stomach.  Besides, grain can be difficult for some people to digest, but it isn’t obvious whether Buffy or Dawn are gluten-intolerant.  On the other hand, intestinal problems are mentioned by Anya:  during the post-break up plotline when Xander and Anya confront one another at their old apartment (which of course, Anya still had access to),  Anya wishes that Xander’s intestines were twisting, or, as she phrased it, ‘Your intestines tied in knots and ripped apart inside your lousy gut.’  Such is how some people with Celiac, Crohn’s, or Irritable Bowel Disease sometimes feel.  Fortunately for Xander, Anya can’t grant her own wishes, and she spends the rest of the episode trying to get Xander’s female friends to wish something bad would happen to him.

Towards the end of the episode, Anya and Spike have sympathy sex, which Willow, Xander, Buffy, and Dawn see by gaining access to the Supervillains’ hidden cameras.  Anya doesn’t seem to realise that having had sex with Spike has made her forbidden to Xander from that point forwards, even if what she did, as she tells Xander in a subsequent episode, was for solace, not revenge.

The falling apart of Xander/Anya and Buffy/ Spike is contrasted with the potential, but slow mend of Willow and Tara’s relationship.  As Tara says at the end, ‘when things fall apart, they fall apart so hard. you can’t ever put ’em back the way they were…’  It’s part of the beauty of the writing of the Buffyverse:  the characters make mistakes and then they have to deal with those mistakes, in character.  Joss later characterised Tara and Willow’s relationship as the best relationship of the series — of course he had to throw horrible events at it, to see what would happen.  In this episode, a reconciliation occurs.  But Willow had done what Tara asked:  Willow had realised for herself that magic was ruling her life, and gave it up.  Once Tara saw that her condition for even just being friends with Willow was met, Tara came back.  I would argue that for Tara, this return isn’t about desire, but about a sense of honouring her word and conditions.

So this week’s diagnosis is intestinal disorders.  Wei qi governs the automatic and unconscious process of digestion.  If too much wei qi enters the gut, inflammation is the result.  The inflammation can be due to any number of causes, including allergies (a type of wind-heat reaction on the interior), qi stuck in the viscera due to blood or qi stagnation in the vessels or sinews, or dampness the body seeks to ‘burn off’ (this will lead to either damp-heat or phlegm syndromes if it becomes chronic).

In terms of the sinew vessels, while the foot shao yang channel relates to the obliques and abdominal muscles of the exterior (and thus also to the Dai Mai extraordinary vessel), the Arm Shao Yin (HT) sinew vessel is indicated for more interior conditions.  Specifically, it treats a sense of urgent restraint on interior, like a deep lying beam below the heart with binding at the elbow.   Incidentally, the binding at the elbow can be interpreted to mean an inability to actually extend oneself outward to make things happen, or to change the situation oneself.  Such is the case with Anya, as her wishes cannot harm Xander; and with Tara, who must wait for Willow to act before she can do anything herself with a sense of integrity.  It also may treat Spike’s condition with regard to Buffy:  he cannot make her act, and feels the heaviness of heart which comes from realising someone he loves does not love him back.

Treatment involves gua sha or cupping at Du-4 and Du-14, followed by neck releases, and needling the ah shi points along the HT Shao Yin channel of the arm.  Thread moxa or hot needle is applied at HT-9, at the ring-finger side of the tip of the little finger.

As for the extraordinary vessels, the Ren Mai has influence over the sphincters of the gut, and is specifically indicated for knotting and tuggings of the intestines.  I would pair the Ren Mai with either the Dai Mai, if I needed to regulate holding and elimination, or with Yin Wei Mai, due to its influence over posture, and the effect which intestinal adhesions and mesenteric lesions can have on posture.  If posture is the issue, I would use a more Japanese oriented approach and take a five-element diagnosis before giving the EV treatment using only needles at the opening and coupled points of LU-7 and GB-41 (maybe add salt moxa over the navel, the intersection of Ren Mai and Dai Mai, and an effective treatment for chronic diarrhea, especially for people on certain anti-retroviral medications).  (Ren Mai and Yin Wei Mai intersect at CV-22 and CV-23, so would be more indicated for disorders involving difficulty in swallowing, either food or events, experiences, and circumstances.)  I would follow the EV treatment with some sotai or other bodywork therapy (visceral osteopathy, or releases taught in Love Your Guts seminars) to help realign the body’s posture and release the intestinal or mesenteric adhesions.

When it comes to herbal treatments, several formulas can be utilised for intestinal disorders.  I’m more interested in herbs for mending, in terms of this episode, however.  One option is to use the Plum Flower patent medicine ‘Great Mender’, which is indicated for fractures and broken bones, but which goes to the jing level to nourish the Kidneys and moisten the marrow to help give resilience to the body.

