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By Rainbow Natural Health Clinic, Nov 22 2016 12:46AM

Change of season soup is an herbal formula traditionally used in Asian medicine to help enhance the immune system during the changing of the seasons. Now is the time to warm and strengthen your immunity as the weather deepens from the fall chill into the winter cold. This formula is thought to improve resistance to colds and flu and help cope with stress (perfect for holiday season!)

The soup is best taken 2 weeks leading up to the change in season and may be taken throughout the winter season.


You will need equal parts

(roughly 60 grams or 2 oz each)

of the following herbs excluding the cinnamon.

Use as many cinnamon sticks as you like

(to taste), typically 1 medium or 2 small

sticks is plenty.


Fill a large stock pot with water.

Add the above herbs to the pot and put the lid on.

Bring to a boil and simmer for 4-6 hours.

Add water if the water level boils down.

Using a slotted spoon, remove the herbs from the pot

and allow the soup to cool.

This recipe makes about 4 litres of soup.

Delicious as a tea and sipped throughout the day,

or as a base for soups.

It makes an excellent base for chicken soup.

Enjoy your seasonal shift,

Dr. Cyn Kotarski

NOTE: If you are pregnant or have any medical conditions please consult with your doctor or herbalist before trying this recipe.

By Rainbow Natural Health Clinic, Oct 21 2016 09:52PM

Autumn and the Lungs

Autumn is a season marked by transformation and change. As we transition out of summer into shorter days the transformation can be felt in the crisp and cooling air and seen in the changing color of the leaves. The autumn season correlates to the Lung organ system in Chinese medicine. Our lungs are certainly affected by the change in climate as the season settles in. We begin seeing shorter days, colder temperatures, and an increase in wind and rain. This is a vulnerable time of the year for the lungs and is a season when many of us become susceptible to respiratory infections. All of a sudden we are raiding our cabinets for immune supporting vitamins and herbs. It is important as we move through the fall season into winter to pay heed to self-care by supporting our respiratory and digestive system, as well as our emotional well-being.

The Lungs and Grief

The emotion of the lung is grief and sadness. Have you ever experienced that feeling of melancholy on a crisp autumn day? The world seems in a state of change and decay atthis time of year. The autumn leaves are changing color and they eventually fall, hinting at the cold stillness of winter that is to come in just a few months time. Where there is loss, there is often grief, and this is an important dynamic to recognize this time of year. Looking back to nature we can see that the leaves don’t just fall: the trees let the leaves go. An important part of acknowledging and honoring the spirit of the autumn season is in doing the work of processing our own grief, finding a way to fully express theseemotions, and learning to let go of that which we are trying to hold on to and control. The more we hold on to our own grief, the more we prevent ourselves from being able tomove forward and receive new experiences. This kind of holding on can affect the healthof our lungs and eventually lead to a deficiency, which may lead to issues such as weakness of voice, recurrent respiratory issues, overwhelming feelings of sadness, and even depression.


How can we care for ourselves during this time of the year? We are transitioning out of summer, the most Yang time of the year. It is a time of external energy full of warmth, daylight, and activity. We are moving into winter, the most Yin and cold time of the year, a period of internal stillness and introspection. The guiding principle is to support oneself, both physically and emotionally, during this time of transition and to follow nature’s lead inwardly. Two of the key words for me are gentleness and preservation.

1. Gentle exercise: This is a time to begin limiting extremes. We want to preserve our own resources and promote healthy circulation, and as the energy of the season moves inwards our ability to repair and mend after intense bouts of exercise slows down. Gentle exercises such as jogging, yoga, and tai ji quan are great practices for this time of year.

2. Support the lungs and respiratory system: Having a daily deep breathing exercise is an excellent way to support the health and strength of our lungs.

3. Supporting digestion and nourishment: As the world becomes colder and damper here in the Pacific NW we want to support our body’s ability to properly digest food and nourish our body. Cooked and warm foods are easier for our bodies to process than are cold and raw foods. Try to include nourishing foods of the season such as pumpkin and sweet potato, radish, lamb, beef, apple, pear, persimmon, and oolong tea. Soups, stews, and bone stock are excellent choices for nourishing ourselves throughout the colder months. Be cautious of too much spicy and pungent food, which are very mobilizing and can be depleting to our energy.

