08:34 08:34

Summer–The Season Of The Fire Element

By |2018-07-05T12:46:47+00:00June 22nd, 2018|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 […]

16:48 16:48

Merry Mints–The Healing Energetics of Mint

By |2018-06-11T12:26:58+00:00June 10th, 2018|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 […]

08:55 08:55

Spring Cleaning–From Inside to Outside

By |2018-04-12T09:24:40+00:00April 9th, 2018|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 […]

11:45 11:45

Simple Steps for Dealing with Allergies

By |2018-04-09T10:09:25+00:00April 8th, 2018|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 […]

09:05 09:05

Nourishing With Stinging Nettles

By |2018-05-31T13:42:07+00:00April 7th, 2018|Categories: Blogs, Common Conditions, Holistic Living, Nutrition Articles, The Seasons|Tags: , , , , , , , , |0 Comments

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

Stinging nettles sting.

My first encounter with nettles was not pleasant, and at the time, I didn’t know enough to look for lamb’s quarter or dock to soothe the nettle’s sharp bite.  Instead, I chose to run screaming back to camp seeking my mother’s aid to treat the flaming red blisters on my legs.

Despite my first meeting with nettles, I have grown to love their amazing nutritional and healing properties.  They are one of the few herbs that I can recommend to almost anyone–young, old, weak, strong, nursing mothers and athletes.  To date, I  haven’t come up with someone that can’t benefit from nettles.

A bit of nettle history

Nettles have a long history of medicinal use–dating back to the bronze age. Native Americans used them to stop bleeding after child birth, Victorian women used nettle tinctures to thicken their hair.  Soups were used to build strength and stamina–the list is long as you will see below.

Nettles grow wild across Europe, America and parts of Canada. Many people harvest them fresh, but for ease (possibly I’m just lazy) I get my nettles dried and in bulk unless a local grower has some fresh available.   I use them regularly for my family, self and my clients.  All parts of the nettle plant have medicinal properties earning them a place of honor in my herbal cupboard.

Western uses and nutritional profile

Long inhale and go….  Asthma, chronic cough, any lung disorder, hives, shingles, eczema, diabetes, uterine bleeding, chronic nose bleeds, allergies, gout, heart failure, spasms urinary and kidney stones, urinary tract infections,  strengthen hair, heal wounds, replenishing after surgery, fluid retention, rheumatism, arthritis,  reduce edema and bloating, build teeth and bones, balance mood swings, […]

09:00 09:00

Spring’s Energetics–The Season Of The Wood Element

By |2018-05-31T13:42:07+00:00March 6th, 2018|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 […]

15:34 15:34

Staying Warm

By |2018-05-15T16:42:44+00:00January 30th, 2018|Categories: Blogs, Holistic Living, The Seasons|Tags: , , , , , |Comments Off on Staying Warm

Life is a heat process.

From a strictly chemical view point, almost all reactions in the body are heat driven, from the formation of proteins and ATP (the fuel that runs the body), to the ability of your lungs to absorb oxygen from the air.  Without heat, many processes slow, or outright stop.

From a psycho-spiritual perspective, when we think of various descriptors that have been applied to people throughout time we see reflections of the understanding of how important heat is.  Sayings like ‘they’re cold hearted’, or calling someone ‘frigid’, or referring to an action as ‘cold’ are all examples of acknowledging a lack of warmth in someone.  Conversely, we describe people as ‘warm’ to express their caring nature, or an action giving you the ‘warm fuzzies’, or even ‘hot’ to express sexual desire.  When our ability to generate warmth declines, we can begin to feel separated from those around us.  Our ability to acknowledge the warmth of another can diminish proportionally to our own diminishing warmth.

Physically, warmth is most prevalent in the digestive system, where a lack of heat will lead to a decrease in our ability to derive nourishment from our food and, because the body tends to store what it cannot use, an increase in body mass.  A lack of heat in the digestive system can lead to difficulty taking in new ideas and information.  Also, as heat is necessary to move the bowels, it can make it harder to let go, physically, mentally, or emotionally.

Ironically, because heat is generated by both the breakdown of food and the use of those nutrients by the muscles, our diet has a major influence on our overall temperature.

In Chinese Medicine, the primary organs of digestion are the […]

13:37 13:37

Baked Spaghetti Squash Parmigiana

By |2018-05-15T16:48:18+00:00September 20th, 2017|Categories: Blogs, Late Summer/Transition, Main Ingredients, Recipes, Seasonal Recipes, Sides and Salads, Vegan, Vegetables, Vegetarian|Tags: , |Comments Off on Baked Spaghetti Squash Parmigiana

A great way to use the season’s beautiful spaghetti squash. Spaghetti squash is also a great alternative if you can’t eat or need to avoid flour based pastas.

[…]

08:10 08:10

Grilled Ratatouille

By |2017-05-08T08:31:25+00:00May 8th, 2017|Categories: April's Blogs, Blogs, Gluten Free, Recipes, Summer, Summer Recipes, The Seasons, Vegetables, Vegetarian|Tags: , , , , |Comments Off on Grilled Ratatouille

Summer cooking at its best is easy, colorful and uncomplicated.  Ratatouille makes the most of the season’s vegetables like tomatoes, eggplants and peppers.  This grilled version can be prepared in two ways.  The vegetables are first grilled and you then dress them right at the table and serve them immediately or you finish marrying their flavors over the stove top.  Both are delish–it’s just a matter of choice.  I tend to prefer the first method, as it’s simpler and doesn’t heat up the kitchen.

Double this recipes or toss leftovers with cooked quinoa and a little extra dressing (if necessary) for a light, high protein dish. […]

11:22 11:22

Warm To The Core

By |2017-03-06T09:42:17+00:00December 20th, 2016|Categories: April's Blogs, Blogs, Chinese Medicine, Common Conditions, The Seasons, Winter|Tags: , , , , , , , , , |0 Comments

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

Baby, it’s cold outside.  Now that you have an ear worm to pester you for the day, let’s talk about keeping the core of the body warm.

The Asian cultures have a long tradition of dressing to protect the abdomen and the lower back and with good reason–the Kidneys.  Called the “Root of Life” in Chinese medicine, and their energies and organs are greatly protected in classical Asian medicine and martial arts.   In Japanese, the region is called the Hara, in Chinese it’s the Dan Tian. All Asian cultures hold the same concept–the vital energy of the body is centered in the space  located just behind the belly button to between the two kidneys.   If you’ve ever done martial arts, this where you move from.  It’s your core,  and the store house of energy and we want to keep it warm.

The Kidneys are the “Root of Life” and “Sealed Storage”

Let me see if I can boil down a 5 hour lecture into a couple of simple paragraphs.

All organs have a Yin and Yang aspect, however, these two aspects take on a different meaning with the Kidneys.  The Kidneys are the foundation for all Yin and Yang for all organs. One of the first channels to develop as a baby grows, Kidney Yin is the foundation or “root” for the Yin and the Yang organs alike, making it the basis for Fire and Water in the body.  If the Kidney energy is strong, the baby will grow strong and have vitality.  Kidney energy is required for all growth, maturation and reproduction– the bones, marrow, and spine;  and […]