08:27 08:27

Autumn’s Energetics–The Season Of The Metal Element

By |2019-09-24T13:21:20-06:00September 10th, 2019|Categories: April's Blogs, Chinese Medicine, Holistic Living, Nutrition Articles|Tags: , , , , , |Comments Off on Autumn’s Energetics–The Season Of The Metal Element

April Crowell Dipl. ABT (NCCAOM), AOBTA CI & CP, CHN

Autumn’s arrival shifts the Qi that had been expanding outward (Yang) in the Summer to begin to shift inward (Yin).  We glide through Late Summer at the equinox and then slide into Autumn–the season of Yin within Yang.  Of the 5 Elements, Autumn is the season that corresponds to the Metal element.

Autumn is the time of harvest and a time to start storing to prepare for Winter’s cold. After shedding their leaves or ripened fruits and seeds, plants die back or their energy retreats to their roots. Appropriately, Autumn’s abundant food is perfectly suited to help our body’s Qi move inward. This allows our bodies to have greater energy to fend off common ailments, a chance to replenish and provide the opportunity to embrace the season’s delights.  During this season, I encourage clients to use foods and tonic herbs like ginseng and rhodiola (if they aren’t treating disharmonies where tonics are contraindicated) to help strengthen the body for the upcoming colder months.

Autumn is a wonderful time to clear out old habits that we no longer need–letting go of that which harms us.  It’s a good to time to consolidate and begin storing energy.  This might include resting more, or adjusting your exercise–take long walks, practice T’ai Chi or Qigong and include meditation into your routine.  

Like all of the 5 Elements, each season has numerous correspondences that Chinese medicine practitioners use to identify patterns in clients, both physical and mental, emotion.  Let’s look at a few major correspondence of Autumn.

Autumn Correspondences

Season Autumn
Element Metal
Color White and metallic
Sound Sighing
Climate Dry
State of growth Decline
Odor Rotten
Flavor Pungent
Yin organ & time Lungs: 3-5am
Yang organ & time Colon: 5-7am
Body tissue Skin
Sense organ Nose
Emotion Grief and longing
Soul Corporal
Vice Obsession with physical appearance
Virtue  Inspiration and […]
16:48 16:48

Merry Mints–The Healing Energetics of Mint

By |2019-07-05T11:52:05-06:00July 5th, 2019|Categories: Blogs, Common Conditions, Holistic Living, Nutrition Articles, The Seasons|Tags: , , , , , , |Comments Off on Merry Mints–The Healing Energetics of Mint

Basil, apple, sage and spearmint;

Oregano, catnip, pineapple and peppermint;

To many dishes their flavor they’ve lent;

Yet why is one not called merriment?

Grandma June grew a peppermint bush around the water spigot off her front deck.  Content in its moist, rich soil and shaded in the afternoon, the plant grew to be a monster.  There was no way to reach in and turn on the hose without stirring up the mint’s refreshing fragrance or the bees if the plant was in bloom.  Each year she harvested the mint to make teas or jelly to serve with lamb or give as gifts.

In a burst of sentimentality, I planted a clump of mint next the water tap outside my back door.  It’s an easy grab to add fresh mint to salads and soups or to make refreshing teas, hair rinses and other delights.  And there’s an added bonus–ants hate peppermint.  So if you have a few pests in the spring consider a planting of mint, especially spearmint, lavender and penny royal along your home.

A little mint history

The aromatic presence of the mint family have be pleasing our senses for centuries.  Mints (mentha) are a part of the lamiaceae or labiatae family–which isn’t a small family.    It includes many of our favorite culinary herbs like basil, rosemary, oregano, sage and penny royal.   Honestly, there is a bit of debate in the horticulture world as to what clearly defines the mint family, but most recognize that there at least 25 species of mints and countless hybrids including the fun stuff like pineapple, ginger and chocolate mint.

We can track mint’s usage all the way back to Pliny the Elder in the […]

11:58 11:58

Oh, Honey! Bees’ Wonderful Gifts

By |2019-07-05T11:54:08-06:00July 4th, 2019|Categories: April's Blogs, Blogs, Chinese Medicine, Holistic Living|Tags: , , , , |0 Comments

April Crowell, Dipl. ABT (NCCAOM), AOBTA CI, CHN

There are certain pursuits which, if not wholly poetic and true, do at least suggest a nobler and finer relation to nature than we know. The keeping of bees, for instance.  

Henry David Thoreau

I grew up on my grandparent’s farm outside of Caldwell, on Chicken Dinner Road, among vegetable gardens, berry patches, orchards, flower gardens….and bees. Grandpa Herman held many passions but at the top of the list were roses, walnuts and bees.

