08:55 08:55

Spring Cleaning–From Inside to Outside

By | 2018-04-12T09:24:40+00:00 April 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+00:00 April 8th, 2018|Categories: Blogs, Chinese Medicine, Common Conditions, Holistic Living, Nutrition Articles, The Seasons|Tags: , , , , , , , , , , |Comments Off on Simple Steps for Dealing with Allergies

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 | 2018-04-09T10:18:24+00:00 April 7th, 2018|Categories: Blogs, Common Conditions, Holistic Living, Nutrition Articles, The Seasons|Tags: , , , , , , , , |Comments Off on Nourishing With Stinging Nettles

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 | 2018-04-09T10:15:25+00:00 March 6th, 2018|Categories: April's Blogs, Blogs, Chinese Medicine, Common Conditions, Holistic Living, Spring, The Seasons|Tags: , , , , , , , , |Comments Off on Spring’s Energetics–The Season Of The Wood Element

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+00:00 January 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+00:00 September 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.

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08:10 08:10

Grilled Ratatouille

By | 2017-05-08T08:31:25+00:00 May 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+00:00 December 20th, 2016|Categories: April's Blogs, Blogs, Chinese Medicine, Common Conditions, The Seasons, Winter|Tags: , , , , , , , , , |Comments Off on Warm To The Core

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 […]

08:48 08:48

Soothing Sunburns and Sun-Tired Skin

By | 2016-12-29T12:24:13+00:00 April 15th, 2016|Categories: Blogs, Holistic Living, The Seasons|Tags: , , , |Comments Off on Soothing Sunburns and Sun-Tired Skin

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

The sun is out!

Idaho is blessed with long, sunny days, wonderful mountains, rivers, forests and deserts.  A playground for those who love to be outside.  However, with Idaho’s dry climate and high elevation, it’s easy to get  scorched.  Getting sun is good, it’s the best source of vitamin D–so get out there, just start in small steps and be aware that you can still burn in little time even on overcast days.

Having a fair-skinned, freckled daughter who loves to be outside has helped me become even more aware of the sun’s power and how quickly it can damage us.  Here are a few tips.

First–Protect

Use a quality sunscreen

The EWG (Enviromental Working Group) puts together a fabulous database covering most sunscreens.  Easy way to find out what products are toxin free and environmentally friendly or if it’s safer to just leave the stuff off your skin.

Get oily

Many natural oils possess SPF.  Red raspberry seed oil has a natural SPF of 28-48. Carrot seed oil has a natural SPF of 38-40, etc. You can find a list here.  Personally, I haven’t experimented enough with these oils, or know of others who have, to feel fully comfortable spending a + 100° day in it–yet.  But, I see no reason to not believe that these natural oils do supply SPF…time for some gentle testing to see what happens.

Stay hydrated

Drink plenty of water.  Room temperature or cool water is easier for the system to absorb.  I know–ice is nice–but it makes the body work hard (creating heat) to warm it enough to absorb it. You will quench your thirst […]

15:47 15:47

Chilled Sour Cherry Soup

By | 2016-12-29T12:24:13+00:00 April 7th, 2016|Categories: April's Blogs, Dairy Free, Desserts & Sweets, Diabetes Friendly, Gluten Free, Recipes, Seasonal Recipes, Soups and Stew, Spring, Spring Recipes|Tags: , , , |Comments Off on Chilled Sour Cherry Soup

Europeans have a long used fruits in soups.  It’s more than an elegant dessert or appetizer, it’s a fantastic way to use up summer’s abundance or ‘less than perfect’ fruit.  This soup is wonderful with fresh or frozen cherries.  You can use dried cherries in a pinch, but reduce the sugar and increase your simmering time until the cherries are soft–enjoy!

April

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