top of page

An Herbal Exploration with Carrie Crimin

Carrie Crimin is a Pediatric Acupuncturist and Pediatric Nurse. She returns to the podcast to talk with Dr. Stafford talk about herbal medicine.

Learn everything you need to know about Carrie and Little Owl Medicine on her lovely website:

Topics discussed in this episode:

  • Defining herbal medicine

  • How to find high quality herbs from respectable sources

  • Regulation relating to herbal medicine

  • Customizing formulas based on patient needs and constitution

  • How to approach treatment for allergy season

  • Eating in season

  • Practical tips for the winter season

  • Xiao Chai Hu Tang

  • Only available through a practitioner, but you can learn about it HERE.

  • This LINK will connect to info about a tincture for kids.

Listen, read, watch! You can listen right here, or with a podcast app of your choice. You can also read the complete transcript below, or scroll to the bottom of this post for the video.

You can browse all previous episodes on Anchor and Youtube!



Dr. Stafford: Hi, Dr. Michelle Stafford here with World of Smiles and our podcast, Mixed Dentition. And today, my guest is Carrie Crimin and you've actually been on our podcast before. Thanks for coming in again.

Carrie Crimin: Thank you for having me back. It's so fun.

Dr. Stafford: And your company is Little Owl Medicine.

Carrie Crimin: Yes.

Dr. Stafford: And today, we specifically wanted to talk a little bit about herbal supplements and the like to talk about just promoting great health. So...

Carrie Crimin: Yes.

Dr. Stafford: I love it. So thanks for coming on again.

Carrie Crimin: Thank you.

Dr. Stafford: So, I'm sure you get a lot of questions every day about herbal medicines specifically and maybe just starting with kind of defining what it is.

Carrie Crimin: So, Chinese herbal medicine is... goes back thousands of years. So because that's all they had when this medicine was developed, they had herbs. There was a lot of trial and error and great masters put together great formulas. So there's a lot of information that we can, as an acupuncturist and herbal medicine practitioner, you can look back on and draw from. So, the formulas are very... they're highly nuanced, but the best formulas are fairly simple in nature. And then you can add and subtract herbs depending on what you want to do.

Dr. Stafford: Yeah, I find it fascinating, especially since... herbal medicine has been around a lot longer than we think of as Western medications and pharmaceuticals. And, a lot of the pharmaceutical drugs are actually based on specific herbs.

Carrie Crimin: Yes. It's fascinating.

Dr. Stafford: Changed and then marketed and [inaudible 00:01:50] price driven up.

Carrie Crimin: Right. Exactly. Way up.

Dr. Stafford: Yeah, definitely. So, explain more how herbal medicine... I think some people have concerns about how they're regulated, or where the formulas come from. How to find a good company that makes them.

Carrie Crimin: Right. There is a lot of concern about that. I get questions all the time from, especially from parents, which is very... I appreciate and I want my parents understanding that there are differences and asking these questions because first of all, they want to be well informed. And second of all, they trust me to provide this herbal medication or herbal formulas for their most precious cargo.

Carrie Crimin: And so, it's important to me that they can ask those questions and that they get straightforward answers. So the biggest question I get, or the most common I guess is how do you know that they are regulated and how do you know what are in the herbs and what's coming through from China? It isn't this dark, scary place that everyone kind of thinks of when they're like, "Oh, herbs coming from China." It's not quite like that. They are regulated there... there's companies there that gather the herbs, test the herbs. Many of them are U.S. facilities that are there and they do testing. There's third party testing that's done and then they come to the United States. They are checked by the FDA when they come through, they have to be checked when they come through customs and so they are checked.

Carrie Crimin: And then again, the companies, the well-reputable companies have facilities here that they will then test batch each and every batch that comes through. They'll test the single herbs, they'll test granule formulas, they'll test the tinctures to make sure, first of all, that they don't have any contaminants in them. And secondly, there'll be checking them to make sure that the herbs that they say are actually in those formulas are in those formulas. So they'll test for each herb in like a pediatric tincture. So, sometimes the tinctures are made and they're made with a glycerin base and that granule formula that they make into a tincture.

Carrie Crimin: And so they're able to check and see if each herb that is said that's in that formula is actually in that tincture.

Dr. Stafford: Oh, that's really great. So sounds like they're highly regulated.

Carrie Crimin: They are regulated. And, the other part is the companies that are high quality... some people get concerned like, "Well, this formula, this granule, or this capsule, didn't look like what I got last time," which is okay actually because herbs that are grown and then they're using the entire plant each... the color is going to be different. So, it's okay if they do have some color gradiation in them.

Dr. Stafford: Right. That's really interesting.

Carrie Crimin: Yeah.