To numb Anya’s hurt, though, and to make the sun shine brighter and make boring people interesting, I would use the herb He Huan Hua or He Huan Pi (Flos vel Cortex Albizzia), commonly called ‘Chinese Prozac’.  It should only be used for short periods of time, however, as it can accumulate in the liver.  It should be combined with other herbs which clear and calm the shen or which resolve blood stagnation.  Dang Gui, Fu Ling, Dan Shen, and Tai Zi Shen come to mind.  This will produce a formula somewhat like a minor version of Ba Zhen Tang, but geared to regulating qi and blood to calm and orient the shen.

As always, these posts are for entertainment and educational purposes only.  If you or a loved one feel like their guts have been ripped out by the actions of another person or simply by that morning’s breakfast, please see a qualified practitioner.  Happy slayage!

Older and Far Away (Buffy, Season 6, Episode 14)

‘Older and Far Away’.  How apropos, given this post will be published on my birthday…

As Buffy struggles to re-anchor herself in life, Xander and Anya prepare for their wedding, and Willow is in recovery, no one pays attention to Dawn.  Dawn’s pain cries out for attention.  She receives that much needed attention from Anya’s old colleague, the ‘justice demon’ Halfrek (who seems to have obtained a position as guidance counsellor at Sunnydale High).  Dawn wishes people would just stop going away.  Her wish comes true that night.

Meanwhile, it also happens to be Buffy’s (original) birthday, and the Scoobies come over for a little party.  At some point, they discover that no one can leave the house, including Spike, who is trying to bed Buffy despite the presence of a new date for her (a human date).   To complicate matters, a demon whom Buffy killed by trapping it in a sword gets released and starts hunting the party-goers. Finally, Anya discovers that Dawn has been shoplifting from the Magic Shop.

Everyone has necklaces in this episode, interestingly enough.

Dawn wishes people would stop … going away.  The sinew vessel which controls slowing down and stopping is the Yang Ming sinew vessel, which runs from the second toe along the anterior lateral aspect of the leg and up the rectus abdominus muscle to the eye.

Spike references the channel when he mentions he has a ‘muscle cramp’ he wants Buffy to work out of him.   He is referring to his ‘ancestral sinew’, which can refer to either the genitals, or particularly in Matsumoto’s interpretation, the abdominis rectus — in other words, the domain of Yang Ming.

Clem, the demon with a skin condition, might also benefit from a Yang Ming sinew treatment.  Yang Ming is the stage when heat gets trapped in the interior, causing flaccidity.  In Clem’s case, the heat needs to be released through the skin to tighten his connective tissue disorder.  The skin, as an exterior organ governed by the Lungs, is an area which responds well to sinew treatments, as these treatments focus on wei qi.

The Yang Ming sinew vessel includes the arms, not just the legs.  In the Samurai demon who must be disarmed if he is to be killed with his own sword, a quick an-mo massage treatment (or martial application of acupressure) to his Arm Yang Ming Channel at the elbow and wrist might just do the trick of stopping him by over-tonifying the qi of that channel.

As noted before, it was Dawn’s pain which summoned Halfrek.  When wei qi stagnates, dull, achey pain is the result, calling attention to the area.  The Nei Jing says that where there is pain, there is a point.  This is the Ah Shi point, a point discovered by sensitivity to palpation, and an integral part of any Sinew Vessel treatment.

In the case of all the Scoobies, treatment would be cupping around Du 4 and Du 14 to bring yang wei qi to the surface.  The channel is then palpated (maybe Buffy should not palpate Spike’s channel for now) and not more than three ah shi points are needled, using a chisel technique, or if tonifying the channel, use warming moxa cones.  Then the jing-well point of the ST or LI channel is needled, followed by tonification of the ying-spring point, so that the illness does not go into the interior.
At the end of the episode, everyone praises the beauty of the stars in the sky. Points along the CV and Du Mai have been needled as a reflection of the Big Dipper.  Perhaps as a follow-up treatment to restore a sense of beauty in our characters, an EV treatment which needles those points is in order.

As for herbal treatments focused on Yang Ming, Ge Gen is a good carrier herb, as this goes releases the muscle layer and the exterior, like Mu Zei.  Huang Qi and Pu Gong Ying make a good combination not only to nourish blood, but also to secure the exterior while removing heat toxins from the interior — something Clem might benefit from.

As always, these posts are for entertainment purposes only.  If you feel your skin condition may benefit from Chinese Medicine, please see a qualified practitioner.  Happy Slayage!

Helpless (Buffy, Season Three, Ep 12)

Buffy celebrates another birthday, the anniversary of Angel losing his soul.  (Angel does not celebrate.)

Is this the first episode in which we see Giles in an ambiguous position, in which we aren’t quite sure if he’s really a “good guy” or a “bad guy”?  Where do Giles’ loyalties really lie?  By the end of the episode, I think the answer is made clear:  they lie with Buffy herself.

