16:27 16:27

Understanding Gua Sha–The Art of Scraping

By |2019-09-24T13:36:23-06:00September 23rd, 2019|Categories: April's Blogs, Blogs, Chinese Medicine|Tags: , , , |0 Comments

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

What is Gua Sha?
Based on the theories of ‘counteraction,’ Gua sha or frictioning uses a smooth edged tool to scrape the skin intentionally bringing up a rash to release pathogens and pain.  There are beautiful tools of bone, jade or other precious materials  made especially for gua sha,  however  my pragmatic side favors the $2 porcelain Chinese soup spoon that I can get from World Market and that fits perfectly in my hand.

Hippocrates identified 4 types of frictioning and their specific healing benefits stating, “It has the power of loosening, binding, augment and diminishing.” Huh, what does that mean?

Soft frictioning–Uses light quick strokes to loosen the flesh. This technique may not bring up strong rash and clears quickly. It is used for those who are very weak or in areas that can’t handle great depth or where you don’t want a rash to show up such as the face. Yeah, really, a little gua sha can release TMJ and tight jaw muscles.  Yes, we can apply gua sha to the jaw.

Moderate frictioning–Uses medium pressure and frequency of strokes to increase the flesh. Used for overall pain and to fight off colds and flu.

Hard frictioning–Uses deeper quicker strokes to strengthen the flesh. Used for overall and chronic deep pain and to fight off colds and flu.

Prolonged–Uses longer, slowly to break up thick congestion or thin the flesh such as thick scar tissues.

What does gua sha treat?
All frictioning generates heat and releases exterior invasions or the 6 Evils. Many Asian cultures use Gua Sha extensively at the onset of a cold or are ‘coming down’ with something. Gua sha also release deep stagnation and pain.

Pain–anywhere–Doesn’t really matter […]

10:12 10:12

12 Common Immune Enhancing Herbs & Foods

By |2019-09-24T13:35:28-06:00September 17th, 2019|Categories: Blogs|Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , |Comments Off on 12 Common Immune Enhancing Herbs & Foods

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

As requested–a blog about a few common herbs that have antiviral, antibacterial and immune enhancing natures. Just in time before schools and the cold and flu seasons start.

A virus, cold or flu in the eyes of Chinese medicine is an exterior invasion. Something is attacking the body from outside. Like all exterior invasions, to treat it we need to identify the nature of the disharmony using the 6 Exterior Evils (Pathogens) wind, cold, heat, dampness, dry, and summer heat.  When it comes to colds and flu wind, cold, heat and dampness are the most common culprits. Read more about exterior and interior patterns here.

Having formulas like Ge Gen Wan and Gan Mao Ling and single herbs like propolis, goldenseal and echinaccea are on hand is a good idea.  No one wants to run to the store or herbalist when you are sick. However, none of these herbs are delightful to nosh and it  isn’t appropriate to ingest them frequently.

Before we get ill, we have an opportunity–the chance to implement preventative habits and build our immunity by regularly ingesting foods and herbs in their simplest form.   These foods fall into the “release the exterior” and bitter  and pungent (spicy)-and they are abundant.  Actually, I had a bit of challenge to choose just twelve.   Including some of these foods and herbs regularly in your diet can make a world of difference the next time Violet Virus comes to play.   Personally, I crack out the formulas or propolis when a vicious battle looms and I get in for Amma or acupuncture quick…I don’t like being sick…..

Cinnamon–Sweet, hot and pungent, astringent and drying. Cinnamon stimulates, restores […]

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 […]
13:19 13:19

Loving Your Lungs

By |2019-09-24T13:24:44-06:00August 30th, 2019|Categories: Blogs, Chinese Medicine, Common Conditions|Tags: , , , , , , , |0 Comments

Tyra Burgess, Dipl. ABT (NCCAOM)

Ughhhh, our air! This summer has been an interesting one as far as our lungs are concerned. With our record high temperatures, the valley being saturated in smoke from fires as close as the East end, and as far away as Lowman, our lungs have been hit hard.

“At the physical level, boundary, breath and renewal are expressed as the lungs, the skin and the colon. The Lung refers to the whole respiratory system and includes the nose and sinuses. Across the boundary of the lungs oxygen is taken in and carbon dioxide waste is excreted. Since most human energy is derived from air, the Lung is primarily responsible for physical vitality and is said to govern Qi in the body.” (http://www.meridianpress.net/articles/thelung-chinesemedicine.html)  
This summer here at Pulse, we have treated a large amount of what Chinese medicine terms Lung Wind, Lung Yin deficiency, and what Western medicine would call Pnuemonia, bronchitis, sinus infections, and Pertussis. Patients affected by the smoke, have snotty noses, itchy and burning tongues, strange hives, a dry barky cough that gets worse at night.  Our lungs are creating more mucus in our mouths and noses, to trap the pollution, before it enters the lungs and to move it out.
“The Lung’s paired Organ, the Colon, is concerned with release and elimination. The Lung and Colon together are related to immunity, the strength of the protective boundary. Pathogens most easily enter through the respiratory and digestive systems and the Lung and Colon are responsible for maintaining the integrity of these systems so that they are not penetrated by invaders. According to Chinese medicine, the body’s defensive energy […]
15:26 15:26

When Yang Collapses–Rebuilding The Fires

By |2019-09-24T13:27:33-06:00August 11th, 2019|Categories: April's Blogs, Blogs, Chinese Medicine, Common Conditions|Tags: , , , , , , , |0 Comments

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

Yang collapse–sound pretty severe, right? In Chinese medicine it is–and it’s often a long, slow and difficult hill to climb for recovery.  Why? Literally, you have burnt out the fire and transformative functions in the body.  Most importantly, clients who have reached deep Yang deficiency are notoriously bad about resting– which is essential to rebuilding Yang.