4. Protect the exterior: As the wind picks up and carries the brisk chill in the air it is important to protect the exposed areas of our upper body, most importantly the neck. In Chinese medicine, the lungs hold a direct relationship with the exterior of the body, and it is important to protect them from the colder elements. Don’t be afraid to spend time outside on those beautiful autumn days, just be sure to bring a hat and scarf!

5. Emotional nourishment: We want to nourish and preserve our spirit and emotional well-being this time of year. This can mean different things for different people. Reaching out to friends, daily meditation and deep breathing, spending time out in nature are a few examples of what this looks like for me. What is important here is to make time to listen to your own needs and pay attention to your own self-care.

Lastly, remember these are just a few guidelines. There are no absolutes and it is important for you to listen to your own body and learn what works and feels best for you as an individual.

How can acupuncture and herbs help?

Acupuncture is a medicine that works with the natural resources within the body to promote a healing response. When your body is fighting off a pathogen, that can mean supporting the body’s innate ability to expunge it. When you are feeling emotionally stuck in grief that can mean assisting the body and spirit in processing those certain emotions that may inhibit the ability to let go and move forward. The body always wants to help repair and correct imbalances, but sometimes it gets stuck along the way and needs some assistance. If we don’t address problems at the early stage, then this is where we run the risk of seeing acute conditions turn into stubborn long-term problems. Think about that cold you had that settled into your chest and became a cough that just never seemed to want to go away. This is a time where acupuncture and herbs can be very helpful in restoring balance in the body and facilitating the process of healing. Of course,it is best to address these issues early on before they become chronic and stubborn, but itis never too late for us to seek care for ourselves. Acupuncture can be helpful in bringing balance back to the body, bolstering the immune system, calming the nervous system,and lifting the spirits. Consider making an appointment today to support yourself as we transition through the changing seasons!

Ryan is available for appointments Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday and Friday. To book your appointment, click here.

By Rainbow Natural Health Clinic, Oct 16 2015 10:19PM

The following are my go-to, prerequisites for feeling good. When things get busy, it’s easy to forget or forego our self care routines but consider these top 5 your bare minimum for self care!

1. Drink Water. Approximately 1/3 of your body weight in ounces of water (or non-diuretic herbal tea) daily. Remember to add an additional 8 ounces for each vice you partake in: caffeine, sugar, alcohol, bodywork and exercise. Being in a dehydrated state and trying to feel good is like trying to swim in sand.

2. Food. You have to eat. It’s good for you and it tastes good. Why not do yourself a favor and make it work for you? No one diet fits every person, but most will benefit from the following essentials: Start your day with approximately 10 grams of protein within an hour of waking, when your cortisol is at its highest. Next, eat 3 cups of veggies a day. You can do it, get them in!

3. Exercise. Let’s be honest: do you move your body everyday?? Whatever form it takes, get yourself moving!! It can be as simple as walking in nature, practicing yoga, or breath movement. Try to get in an hour a day.

4. Sleep. Your body needs its rest! Two full REM cycles a night means honoring your internal clock’s signal to quiet down, darken your space and go to bed between 9 and 11 nightly. (If you wake throughout the night don’t forget a small amount of protein before bed!)

5. Nurture. Yep! This list would be incomplete without mentioning love, the verb. Self love is the heart of health and wellness. So what nurtures you? Is it time with loved ones? A hot soak? Meditation? Before you head to sleep at night count the ways you’ve nurtured yourself (or received nurturing from others) and if you can’t think of any- meditate on some. A little gratitude can go a long way in changing your attitude.

If you’re not meeting your top 5 bare minimums it might be time to get started and as always- check with your doctor before starting any new regimens.

Yours truly,

Cynthia L. Kotarski, ND

* The above are general guidelines and not individual medical recommendations.

By Rainbow Natural Health Clinic, Aug 1 2015 12:10AM


Every second Tuesday of the month Rainbow will be hosting a casual meet-up for health care practitioners, wellness workers, and local entrepreuners.

We will be providing tea and atmosphere for you to meet other wellness-worker allies. Rainbow Natural Remedies is a long standing herb and wellness store on 15th Ave E. in Capitol Hill, Seattle and has a tendency to attract wellness workers from all around. We are a very casual and down to earth bunch so please consider this your cordial invitation!

You are welcome to bring any business cards you have, or information about events or happenings, or just bring yourself!