The episode is interesting for its lit-crit potential as well.   A brief deconstruction of the plot would highlight its portrayal of the paternalism and patriarchy of the English sort which gave rise to the development of teenage culture.  At least one book, Teenage, The Prehistory of Youth Culture 1875 – 1945 by Jon SavageTeenage, makes the case that youth culture really began to take on the qualities we associate with it today after the European and British governments sent its youth off to be killed during the ill-fated Great War.  After WWII, we saw teenage rebellion in the 50s, after another generation was sent to war by their fathers.  Ditto in the US during Vietnam.  The point would seem to be that children cannot trust the government of their fathers — or mothers, now, perhaps.

Enter feminism and enter Buffy.  One can be a “hero, female” without having superpowers, as Buffy proves in this episode.  Nor is Patriarchy necessarily good for men, even old white Anglo men — especially if they do not hold ultimate power, nor seek it.

Buffy will eventually note this primary element in feminist discourse — that it is a tool for analysing structures of power, and a philosophy for making structural change — in Season Five.

But let’s turn our attention to issues that can be treated by Chinese medicine.

In hypnotising Buffy, Giles instructs Buffy to “Look at the flaw at the centre of the crystal.”  While one could take this as a comment on the Watcher’s Council, I will use it as a foreshadowing of the problem that manifests at the end of the episode:  Zackary Kralik, the deranged vampire with “mother issues” ends up shows that he also has a weak spot in his centre, that is, in his digestive system.  He drinks holy water and gets dusted from the inside out.

Poor Zackary Kralik.

Acute case of a damaged centre.

Perhaps if he had been taken different pills, the effects of the holy water would have been mitigated.  The Divine Farmer’s Materia Medica notes several herbs which treat “damaged centre”.  Among them are shi hu, gan di huang, yuan zhi, shan yao, mai men dong, sang bai pi, lu jiao jiao, and hei zhi ma.  Xu duan and niu xi are also used.

Shi Hu and Mai Dong are a classic combination to supplement Stomach yin.  Di Huang, Yuan Zhi, Shan Yao, Lu Jiao Jiao, and Sang Bai Pi all relate to essence, and often focus on its retention.  Hei Zhi Ma and Shan Yao are also used for their nourishing qualities.  Niu Xi and Xu Duan both strengthen the kidneys and sinews.  A damaged centre, then, seems to be indicated when the stomach is too weak to supplement the pre-natal essence.  This may be one result of anorexia nervosa (which Zackary does not seem to have), and I may consider using some of these herbs to rectify the damage caused by extensive fasting.

I might note that the combination of Sang Bai Pi and Di Huang is used as an envoy to direct medicinals to the Channel Divergences.  Lu Jiao Jiao is rather too sweet, warming and outwardly moving for this effect — usually.  Perhaps not in a case where one wishes to build up essence and strengthen Stomach fluids to push out a pathogen.

While the above herbs would indeed make an interesting formula, I might select for Zackary a combination already in the formulary:  Harmonise the Six Fu Decoction.  Interestingly, this formula does not have any of the above herbs in it.  Rather, it makes use of Ren Shen, Sha Ren, Ban Xia, Xing Ren, Bai Zhu, Huo Xiang, Bai Bian Dou, (Chi) Fu Ling, Mu Gua, Hou Po, Gan Cao.  Each of these herbs has a correlate with one form the previous list.  Ban Xia and Yuan Zhi, for example, both scour phlegm.  Mu Gua, which relaxes the muscles, is complemented by Niu Xi and Xu Duan, which strengthen them.  Ren Shen and Bai Zhu is a different aspect of Shi Hu and Mai Dong.  Xing Ren and Hei Zhi Ma both moisten the Large Intestine.  Sang Bai Pi is outward moving, as is Huo Xiang.

Essentially, this formula is for someone whose qi is already fairly intact, just disordered.  It can be used to build someone up — after all, it contains both Ren Shen and Sha Ren.  But it isn’t something to necessarily use long-term — except perhaps in Southern China, where this formula might have a greater resonance.  The former formula might be too heavy for their climate (and thus also too heavy for the above-ground dwelling population of Sunnydale).

As for acupuncture, I’ve already treated someone with the ST-SP channel diveregence, to which we were pointed by the collection of single herbs.  We’ve also treated Spleen issues with the Luo Vessels.  Primary channel points for improper diet could also be used in this case.  So that leaves Sinew Vessels and Extraordinary Meridians.  Two channel systems with completely different domains:  wei qi in the former case, jing in the latter.

I would choose the Sinew Vessels in this case, especially since wei qi moves faster than jing and time is of the essence here (no pun intended).

IBS symptoms can be seen as too much wei qi going to the intestines.  Stomach fire conditions are likewise able to be analysed the same way — too much wei qi.  Hot type hemorrhoids, Crohn’s, and various food allergies are all manifestations of too much wei qi on the interior.  (Harmonise the Six Fu decoction moves the wei qi to the exterior through the use of Huo Xiang; Mu Gua — which relaxes the sinews to open them up to the exterior; and the aromatic qualities of Hou Po.)