Dr. Stafford: Yeah. Well, let's dive into some specific formulas and herbal medicine.

Carrie Crimin: Let's.

Dr. Stafford: What would you say the most common herbal formula is that you use for your patient families?

Carrie Crimin: Well, it depends on the time of year, generally.

Dr. Stafford: Okay. So now we're hitting like flu season. I can imagine.

Carrie Crimin: Yes, we're in cold-virus-flu season. Everyone already has colds. They have congestion, coughs, headaches. So, there are several formulas that this... they treat different... well, there's many formulas based on what is presenting. So, do you have a barky cough? Do you have a wet cough? Do you have a dry, reactive cough? There's a different formula for each one of those coughs. Also dependent on what kind of person you are constitutionally.

Carrie Crimin: So, right now, I'm doing a lot of, okay, are you on day one of being sick, or are you on day three? And then, from there, I use a base formula for each of those and then go from there.

Dr. Stafford: Oh, interesting.

Carrie Crimin: I also... so I'm doing a lot of tinctures for little ones and then there's also a tea that I like that's a combo of two formulas for kind of chest congestion and also like middle digestive kind of stuckness, congestion. I don't know how else to say it in Western terms. And that one is... it helps just kick out that last part of the cough and sniffly nose, headache, those kinds of things.

Dr. Stafford: It sounds like I'm going to need to come see you with my little one.

Carrie Crimin: Yes. Come on in.

Dr. Stafford: He missed a couple days of school earlier this week and then I found out half of the kindergarten class was out sick.

Carrie Crimin: Oh my gosh. Half?

Dr. Stafford: And I was like, "Well, that makes sense why my kid was also sick."

Carrie Crimin: Yes, that does. And they're so sad and they're so miserable.

Dr. Stafford: They're so sad and miserable, I know.

Carrie Crimin: But it's nice to have things in your arsenal at home to be able to just say, "Oh, here you go. Let's do this."

Dr. Stafford: Let's do this. So yeah, and see how it helps and another thing that's really interesting about herbal formulas as we were talking about, it's not like you give it to me and it's exactly what you need and then it's perfect. And, there you go. You're done. One and done.

Carrie Crimin: Right. Not like that. It is not like that at all.

Dr. Stafford: It doesn't work like that.

Carrie Crimin: No, it doesn't. And you want it to, but I think that just like when you go to the doctor for either like high blood pressure, or high cholesterol, or even if you have diabetes and you take insulin, it's not like, well, here's your dose and I'll see you in a year.

Carrie Crimin: It doesn't... a lot of times those medications need to be adjusted and they need to be switched if they're not the right thing. I know a lot of people who can't tolerate certain kind of statens, or a certain blood pressure medication effects them in a different way than an other one. So, and then the insulin, adjusting insulin is like a dance. And so, it is challenging. So I feel like when you're adjusting an herbal formula, it is kind of like a dance where you're taking so many things into consideration and you're looking at the child, or the adult and what kind of constitution they have.

Carrie Crimin: So like, what's the underlying thing that's going on with them, or even not even going on with them, just what are they like. And then, what formula fits that pattern. And then what herbs will also work to support any big issue that's going on. So sometimes there's a lot of adjusting to make sure like, "Oh well, we need a little bit more of this herb in this formula," or, "We need to change the base formula and add in different herbs," or, "We're going to scrap the whole thing and we're going to use... we're going to clear something else out first before this other formula can help."

Carrie Crimin: So, for example... if somebody is really... so if I have a little one who's just really kind of struggling to, like they're just really susceptible to getting every cold and flu that comes along. There's something to that. So I have to take that into account when I'm figuring out the formula. But, on top of that, they have this cold that they can't get rid of. So, which do you start with first? You don't want to... so a lot of the herbs will kind of nourish, but you don't want to nourish the cough, so you have to get rid of the cough before you can deal with the foundation. So there's a lot of thought that goes into trying to figure that out and what's going to work best.

Dr. Stafford: Right. Kind of a... I like that you called it a dance. Kind of that trial and error is that that dance of figuring it out and yeah, that's great. Kind of figuring out. And what I appreciate about herbal medicine is what you said just a minute ago about looking at the person's constitution.

Carrie Crimin: Yes.

Dr. Stafford: And that's really fascinating to me.

Carrie Crimin: It's nice to be able to do that instead of just being like, "Well, we're going to just try this medication," without taking into account what that person is like, or what they, on a foundational level, they struggle with every... just in general. And it's not even like a conscious struggle that people have. I think it's just more like, "This is how I am. This is who I am."

Dr. Stafford: That's great information. So, what other kind of struggles, if you will, do parents have at certain times a year, or...