How deficiencies arise

You played too hard. You became severely ill. You didn’t eat or rest appropriately.  You were under too much stress.  Sometimes we can narrow it down and find one thing that may have caused the collapse but most often it’s a number things that combined leading to eventual collapse. There are many avenues in which the body takes impact of stress, illness and daily living, and when we are vital and healthy we bounce back. Overtime, however, we may continue to dwindle and signs of deficiency will show up.  It’s a progressive process that left unchecked will get worse and worse until something gives way.

The progression of deficiency in the body

Qi Deficiency–Qi deficiency is the starting place. Fortunately, Qi deficiency, though common, is very easy to recover from.  You’re a bit tired, worn out from the day, nothing that a good night’s sleep and some appropriate rest can’t fix.   There will be little change in the tongue, and the pulses will feel a little weak, but you will recover quickly.  Find out more about building Qi here.

Yin or Yang?–Left unchecked, Qi deficiency will progress, leading down a path of either Yin or Yang deficiency. Which path you follow depends on life circumstances, constitution, pre-existing weaknesses and other factors.  Truly, both Yin and Yang are going to […]

11:03 11:03

Windy Conditions

By |2019-09-24T13:33:32-06:00August 8th, 2019|Categories: April's Blogs, Blogs, Chinese Medicine, Common Conditions, Spring|Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , |0 Comments

April Crowell, Dipl. ABT. NCCAOM CI & CP, CHN

It’s a blustery day!

Each of the 5 Seasons in Chinese medicine has a climatic nature that it corresponds to.  Summer relates to Heat, Autumn to Dryness, Winter to Cold, Late Summer  (the transition of seasons) relates to Dampness, and Spring corresponds to Wind. These climates are simply part of the  nature of the season, and people may be more vulnerable to these climatic conditions, and each can manifest as a series of patterns in the body.  What I pay attention to, as Chinese medicine practitioner and Amma Therapist, is how these may manifest in the body.  Ah…here comes the Wind.   Whipping through the tops of the trees, windy patterns may arise in our bodies as colds, allergies, ticks, stiff necks and more.  In Chinese medicine, Wind corresponds to Spring season and the Liver and Gall Bladder channel, and most Springs are windy.  But Wind can invade in any season, and Wind often picks up again in the Autumn.

Wind can be an exterior or interior pattern

Exterior pathogens (Wind, Hot, Cold, Dry, Damp, Summer Heat ) invade our bodies either because the pathogen is excessively strong compared to normal Wei Qi (immunity), think of plagues and virulent viruses–OR–the body is too week to fend off the invasion.   This is the pattern that appears in people who seem to get sick at the drop of a hat.

Interior patterns are generated by disharmonies within the body.  Eating too many hot foods can damage the Yin (cooling) of the body and lead to heat.  Although there may be a bit of overlap, the treatment focus of interior vs exterior will be different.  Read more on exterior and interior […]

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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12:52 12:52

Bitter – The Flavor of The Fire Element

By |2019-07-05T11:47:15-06:00July 3rd, 2019|Categories: April's Blogs, Blogs, Chinese Medicine, Nutrition Articles|Tags: , , , , , |Comments Off on Bitter – The Flavor of The Fire Element

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

Whoever coined the phrase “bitter hearts” was right.  Bitter is the flavor that goes directly to the Heart.   Bitter. Even its name can make us cringe, and it’s certainly not the most popular of the 5 Flavors (sweet, sour, pungent, and salty) yet it serves a vital role in our health.   The flavor is a powerful mover and enters the Heart, Small Intestines, Triple Warmer and Pericardium–all the Fire organs.  When the Fire element is in-balance we are joyful and can act on life plans, we make meaningful relationships and set appropriate boundaries–engage!

Still frowning?  You don’t need a lot of bitter, so just play along for a bit.

Bitter flavors enter the Heart and other Fire Organs

Each of the 5 Elements has numerous correspondences including flavor, season, color, organs, sound and emotion.  Fire and the bitter flavor correspond with the season of Summer, which is unique in that it has four organ systems rather than two like the other elements.  The Heart (Yin), Small Intestines (Yang), Pericardium (Yin) and Triple Warmer (Yang) all belong to the Fire element-and they have a lot going on.  The Heart, as the emperor, sits on his throne and controls the circulation of blood and allows us our most intimate relationships. Heart needs to express its truest self to the world. Small Intestines constantly sorts the ‘pure from the impure’–what to digest and what not to digest–physically, emotionally and spiritually–who do we keep in our lives, who do we need to let go of? A lot of people can get stuck in the process of sorting.  Pericardium has similar properties to the Heart and the Triple Warmer […]

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 […]