To diagnose which meridian is disordered, one could use any of the typical diagnostic procedures, with an eye to diagnosing the wei qi level or the level just interior: pulse, hara, and palpation along the channels.

Since this is an emergency case, let’s choose the confluent points of all the yin channels — CV-17, where wei qi enters in at night; CV-3 or CV-2 (depending on which is not already burned by Buffy’s cross) and GB-22.  We don’t have time to palpate along all the channels to diagnose ah shi points for shallow needling.  So let’s choose to release all the jing-wells of the feet and arms by doing vigorous needling at GB-20 and GB-30.  (Needling all these Gallbladder points might have a positive overall effect on whatever neurological issue Zackary has, too.)  One might choose to add some thread moxa or even cup these areas, time permitting.

As always, these posts are for entertainment and theoretical purposes only.  If you feel Chinese medicine may benefit you, please seek a qualified practitioner.

Happy Slayage!

Lovers Walk (Buffy, Season Three, Ep 8) — Post One of Two

In this episode, we see Spike return to Sunnydale, miserable and moping over his loss of Drusilla to an antlered demon.  We see Willow and Xander trying desperately to fall out of love, while Buffy and Angel realise the hopelessness of their own relationship.  This is the episode in which Cordelia and Oz walk in on Willow and Xander in a somewhat compromising situation.

It wasn’t until Season Four that I began to realise Spike is a symbol for Buffy’s relationships, an outward manifestation of her own inner demons.  While I’m not certain the writers specifically thought of him that way, he fits into such a deconstruction of the Buffy plotline.

Aside from the lovesickness, the episode offers a number of intriguing diagnoses to follow up on.  Buffy mentions her mother’s head spinning around and then exploding when Joyce saw Buffy’s SAT scores.  (This was a metaphorical head explosion, as Giles sought to clarify.)  Buffy and Spike both reference rashes, pustules, boils, and leprosy.

Falling out of love is the most intriguing , however.  Given all the possibilities offered by this episode, I will split it up into two parts, as I did with the Ted episodes of Season Two.  This post, then, will examine Head Wind and Rashes.

Poor Joyce.  She’s gone through so much (and has yet more to experience).  Let’s examine some of her case history, shall we?

First, we diagnosed her with mild anemia due to falling on a barbecue fork.  We treated her Stomach primary meridian.  Then we treated her for food allergies due to Ted’s scrumptiously laced cookies.  We used the Stomach and Spleen divergent channel.  Most recently, we diagnosed her with age-inappropriate behaviour (also due to over-consumption of sugary foods), and gave her an herbal decoction aimed at levelling her Liver and Kidney channels; we also used a primary meridian treatment focused on the Stomach, Heart, and Triple Heater meridians.  It seems like she has an earth-related deficiency, and her excessive worry about Buffy fits this profile.

If I were actually treating her, and she continued to manifest these earth-related issues, I would want to try a different approach.  I might select a deeper channel to really push out these habituated pathologies.  Keeping that approach in mind, let’s look at her most recent diagnosis, provided by her daughter, Buffy.

Buffy relates that Joyce saw (i.e. read) Buffy’s SAT scores.  Here, we can think of the orifices of the head; we can also think of the Brain as an extraordinary organ.  Channels possibly involved with the eyes would include Stomach (no surprise), Gallbladder, Urinary Bladder, Qiao Mai, and Du Mai.

Then her head spun around. Obviously a wind symptom.  Wind tends to move from place to place.  Turning usually relates to ShaoYang (GB/ TW)) or ShaoYin (HT/KD).  Unfortunately, we don’t know whether this turning of the head was done with flexion or extension of the cervical vertebrae.  However, we know that the GB also has a relationship to the Brain, and the HT/KD also share a relationship to that Extraordinary Organ by virtue of being the seat of perception and the overseer of the marrow.  The Brain is called the Sea of Marrow.

Then her head exploded.

Obviously, the wind was too intense to be expelled properly.  Perhaps her sensory orifices were blocked (the clear yang of the Stomach must have been compromised from her poor diet, and failed to nourish the sensory organs properly).  Maybe she still lacked proper yin substances (such as blood) to anchor that wind and keep it from rising up.  Since her blood and body fluids are compromised, if we were to have treated her in time, we would have to have used a deeper substance in her body:  jing.

Jing is conducted by the Extraordinary Vessels and the Divergent Channels.  Since the last post used the Extraordinary Vessels, let’s use them again.  While previous posts have emphasised the psychological uses of these vessels, they can be used for more than just karmic and deep seated issues.  Joyce’s case provides an excellent opportunity to demonstrate when and how.

I would diagnose Joyce as having (extreme) head wind.

A Ming dynasty treatment related by Jeffrey Yuen in a lecture given on the Extraordinary Vessels is a perfect example of the approach which uses the Du Mai because of its relationship to the Brain and because of its ability to release wind to treat just this sort of case.