Grandpa’s bee hives would come to life every spring as soon as the first violets appeared. The apricot and crab apple trees buzzed with life and the melodious hum meant fresh honey. In a few weeks we would be blessed with plates of oozing honeycomb. The honey, gently flavored with whatever was blooming, ranged in color from golds to nearly black was fragrant and delicious. Mmmmm.

A Little History

The collection of honey dates back to 7000 b.c.e., and it shows up in nearly every form of medicine. However, honey fell out of popular use due to the availability and ease of processed white refined sugar. Let’s face it, refined sugar is cheaper and easier to obtain. You don’t have to risk stings or wait for the right season, you don’t have to manage a hive and its queen. Honey also adds a distinct flavor to whatever it goes into, another put-off to spoiled taste buds, but I digress.

Like all real food, bee products hold medicinal properties and energetics–the post metabolic phenomenon of what it does in the body (heat, cool, etc.)– once it is ingested. Here’s a brief picture of our bees’ bounty.

local be [...]
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11:45 11:45

Simple Steps for Dealing with Allergies

By |2019-07-05T11:56:16-06:00July 3rd, 2019|Categories: Blogs, Chinese Medicine, Common Conditions, Holistic Living, Nutrition Articles, The Seasons|Tags: , , , , , , , , , , |0 Comments

April Crowell, Dipl. ABT (NCCAOM), AOBTA CI & CP, CHN

Red, itchy eyes, sore throat, sinus congestion, running nose, puffy face, congested ears, swollen lips, headaches. Although it may be true that certain seasons have a propensity to bombard us with excess pollen, or air particulates from farming, and pollution there isn’t really one season for allergies. Some people only suffer during a spring and/or autumn season while others may suffer all year long. Some people are allergic to only one thing, while others suffer from a multitude or combination of allergens. Whatever the individual pattern, it is estimated that nearly 50 million Americans suffer from allergies. It’s estimated that over-the-counter sales of allergies medicines should reach $14.7 billion dollars in 2015–that’s a lot of sneezing and muzzy headedness.

I used to believe that seasonal allergies were coming earlier every year.  Though this may be partly true, what I now see in my practice is that Boise’s air quality is declining enough that clients are suffering more and often longer with allergies–crud.

Allergies in the eyes of western medicine

Allergic rhinitis, or hay fever, is an example of compromised immunity. Basically, the immune system has a hyper response to a strong pathogen (pollen, an abundance of cat dander, etc) and this causes a rapid physiological changes resulting in itchy eyes and throat, sinus congestion, sneezing, asthma and even diarrhea.  Exposure to an allergen would cause a massive release of IgE antibodies which attach to white blood cells known as mast cells. These cells are mostly located in the lungs and upper respiratory tract, the lining of the stomach and the skin. When these cells are stimulated, they release a number of chemicals including histamine which produce the allergic symptoms.
An […]

10:21 10:21

Surviving Summer Heat

By |2019-07-05T11:53:00-06:00July 2nd, 2019|Categories: April's Blogs, Blogs, Chinese Medicine, Holistic Living, Nutrition Articles|Tags: , , , , , , |0 Comments

April Crowell, Dipl. ABT (NCCAOM), AOBTA CI & CP, CHN

We love our Summers and the sunshine here in Boise.  It’s time to be in the garden, rivers and mountains.  The temperature can swing nearly 40 degrees from sun up to sundown, and then there is that spell in July and August where it hangs out above 100 and never seems to cool off—ack, melt.  Occasionally, we spend too much time in the sun, or the season changes so rapidly that we have problems adapting. You may experience a little ‘Summer Heat’ invasion.

Each of the 5 Seasons in Chinese medicine has a climatic nature.  Spring relates to Wind, Autumn to Dryness, Winter to Cold, Late Summer  (the transition of seasons) relates to Dampness, and Summer corresponds to Heat. These climates are simply part of the  nature of the season and Chinese medicine practitioners observe these climatic influences and their behaviors in the body as they can become a source of disease or disharmony.  For example, Wind can be involved in many forms of headaches, allergies and palsies.  Any of these climatic conditions can pop up in any season due to rapid weather changes, change in location, etc.  Heat is most likely to affect us during the Summer and the Summer organs are most vulnerable to Heat, and the 6th Pernicious Influence–Summer Heat.

