11:22 11:22

Warm To The Core

By |2018-11-08T12:31:36+00:00November 7th, 2018|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 […]

09:33 09:33

Elderberry Syrup and Tea for Colds and Flu

By |2018-11-08T12:52:28+00:00November 2nd, 2018|Categories: Blogs, Nutrition Articles|Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , |Comments Off on Elderberry Syrup and Tea for Colds and Flu

As Autumn creeps in I stock my cupboards with a few items to prevent and treat colds and flu. Gan Mao Ling, Kwan Loong oil, vitamin C, Immustim or Wellness Formula, to name a few, but one of my favorites is simple and reliable elderberry tea and syrup.

All parts of the elder plant have a long history in folk medicine. The flower is used to promote sweating and resolve phlegm from exterior pathogens. The inner bark and root are used as strong emetics and to relieve stubborn constipation. The leaves and berries can be made into poultices with vinegar or honey to relieve damp heat in the skin such as poison ivy.

Elderberry syrup is one of the first things that I reach for when someone is starting to fight a cold or flu. From a Chinese medicine perspective there are two major reasons that we get sick: either our system is weak and susceptible to exterior invasion (Lung qi and wei qi deficiency) or the pathogen is exceptionally strong relative to us (think of plagues). Elderberry helps to strengthen any Lung deficiency condition, giving your immune system a powerful boost. It is antiviral and anti-infective, perfect for fighting off those pesky viruses. The berry also has expectorant, diaphoretic and diuretic properties to help move fluids, the bowels and relieve phlegm. It even helps treat food poisoning. Elderberry is high in calcium, vitamins A, C and B6 and iron—and, best of all, it’s tasty and kids don’t usually mind it.

So how do I use it?
I start to use elderberry tea (often mixed with other teas like berry or nettles) several times a week at the start of school or weather transitions. The syrup is handy for […]

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 […]

08:15 08:15

13 Tips to Simplify Your Meals

By |2018-05-21T12:38:35+00:00May 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 […]

13:06 13:06

Cherries! Nature’s Blood Cleanser

By |2018-05-21T13:11:13+00:00April 22nd, 2018|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 |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 […]

13:10 13:10

12 Tips For Handling Heartburn And Indigestion

By |2017-09-22T08:56:06+00:00September 20th, 2017|Categories: April's Blogs, Blogs, Chinese Medicine, Common Conditions, Holistic Living, Nutrition Articles|Tags: , , , , , , , , |0 Comments

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

Digestive disturbances affect nearly everyone at some point in their life and it’s estimated that 40% of Americans will suffer from heartburn at least once each month–ouch.  In fact, the proton pump inhibitor drugs (think Nexium and Prevacid) are the third largest class of drugs sold in America each year.    The following recommendations are beneficial for any level of digestive vibrancy, whether you have excellent digestion and want to make the most of a healthy system or you are treating chronic or debilitating digestive issues.  Honestly, I know of no condition that will not improve or benefit from the simple habits listed below.

Chew your food —Let’s start at the beginning.  Besides the teeth mechanically breaking down the food, salivary amylase is added in the mouth to break down starches.  This enzyme is not found in the stomach–it has to be added into the food in the mouth.  Although the stomach churns to help break food down, it doesn’t have teeth and large chunks of food overly burden the stomach causing gas, bloating, and acid re-flux.   The physical act of chew also triggers mass peristalsis in the colon–meaning you will move your bowels more regularly.  Ideally, you should chew your food about 30 times, so put your fork down between each bite and savor your food.

Have a seat–“Li proceeds Qi.” Literally, where your intention goes your Qi (energy & manifestation)  will follow.  If your intention is to eat a meal, assist your body by sitting down, relaxing and enjoying your food.  If your attention is rushed or focused elsewhere Qi won’t readily flow into your digestive organs to help properly transform the food. Voila–you now have […]