SI-3 would be used to open the Du Mai.  Then points which release wind are added:  BL-12, which is the point where the Du Mai forms a diamond on the upper back, Du-14 (which releases the upper back and activates the sinew vessels) and Du-16 are added.  Some people might also select GB-20 on either side of Du-16; or Du-20 can be used if heat seems to be present.  LI-4 is then used to release the wind to the exterior.  Alternately, one could treat the patient side-lying and use BL-1 to open the eyes to release excess wind, while also needling these other points.

A typical herbal formula for head wind is Chuan Xiong Cha Tiao San.  I might add Ju Hua to Joyce’s formula simply to focus on the eyes.

However, the formula Chai Ge Jie Ji Tang composed by Tao Hua around 1445 better fits our acupuncture treatment.  This formula releases the muscle layer to expel wind (cf Du-14) and also clears heat (cf Du-20).  The ingredients as listed in Bensky’s formulary are Chai Hu (tropism for the GB channel), Ge Gen (releases the muscle layer), Qiang Huo (goes to Du-14), Bai Zhi (always good for Joyce’s Yang Ming distress), Huang Qin (I might omit this from Joyce’s formula), Shi Gao (another Yang Ming medicinal), Jie Geng (floats the herbs outward and upward), Bai Shao (ostensibly to preserve the yin; I might use toasted Bai Shao to nourish blood), Gan Cao (to harmonise the formula), Sheng Jiang, Da Zao (the last two together regulate the ying and wei qi).

As for rashes, these never ended up manifesting in this episode.  However, rashes are often attributable to Wind-Heat and treated with insect-based medicinals like Chan Tui to promote their expression.  In prior eras, leprosy was formerly treated with Mu Lan, the bark of Magnolia Obovata, but I doubt this can be found in pharmacies outside China.

On the other hand, rashes due to epidemic pathogens would be treated a little differently, since these pathogens can quickly enter the blood level.  In terms of acupuncture, the Small Intestine channel is key.  We know that the SI helps draw heat away from the Heart physiologically; it should come as no surprise that the SI channel can also help draw heat away from the blood.  SI-3 and SI-8 would be one combination;  so would SI-3 and SI-11, especially when paired with BL-15 or BL-14.

As always, this post is for educational and entertainment purposes only.  If you think you could benefit from the traditions of 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!

Killed by Death (Buffy, Season 2)

What nightmares we experience in the grip of fever, and how little are these visions accounted in hospitals today.  In this episode, children are being preyed upon by a demon-ghost called “Child’s Death” or “Kindestod”, which sits on their chest and then sucks out their lives.

The Kindestod actually describes something treatable in Chinese Medicine.  While one can experience this sort of chest oppression during the grip of a fever, more commonly, it happens without any obvious febrile signs — though always when the person is asleep.  A sensation of a being sitting on one’s chest and drawing out one’s breath or preventing one from breathing are the cardinal signs.

Unfortunately, no one formula is designed to treat this.  However, the Divine Farmer’s Materia Medica does list three herbs which treat “oppressive ghost dreams.”  These herbs are Ling Yang Jiao, the horn of the Saiga antelope (now endangered); She Xiang, or musk from the musk deer (also endangered), and Mu Xiang, Saussurea root (a type of aster which grows in mountainous areas), the wild form of which is also endangered.

Interestingly, all these herbs go to the JueYin level.  Ling Yang Jiao regulates minister fire as it is conducted by the Gallbladder and Liver.  She Xiang invigorates blood and opens the orifices to regulate the shen and hun.  Mu Xiang, also aromatic, relaxes constraint and regulates the Liver.  If decocted together they would extinguish wind by releasing blood clumping under the heart, that is, between CV-17 and CV-14, the area called the mansion of blood.  (I would decoct the Ling Yang Jiao first, then add the Mu Xiang, and finally dissolve the musk in a little rice wine and mix with the strained decoction.)

The pathophysiology then is that blood has ceased to move outwards as wei qi comes inwards at night.  The blood may have become stuck due to heat (from trapped emotions, perhaps, or from a simple fever), or it may be turning to heat because it is stagnant, or it might become hot when wei qi tries to penetrate through it.  When the blood becomes hot and deficient, wind can be stirred up in the vessels.  This wind will harass the shen which is housed in the vessels, leading to disturbing dreams.  Since the pathogen sits on the mansion of blood, the feeling of someone or something sitting on one’s chest results.

To make the formula more specific, one could look at the overall quality of the blood.  Sometimes the blood is too dry, in which case fluids are needed.  But sometimes the blood becomes turbid from dampness, and then diuretics are needed.  In this latter case, the Kidneys are engaged to drain the water from the Heart — and minister fire is guided back into the Kidneys.

With this physiological aspect in mind, we can devise an analogous acupuncture treatment.