 Summer Heat is an exterior pathogen

Exterior pathogens or the 6 Pernicious Influences or 6 Evils are hot, cold, wind, damp, dry and summer heat.  They are acute in nature and come on quickly. They invade our bodies either because the pathogen is excessively strong compared to normal Wei Qi (immunity), like in the cases of plagues,  or our Wei Qi is too weak […]

08:34 08:34

Summer–The Season Of The Fire Element

By |2019-07-05T11:48:57-06:00July 2nd, 2019|Categories: April's Blogs, Chinese Medicine, Holistic Living, Summer, The Seasons|Tags: , , , , |Comments Off on Summer–The Season Of The Fire Element

April Crowell, Dipl. ABT (NCCAOM), AOBTA CI & CN

Summer, the season of the Fire Element, has arrived!  The days are long and the bright sunshine invites us outdoors to work in our gardens or play in the sun.  It’s a season of activity and joy.  All seasons represent the possibility for change in our lives.  We can fight their energetic nature or we can use the season’s blessings for our own growth and benefit…and summer has so much to offer.

Why the seasons matter

In Asian medicine’s 5 Element Theory each season (Spring, Summer, Late Summer, Autumn and Winter) possess their own energetic dynamics and movement of Qi (energy). They ebb and flow from one to another.  Understanding the energetic nature of each  season helps us to adapt so we move gracefully from phase to another.  For example– knowing that Spring’s climate is wind, helps those that are susceptible to wind conditions such as epilepsy, headaches, anger, and allergies to take appropriate precautions to not be as easily affected by the condition.  Winter, encourages us to rest and be introspective, to consider our deepest selves–whereas, Summer invites us to expand  and be active.  We need not hunker down or fear each season, rather having  awareness can help us become flexible and adaptive, we can embrace and benefit from the virtue and blessings each season rather than fight them.

Summer Correspondences

Season Summer
Element Fire
Color Red
Sound Laughter–including laughter at inappropriate times
Climate Heat
State of growth Maximum growth
Odor Scorched or burnt
Flavor Bitter
Yin organ & time Heart: 11am-1pm & Pericardium: 7-9 pm
Yang organ & time Small Intestines: 1-3pm & Triple Warmer: 9-11 pm
Body tissue Blood vessels and the Blood
Sense organ Tongue
Emotion Joy or lack of Joy
Virtue Ability to create quality relationships and interactions with others, propriety
Vice Inappropriate relationships and boundaries, victimization

Let’s look a […]

13:06 13:06

Cherries! Nature’s Blood Cleanser

By |2019-07-05T11:49:39-06:00July 1st, 2019|Categories: April's Blogs, Blogs, Chinese Medicine, Holistic Living, Nutrition Articles|Tags: , , , , , |Comments Off on Cherries! Nature’s Blood Cleanser

April Crowell, Dipl. ABT (NCCAOM), AOBTA CI & CP, CHN

It’s time for cherries!  If you’ve ever picked cherries, likely you have an appreciation for how much labor goes into caring for and harvesting the delicate, tart orbs that are available fresh for only a few weeks. Depending on the variety, a single cherry tree can produce about 30 lbs of fruit each year.   A single acre of land can be planted with several hundred trees. That’s a lot of little fruit, and although there are mechanical harvesters, most cherries are still picked by hand making them one of the most labor intensive fruits with the one of the shortest harvest season. But they are well worth it.

A little cherry history

Cherries are a drupe, meaning they have a pit in their center. Like other drupes, including apricots, nectarines, and peaches, they are a member of the rose family and are native to the western hemisphere of Europe and Asia. Written records of cherry farming date back to 72 BC Anatolia (modern day Turkey) and they found their way to America with the pilgrims.   Today, only about 15 of some 500 plus varieties are grown for the American consumer.  However, heirloom varieties are on the rise thanks to the natural food movements throughout the world and our nation.

Western nutritional highlights of cherries

Cherries range from a deep black/red to a golden yellow, and they are categorized as sweet or sour, even in western nutritional terms.  Raw cherries provide dietary fiber, vitamin C, vitamin A and minerals. Don’t look to cherries if you are seeking proteins, fats and or complex carbohydrates. That’s not their job–cherries clear and cleanse.

The healing energetics […]

08:55 08:55

Spring Cleaning–From Inside to Outside

By |2019-03-21T12:53:35-06:00March 20th, 2019|Categories: Blogs, Holistic Living, The Seasons|Tags: , , , , , |Comments Off on Spring Cleaning–From Inside to Outside

There’s a buzzing of excitement in the air and in our bodies.  It’s spring, the season of the wood element and the energy is up and outward in powerful surges. It’s a time of change and growth. Our bodies want to move more, we have more energy within us and we want to ‘Get Up and Go!’