Carrie Crimin: Well, the flu.

Dr. Stafford: Right.

Carrie Crimin: Flu's coming up and I think some people already have it. I heard in Colorado, I think it was, they shut down an entire system for the week.

Dr. Stafford: School system?

Carrie Crimin: Mm-hmm (affirmative).

Dr. Stafford: Oh my goodness.

Carrie Crimin: Yes. I know. I don't know too much about it, but I heard through the grapevine that a system, a school system got shut down, not in Oregon.

Dr. Stafford: Oh dear.

Carrie Crimin: So there's some things for the flu. There's definitely some formulas that are nice to have at home just on hand. There's... then we'll have, once we get kind of through that, then we're looking at allergy season.

Dr. Stafford: Right. Springtime brings the allergies.

Carrie Crimin: And the big thing with allergy season is you have to start the season before that. I mean, you don't have to, but it is the most beneficial to start the season before treating for the allergies coming up. So if you have like March, April, May allergies, then we should be looking at things in January.

Dr. Stafford: Got it.

Carrie Crimin: To kind of say, "Okay, let's start here," to make sure that it's almost like climbing a hill. So we want to start like back here, get as much momentum we can to make sure that we can get to the top of that hill when springtime allergies really would be hitting.

Dr. Stafford: Nice. That's so interesting to start so early to kind of prepare your body to take it on.

Carrie Crimin: Yes. And then there's the food thing that can help. Like there's the seasonal, like really truly eating with the seasons helps to support that.

Dr. Stafford: Oh, that's really interesting. Let's talk more about that.

Carrie Crimin: Okay.

Dr. Stafford: So for instance, I love that idea, trying to eat what's in season and what's available because... tell you, you see strawberries at the supermarket currently in November and you're like, "Strawberries, you don't belong here."

Carrie Crimin: No, they don't belong there. It's so tempting and it's so hard, but they don't, or like cantaloupe.

Dr. Stafford: No.

Carrie Crimin: No.

Dr. Stafford: It is not cantaloupe season.

Carrie Crimin: Tomatoes. They just... and the thing is they don't really taste good. But I think that some of us, we're so far removed from what the food actually should taste like because either you're just... you just don't even know what that experience is, so...

Dr. Stafford: So what are some of the fresh vegetables currently now that we're, it's like November, December, in the close to winter months?

Carrie Crimin: Right. Mm-hmm (affirmative). So a lot of those things are the root vegetables. Greens are still coming, but it's more the hearty greens like kale, things that are kind of like, they become sweeter as if you have like cold spells. They will be actually sweeter after a cold snap.

Dr. Stafford: Butternut squash?

Carrie Crimin: Butternut squash, acorn squash, delicata, potatoes, carrots, daikon radishes. What else? It is nice... there's several CSAs, which are the community supported agriculture shares that you can get. They do have a year round... they have a winter option, so you can also get the things that they are growing throughout the season.

Dr. Stafford: Because I would agree, I feel kind of far removed because you go to the supermarket and everything's still shiny and pretty in there.

Carrie Crimin: It is and it's really... I mean, it's hard. You're buying cucumbers in January.

Dr. Stafford: And you're like, "Oh, is this cucumber... "

Carrie Crimin: Yes.

Dr. Stafford: It's just going to be like...

Carrie Crimin: And I mean, you have to be realistic. It's not... and... I don't know if I couldn't send my kids to school with apples or cucumbers. I don't have storage for everything at home. I think most people don't either. So, you have to be realistic, but kind of keeping that in the back of your mind. How am I eating seasonally and how can I choose this? Yeah, it's helpful.

Dr. Stafford: Yeah. I made some butternut squash soup the other day and I was like...

Carrie Crimin: Now's the time for soups and stews.

Dr. Stafford: I know. It feels very warming.

Carrie Crimin: Uh-huh (affirmative). I know, we just started... I'm making soup every Sunday. We're going to do soup Sundays.

Dr. Stafford: I do that too. I make soup on Sundays as well. I love that.

Carrie Crimin: It's so easy.

Dr. Stafford: It's so easy.

Carrie Crimin: I was like, "Oh, I love this. Dinner is ready. And I did it in the morning."

Dr. Stafford: I don't know about you. I make a huge pot of super stew and then it carries me through for the first part of the week. So, bring it for lunch every day.

Carrie Crimin: Yes. I love that.

Dr. Stafford: Yeah, me too. So Carrie, before I let you go, can you... so now, I mean, we've kind of been talking about the cold and flu season. Can you make just a couple simple recommendations for our listening audience to kind of help support those little sick kids, or their immune systems?