We know that the sinew vessels conduct wei qi during the day via the yang vessels.  At night, wei qi homes into the chest by following the yin sinew channels.  The arm yin meet at GB-22, while the leg yin vessels converge at Ren-3, at the border of the pubic hair.  From here, wei qi travels to Ren-17, where it enters the chest to support the pericardium (JueYin) in protecting the heart from nightmares during sleep.

The problem, however, lies not with this mechanism, but with the inability of wei qi to actually enter the chest once it arrives there.  So we must turn to looking at the mansion of blood.

Blood is sealed by the Heart, held by the Spleen and stored by the Liver.  It originates at HT-1, moves to SP-21 (or, in some traditions, GB-22) the Great Luo of the Spleen, and then is stored at LV-13.  If the blood remains stagnant in these areas, it will eventually sink to the lower warmer — the region of CV-3 and CV-4.  In cases where the slowness of blood is due to Heart insufficiency, Western medicine prescribes diuretics — engaging the Kidneys to drain water from around the Heart.

First, we could bloodlet SP-21 to clear the clumped blood, adding HT-1 and SP-10 as more distal point to ensure that blood moves through the mansion of blood.  Then we can needle both GB-22 and CV-3 to work on sinew vessels and add both LV-13 and CV-17 to guide wei qi through the JueYin level.  We can retain the needles with a little more depth to tonify the lower warmer and prevent any remaining clumped blood from descending to the lower warmer.

This treatment might also be used as an adjunct for other Heart related conditions.  I would be interested in knowing if it has any efficacy for sleep apnea.

As always, this post is for theoretical discussion only.  If you feel Chinese medicine may help dispel your oppressive ghost dreams, please see a qualified practitioner.

Happy slayage!

What’s My Line, Parts One and Two (Buffy, Season 2)

It always used to baffle me in school when the Liver was targeted as the source of all emotions.  At least any emotion which could in any way be linked with Anger — frustration, rage, irritation, annoyance.  Even when these emotions could be manifestations of heat harassing the Heart, heat in the blood, be rooted in fear, or grief, or guilt — treat the Liver, we seemed to be told.  Especially LV-3, unless you really wanted to calm things down, in which case you would be advised to choose LV-2.

I hated having these points used on me, and they always seemed counterproductive to curing me from my ills of frustration at what I perceived as a superficial evaluation of various situations.

Unfortunately, in a closed system like the 5 phases, with a little massaging, any ailment can be pegged down to any phase; certainly, if one phase is out of balance, it has the capacity to affect all others.  This is one reason why I prefer to focus on physiology and invoke the full set of channel systems, especially in these theoretical treatment plans.

Anger comes in many forms, and between the two episodes which comprise “What’s My Line” we have several examples, to examine, each of which will get its own short summary, diagnosis and treatment.

We first see Giles snapping at Xander’s constant wisecracking.  I’ve worked in an office with someone who has a continual shtick, and frankly, I can related to Giles.  Sometimes one needs space in order to think — and while the Liver rules boundaries, Giles’ explosion of frustration at Xander cannot be termed a pathological reaction.  It was quite appropriate, especially seeing that Giles immediately apologised (and Xander shut up).

An inability to focus and concentrate can be attributed to the Spleen not gathering, or not housing intent.  (In school we would then be led to the conclusion that the Liver was obviously attacking the Spleen, causing it to be disrupted.)  The Spleen also stores the ying, and I wonder if one could postulate that the intent resides in the ying?   Its movement is upward, and it links with the gathering and concentrating forces of the Lung through their Tai Yin relationship.  Therefore, I would treat Giles with LU-5 and SP-10, the he-uniting points on the Tai Yin channel.  These points invigorate blood (and ultimately the marrow or brain), and treat issues whose origin is diet, that is, stimulation one takes in from the outside.  The herbal treatment would be Yu Ping Feng San, in which Huang Qi secures the exterior from distraction, Bai Zhu strengthens the Spleen’s intent, and to mollify those who still insist on LV involvement, I’d switch out the Fang Feng with Bo He or Sang Ye, to release the exterior and soothe the Liver.

Buffy has a very nice outburst against Oz, pinning him to the wall.  Good thing it wasn’t Cordelia; Buffy’s already made the impression of being high strung on her in Season One.  Oz diagnoses Buffy as merely “intense” — and I would say this is actually a case of Kidney excess, which is described in the Nei Jing as an excess of courage.  We could also see it as a hyperactivity of Kidney yang, such as we see in patients right before they come down with adrenal exhaustion.  Since we don’t want to disperse the Kidneys, as they tend to deficiency, we can choose instead to use a Sinew Vessel approach and release the exterior to vent some of the excess yang energy.  I would needle ah shi points along the Shao Yin channel, especially since our heroine is confronting the need to rotate quickly and effectively in defending against the assassins sent out against her (and this rotation is inward, martial, not outward, balletic — in which case we would use ShaoYang, which does bear a relationship to both the LV via GB and to KD yang via TW).  Treatment can end with KD-3 being needled, after KD-1 has been moxabust, in order to consolidate the yang in her kidneys.  Herbal treatment would be form the Tang Ye Jing Fang and consist of Zhu Ye, Fu Ling, and Mai Men Dong to cool the blood, calm the Heart, and mildly drain the Kidneys.