Our bodies feel seasonal changes, when we are in harmony with these shifts we can delight in the blessings of the season–being able to plan, see options, grow and be flexible–our energy is sparked and we have come to life.

In disharmony, we resist the changes and encounter difficulties. During the spring this can result in agitation, angst, restlessness, feelings of being stuck in a situation and the inability to see any solutions. From a Chinese medicine perspective we see a lot of Liver Yang Rising (energy moving up too quickly) causing high pitched ringing in the ears, headaches, bursts of anger and angst.  Wind is also a culprit in the spring and can appear as tearing of the eyes, twitches, allergies, Bell’s palsy, tick and even strokes. If you suffer from some of these patterns the best thing to do is act now to prevent flare-ups.

Here are a few tips.

Clear out the past

The more debris left on the ground (our minds or body) it takes longer for the crocus and other bulbs to push through. Nutritionally this is a good time to do a gentle cleansing or fasting, with raw vegetables and fruit juices. Check with your practitioner to see if this is an option for you. Fasting isn’t for everyone, and can do more harm than good if you aren’t prepared well.

Include a few raw foods

It’s the season for greens, sprouts, salads and fruits, while decreasing […]

09:00 09:00

Spring’s Energetics–The Season Of The Wood Element

By |2019-03-01T11:03:57-06:00March 1st, 2019|Categories: April's Blogs, Blogs, Chinese Medicine, Common Conditions, Holistic Living, Spring, The Seasons|Tags: , , , , , , , , |0 Comments

April Crowell, Dipl. ABT (NCCAOM), AOBTA CI & CP, CHN

Welcome to Spring!

When does Spring really begin? For most Western cultures, we correlate the start of Spring with the Spring equinox, around March 20-21st.  But all of us know that Spring has been well underway by the time the equinox pops up. If you look at the seasonal correspondences in Chinese medicine’s Yin/Yang theory, the Winter solstice marks the depth of Winter, yet as soon as we reach maximum Yin (the shortest day of the year), Yang and light start to return–literally, Spring is on its way.  A quick look at the lunar calendar can also help us understand why Spring seems to come early or late from one year to the next.  The Chinese New Year heralds the start of the Spring festivals and planting seasons.  This holiday falls on the second new moon after the Winter solstice, sometime between the end of January and the middle of February.

Our bodies feel seasonal changes, and when we are in harmony with these shifts we can delight in the blessings of the season.  However, the transition from Winter to Spring is perhaps, the most tumultuous transition. It’s a duel between the quiet and restive inward energy of Winter into the strong, upward ascending of Yang energy–and its energy can be big.  The season of the Wood element, Spring is a time of tremendous energy, and excitement in the world and in our bodies.   It’s a time of change and growth.  Our bodies want to move more, we have more energy within us and we want to get up and go!  In disharmony, we resist the changes and encounter difficulties.  During the Spring this can […]

08:15 08:15

13 Tips to Simplify Your Meals

By |2018-05-21T12:38:35-06:00May 20th, 2018|Categories: April's Blogs, Blogs, Holistic Living, Nutrition Articles|Tags: , , , , , , |Comments Off on 13 Tips to Simplify Your Meals

April Crowell, Dipl. ABT (NCCAOM), AOBTA CI & CP, CHN

“What’s for dinner?”

It’s a common question that can turn into an amusing (or annoying) game.  When you have a busy schedule it can be a daunting task to figure out how to eat well–let alone eat.  I’ll tell you a little secret–it’s all about habits.

Our culture has put emphasis on economy and convenience, at the cost of  our connection to self nourishment, and I’m not talking about restorative yoga.   Think about it.  We spend less time planning and preparing meals than any other culture in the world, and we have increasing disease and health costs that are directly related to dietary habits.  Diabetes, high cholesterol, high blood pressure, GERD (okay, there is a virus involved sometimes here, but I assure you, if you slow down how you eat, it improves considerably), kidney stones, ulcers, gout, heart disease–you get the picture.  We all know nutrition is important, what and how we eat is the basis for our energy, ability to health and overall health.

Wonderful.  So how do we start improving how we nourish ourselves?

Simple-create new habits that make better nourishment and eating habits a priority.

You will be hungry today, so why let that surprise you?  Why not plan for it instead? Your health and soul will thank you.   Let’s play with a few ideas.

1. Create time–If your current habits don’t allow you the time to menu plan, shop, prep and cook–budget some time.  Put it in your day planner or on your ‘to do’ list.  If you skip meals, put the time for them in your planner as well.  It usually takes me about 15 minutes to make a menu for the week and […]