Carrie Crimin: Yes. So, one thing to remember is kind of the ones that you hear about the most, don't forget your elderberry syrup is very... it is very helpful to both help fight the cold and make sure that it lasts longer... less... It does not last longer. So the cold has a shorter amount of time and that you don't get another one right on top of it. Vitamin D is really good for this time of year. Warming foods are really nice. In the morning, my kids love it if I make them some tea, or even just hot water with a little bit of honey mixed into it, especially if they have a sore throat, or a cough. And sometimes I'll add a little bit of ginger, a little bit of lemon-

Dr. Stafford: And do you get fresh ginger and like put a little bit in there?

Carrie Crimin: I do use fresh ginger. Yes. And that's an herb that's used a lot in Chinese medicine is fresh ginger. Mint is also really nice. Just to kind of-

Dr. Stafford: And what does ginger do exactly, or a few benefits?

Carrie Crimin: Right. Ginger is great because it's really warming. Sometimes... and that's why I like just a little bit of ginger because sometimes it can be too hot. So, if you think about ginger and how it tastes in your mouth, it can be hot.

Dr. Stafford: It can be.

Carrie Crimin: So you just want a little bit, especially for the little ones, you just want a tiny little bit. And it just helps to warm them up and open everything. And then the mint is really lifting and opening. So you also don't want too much of it because you don't want someone kind of really feeling really heady with it. So, and it's very cooling. So there's two different... like the ginger's warming. The mint is cooling. So it just depends on what you feel like your child needs at that time.

Carrie Crimin: The formula that I am loving the most right now. The one thing that I do say, so I have a parent that will call and say, "My one child is sick, my next one is on day one. What should I do?" So, there is a great formula that's made... it's a tincture, or a liquid, I guess and it's called clear and release. I love that one for one day, day one and a half. And then after that I always recommend... it's called Xiao Chai Hu Tang.

Dr. Stafford: Well, for those listening, we will have you spell it and we will reference it.

Carrie Crimin: Sounds good.

Dr. Stafford: Is this a tea? I'm not even going to try and say it.

Carrie Crimin: It's actually... that's okay. It is both... you can get it in capsules, you can get it in... It's safe for little ones. So it comes in a tincture and then it also comes in a tea. The tea is great and they all work. They all work really well-

Dr. Stafford: And say the name again?

Carrie Crimin: Xiao Chai Hu Tang.

Dr. Stafford: Xiao Chai Hu Tang.

Carrie Crimin: Yes.

Dr. Stafford: All right.

Carrie Crimin: Yes.

Dr. Stafford: I like that name.

Carrie Crimin: The other thing is that there's... you have options with the herbal, like the tinctures and the liquids. Some of them are glycerin base and some of them are a mix of a glycerin and alcohol base. So, a lot of times that's really important for parents to know. And so, we talk about that. That's something I always mention when I'm talking to parents about what formula we're using and what to do and how to use it.

Dr. Stafford: Yeah, that's wonderful. And, warming foods, like we were talking about.

Carrie Crimin: Yes.

Dr. Stafford: Just making that pot of soup and warming up and using lots of-

Carrie Crimin: Yes, keep warm and dry and...

Dr. Stafford: Fresh vegetables. It's so easy to do. I feel like I should post some recipes as we're talking about that.

Carrie Crimin: Oh, good idea.

Dr. Stafford: I make it up as I go. I cook mostly vegan. So-

Carrie Crimin: Okay.

Dr. Stafford: I can put like optional throw some meat in there.

Carrie Crimin: Yes.

Dr. Stafford: If you want.

Carrie Crimin: Mm-hmm (affirmative). It is and the other thing I love to add that adds just like that... especially if I'm not making a meat-based soup, or there's no meat in it. I'm like, "What is that flavor?" Either the mushroom powders, or this will make it not vegan, but some fish sauce always adds that little bit... something else.

Dr. Stafford: Oh, I found some vegan fake fish sauce too. It's like substitute. I don't know what it's called, but I was pleased.

Dr. Stafford: Yeah, that's fun. Maybe, for those listening out there, I'll try and post some recipes as well that works for my kids.

Dr. Stafford: So if you want more information, we can find Carrie at Little Owl Medicine. And, what is your website?

Carrie Crimin: My website is

Dr. Stafford: Perfect. Easy to find. Well, thank you for coming on the show today.

Carrie Crimin: Thank you for having me.

Dr. Stafford: This has been great talking about herbal medicine.

Carrie Crimin: It's been so fun. I love herbs.

Dr. Stafford: Formulas. I love it.

Carrie Crimin: There's so many options.

Dr. Stafford: So many options. Well, for more information, find Carrie. And for all of those of you listening and watching out there, thank you for being part of our audience and remember, fill the world with smiles.



Recent Posts

See All


bottom of page