Cordelia and Xander get angry at one another and then get passionate with one another.  This is clearly Liver in all its variations — including its connection to the organs of generation.  This is physiology:  KD water giving birth to LV wood (no pun on Xander intended).  It need not be treated, since the two are being discreet and observing the proper social boundaries of a fictitious Confucian village in Southern California.

Kendra gets angry at Buffy for insulting her lack of imagination.  In some ways we can see this as Kidney water being insulted by Spleen earth — the self at war with society.  Or we can simply  assume the shedding of blood is inevitable in this sort of situation and treat it with a luo vessel protocol.  PC-6, SP-4 are first bled, since the cause of the anger is known (otherwise, LU-7 and LV-5 would have been chosen).  GB-37 is used since anger is the outward manifestation of the emotion associated with the Liver.  If I were using a sinew vessel approach to treat an acute emotion, I would have chosen the Tai Yang channel since the Bladder defends the Kidneys, or self.  I would not choose an herbal remedy for this, except perhaps Wu Wei Zi tea, just to calm the heart and bring things back to centre.

Drusilla is clearly, if dementedly, angry at Angel, still grieving the loss of her family to his predations before he sired her.  We’ve already diagnosed her as having Spleen weakness, but it has been at least a century since all this happened — during which time she accompanied Angelus and Darla across Europe.  So obviously, she has trouble letting go, and since this is something which was embodied in her around the time of her “birth”, I would be tempted to use an EV approach.  However, I think we could use the luo vessels of the Extraordinary Channels and combine an EV with a Luo vessel protocol.  Bleed CV-15 and Du-1, to release the emotions which were embodied in her “blueprint” for life.  One might consider bleeding KD-4 and TW-5 first, since we are working on the pre-natal, constitutional level, but I’m not sure this is necessary.  Lu-7, one of the best points to treat grief, also opens the Ren Mai, so why not throw that in as a needled point?  SI-3, an earth point on a fire channel might help bury some of the simmer emotions Drusilla still carries.  Herbs I would give Drusilla would be E Jiao )to stop the emotional hemorrhaging and resonate with the EV level) and Fu Xiao Mai.  This latter herb calms the shen and is also used in the Orthodox Church at memorials for the Dead, prepared into a dish called “kolyva” in Greek.  It thus serves a dual role, and would be appreciated by a nun of the Catholic Church, even one in Drusilla’s state.  I actually had a Greek patient who was mourning the death of her husband of several decades, and after the forty day memorial at which kolyva was served, the grieving became more peaceful.  Ever since I have associated Gan Mai Da Zao Tang with mourning unsettling the shen.

Finally, we also see Spike angry at his Grandsire Angel for insulting his manhood.  Spike apparently isn’t pleasing Drusilla the way Angel could, and Angel can feel her frustration.  Spike lashes out at Angel and nearly stakes him, but for the intervention of Drusilla.  Herbally, I would consider Si Ni Tang, to warm the ice-cold extremity giving Spike his problems, but while that may be the source of his issues, it doesn’t touch the emotional outburst we are considering.  The physiology in this case is one of fear giving rise to anger; the points I would use are along the sacrum, where the Bladder channel meets with the Gallbladder, or along the neck, where the same phenomenon occurs.  Usually, I think of the tingling at the base of the spine or on the back of the neck as fear (the emotion of the Kidneys as carried by the Bladder) trying to mobilise courage (the virtue of the Gallbladder).  Perhaps all Spike’s pent up jing is generating heat to arouse the more forceful aspects of the wood element.  In any event, I would also root this emotional outburst in the Kidneys.

So, to recap:  we have used sinew vessels, primary meridians, extraordinary vessels, and luo channels to address the various manifestations of anger.  We have discovered root causes in the Spleen not gathering, the Lungs not releasing, Kidney water being disturbed, and Liver acting outwards in a non-pathological manner.  We have not addressed heat in the blood whereby we could cool the heart via the small intestine, nor have we yet used the Channel divergences, but I’m sure a later episode in this series will present us with just such an opportunity.

Happy Slayage!

Inca Mummy Girl (Buffy, Season 2)

UC Sunnydale must have an absolutely astounding Anthropology department.  Anthropologists seem to be at the heart of so many events in Sunnydale, even if in the background.  This week, we can thank the museum ethnography division for bringing an Incan Mummy to the Hellmouth.  Sometimes, anthropologists just don’t seem to see the big picture — namely, the physical context into which they bring their information, the most obvious being what is in front of them.  In this case, the hellmouth…

Once again, though, the meticulously crafted exhibits provided by UC Sunnydale’s anthro graduate students were destroyed by a roving band of high schools students led by Buffy.  Pity.  If only those high school students had known a few simple techniques, they could have saved their classmates from frigid dessication at the lips of an Incan Mummy Princess.