This is a great opportunity to network, promote your own business or talents, search for other local practitioners to expand your referral base or just meet more amazing wellness warriors!

Feel free to contact me at the email below to RSVP or if you have any questions.

I'm looking forward to meeting you.

Until our next 2nd Tuesday,

Cynthia L. Kotarski, ND

Rainbow Natural Health Clinic



By Rainbow Natural Health Clinic, Jul 17 2015 10:52PM

By Buffy Aakaash

Four hundred years ago, the world was burgeoning with life. No matter where you were, except maybe in a prison cell with no windows, you could not forget that the natural world was always close at hand. We could not hide from a heatwave behind air conditioning. We could not escape bitter cold in heated, insulated structures. What we call "progress" has increased our comfort levels, but, as we are realizing, there is a price to this modern way of life. We can literally see some of the costs, like climate change; but other things are not so obvious, deeper things that profoundly impact our psyche with the illusion that Nature is something we observe, out there, rather than a part of ourselves.

Recently, I had the privilege of spending some time with trees that first broke the ground over three hundred years ago, before the beginning of the industrial revolution. Timing around a big old tree is very different. As I sat with one, I imagined I must be to him like a hummingbird is to me, even in my stillness. Wings beating. Here one second. Gone the next. A time-lapse video. We don't think of any living thing as having such a life span. This confounds us so much we prefer to think of these wise old elders as objects rather than living beings. How else can we attack them with chainsaws without any gratitude for what it provides us? Without any recognition of the brilliance and wisdom that comes from such a long life?

Some time after the advent of farming, we learned how to assign human value to Nature's bounty. We became bored with simple survival. Then, throughout the Industrial Revolution we perfected "extraction of resources" to increase our comforts. When did this mostly human trait of striving for comfort become synonymous with separation from the natural world? In the old days, when we were cold, we gathered around a fire. It's hard to sit around a fire, with the cold and dark at our backs, and not feel gratitude for something we may not quite understand. Then our propensity for more comfort had us question the other parts of the natural world, like the wind and rain. How can we be sheltered and still have the warmth of the fire? We move the fire inside. But the fire is smoky. It challenges our sense of safety. So we create an invisible fire called electricity...

What we lost, as we sat nestled behind the boards that came from those ancient beings, and the stones from the earth, in the heat and light of invisible fire, was our sense of the essence of life that provides all of these things, our experience of the cycles of the natural world, the giving and receiving, the flow of death to life and round and round. This separation could be considered the root of all of our modern problems. Our unconsolable fear of death. Greed: Our sense of entitlement to, in some cases, an insane share of natural resources, hundreds of times more than a person needs, at the expense of others. Our separation allows us to ravage that which is "other" -- the giant trees, the waters, the metals, oil, and gases in the earth, not to mention, when we get bored of destroying the earth, there's always each other.

Consequences from our separation from the cycles -- of the seasons, of the plants and animals, of our giving and receiving with Nature -- are many. We forget the ancient traditions of funerary rites and honoring the spirits of the dead. We disregard as "silly" traditional rites of passage for young people that were practiced for millennia. This creates confusion among the living and the dead, a void filled with substance abuse, crime, and teen suicide. What is depression but a sense of stuckness? A sense of "things are bad and they are never going to get better." When you closely experience the cycles of the seasons over a period of consecutive years, you know in the middle of a cold winter that one day spring will come, the ice will melt. Hope is a natural reaction to a world out of balance. Reestablishing connection with Nature makes hope unnecessary because there is a "knowing" that everything is in alignment, the essence of Joy.

I know this all sounds retro, and perhaps like some long lost "hippie" philosophy. But consider for a moment: If we saw once again the Earth as our Mother, and all its beings as our brothers and sisters, the weather and elemental forces as our grandmothers and grandfathers, as, really a part of ourself, inseparable, we could no longer do harm, because we would know that we were only harming ourselves.

We need to engage in re-membering our true interdependent selves. So get out and feel the cold in the winter. Experience the heat of a sultry summer day. Jump in a river. Natural healing practices, such as plant spirit medicine, acupuncture, ayurveda, and massage can help us reestablish our connection with the natural world. From this place of balance and inspiration we can sit and listen to a 300 year old tree, and then bring this medicine out with us into the world to face the despair and longing we feel from separation every day.

This post was reproduced from Buffy Aakaash, Spirit Medicine with permission from the author.

Buffy Aakaash




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