That dry cold wind from the Andes seems to have followed our Incan Princess north to warmer southern California. It really does something to one’s skin, if it finds an entrance.  That entrance could be provided by the Liver (which governs the inside of the lips), and the cold seems to go right to the Kidneys.  Certainly Xander’s kidneys could no longer grasp LU qi after his remarkable “melding of two cultures” in a kiss.

Cold in the Kidneys is a frequently encountered pathology in Mongolia, which faces frigid Siberian cold fronts in the winter.  Cold in the kidneys could easily lead to susceptibility to exterior wind-cold, because yang qi is not warming the exterior.   Conversely, keeping one’s kidneys warm by stealing the ming men fire of young men could ward away the onslaught of wind cold.  So perhaps I have the pathology backwards:  Kidney fire escapes through the LV channel.

And to think a little moxa on Du-4 and Bl-23 could have solved Princess Amapata’s problems.  In fact, Mongolians use several varieties of herbs, not just Artemesia Annua, to make moxa.  Edelweiss comes to mind.  I’ll bet maca is used to warm the kidneys internally in South America.  I don’t know if it burns hot or not — the root is what is sold in North America — but if the Incans had a particular herb they used as kindling or as a firestarter, that would be the place to look.  Luckily Californians have ample access to moxa.

In this particular case, I would use a sinew vessel approach.  The sinew channels are effective for treating exterior conditions — like wind-cold.  In fact, the Tai Yang sinew vessel is the primary sinew vessel to treat these conditions, and moxa, rather than needling, would be applied.  Since the wind-cold seems to be chronic (it keeps reappearing on our Princess), I would also treat the yin pair of Tai Yang, which happens to include the Kidney sinew vessel.  Although the kidney sinew vessel does not reach the kidneys themselves, the sinew vessels can be seen as the externalisation of the primary meridians, which do reach those organs.  Thus the kidneys sinew channel should be addressed to protect the kidney organs.  The poor chaps who were kissed by the princess and fell asleep would also get a treatment on the jue yin channel, although I’m not sure they’d be able to indicate where all the ah shi points we’d moxa are.

The basic treatment protocol is to release Ming Men and Da Zhui.  This can be done either through massage, gua sha, cupping, or applying other manual therapy techniques.  I might be inclined to believe Amapata’s Du Mai is full of blockages, so I would burn thread moxa at each of the intervertebral spaces in addition.

Then ah shi points are located through the use of bodywork.  In wind cold conditions, these ah shi areas are treated with dispersive moxa — making big, fluffy cones and blowing on them while they burn down.  Theoretically, you should be able to blow them off the skin by the time they get too hot.  (I somehow don’t think that intense heat will be an issue in this case, however.)  Then, use a hot needle technique on the affected jing-well point.  I use thread moxa there as well.

I also needle the shu-stream point of the affected meridian, so that the external pathogen does not go deeper.  One could use moxa on the head of the needle here as well, for extra tonification.  Just remember to wear a dust mask so you don’t inhale too much moxa smoke during this treatment.

Since the Princess’ Du Mai seems obviously lacking in the warming power of yang, I would begin by burning moxa in a tonifying manner (using small cones and letting them burn down) on Du-4 and Du-14, and then proceed to do a series of sotai releases for the neck and low back.  This should also help ascertain the location of some ah-shi points.

Then I would massage the back and legs, and burn moxa on any ah shi points of the Arm and Leg Tai Yang, and the Leg and Arm Shao Yin channels.  Then I would add one thread of okyu to BL-67, SI-1, HT-9 and KD-1 (located on the medial side of the little toe, in this case).  This would be followed by warming needle to KD-3, among other points.  Then we wait to see if the wind-cold returns to our Incan Princess (or her momentary lovers).

As for Herbal medicine, Zhang Zhong Jing is the master of dealing with wind-cold conditions.  Ma Huang, Xi Xin, Fu Zi Tang sounds like a good formula.  So does Dang Gui Si Ni Tang, especially considering that the wind cold invasion seems to start at the extremities (at least for the Princess); this formula can be modified by adding Wu Zhu Yu, but I see nothing wrong with adding the two formulas together to create a double formula.  Fu zi scatters cold, acrid Xi Xin will return heat to ming men, and ma huang will disperse wind cold.  Dang Gui opens the channels, and the rest of the formula clearly removes impediments to the smooth flow of wei qi in the sinew vessels.  Treatment should be administered as necessary.  Keep an eye out to see if  herbs with moistening qualities — xing ren and zhi mu come to mind — need to be added.

The above discussion is for theoretical purposes only.  If you feel that Asian Medicine can help address your cold limbs or oncoming head-cold and aversion to cold drafts, please see a qualified practitioner.
Happy Slayage!

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