Butter is a superfood heroūüíę

I seriously can’t believe how many people still think butter is bad for you!!! They say it is fattening or unhealthy. Butter is SO delicious and nutritious it should be in everyone’s fridge for good health.


My favourite butter and the best I believe available in Melbourne is made by the biodynamic cows of Paris Creek dairy. My granny says it tastes just like what butter used to taste like 70 years ago.

Why is butter so good for you?

It contains vitamin A, Lauric acid, lecithin – note lecithin metabolises cholesterol. Grass-fed butter in moderation will not increase your cholesterol levels, margarine and vegetable oils will.

It also contains minerals, Vitamin D, E, K, Activator X and the good fats it contains are great for your hormones.

Butter is a glorious superfood! It even has anti-cancer agents, strengthens bones and prevents tooth decay. It can balance blood sugar and the fats it contains are also essential to children’s brain and nervous system development. It has properties of anti-stiffness factor which prevent calcification of the joints, arteries and pineal gland.

Who can benefit from butter?

Everyone! Babies over 4 months, children, teenagers, women and men, pregnant and breastfeeding women, it’s also great for fertility and balancing hormones. I recommend 1-3 tablespoons per day. It is probably the only dairy food that lactose intolerant people can efficiently digest.

So I urge you to try some real, organic, grass-fed butter and enjoy and feel the goodness!

@Ilana Sowter Acupuncture Melbourne, Ivanhoe, northern suburbs

Sex, connection and fertility

With so many struggling with fertility we can delve back to the roots and origins of this. How did something as connecting, loving and fun like having sex with your partner ever get so difficult, especially when trying to conceive?


Firstly there is the relationship to consider, if there are unresolved issues or emotional challenges this will affect how you connect and down the track your sex life.

Stress- yes we are all very work, achievement and left-brain focussed these days. Being so preoccupied on what we must to do be the best in work can affect how much time and energy you have for yourself, your libido and partner.

There can be mismatched libidos, this is very common where one person has a high libido and the other a low. Low libido can be due to substance abuse, stress, nutritional deficiencies and of course how we grew up learning and thinking about sex. Some people may shy away from sex because they have been taught that is bad or shameful.

Having a strong, healthy libido is a sign of good health and fertility. This is where acupuncture and Chinese medicine come in. They are excellent at tonifying the yang or warming energy which provides the kidney with ability to procreate. Often I use moxibustion to warm the yang, and cups to expel the cold with warming herbs such as Rou Gui- cinnamon bark.

If your fertility is affected by being able to have sex, look into how and why this might be, and what will be the best way possible to rectify it.

@Ilana Sowter Acupuncture Melbourne, Ivanhoe, northern suburbs

Keeping faith & staying positive on the fertility journey with acupuncture

A woman will often reach a point in her life where she knows she wants a baby. Men get this too. For a woman to embrace this natural maternal urge in this day and age it is rather complicated. Many women I treat in my acupuncture practice have underlying fears and self-doubts on their personal ability to procreate. This is even before finding out if they have any medical issues.

IVF and assisted reproductive techniques are common practice today, and this has projected the belief that everyone is having trouble trying to conceive.

We have to believe there is hope, light and possibility out there in all the darkness that surrounds us.


The main concern women have is that if they don’t conceive asap, their fertility will rapidly decline and their egg quality will be too poor. The truth is there is no scientific test that can accurately determine the quality of a woman’s eggs. There is the assumption that as a woman ages, her egg quality declines which affects the rate of a healthy embryo fertilising and continuing.

This doesn’t explain how some of the women you know are 40+ and seem to be popping out healthy babies without trouble up until 44 years of age.

I bring this to the table because I truly think that what we believe creates our future. If we think we are old at 34, and our fertility is rapidly declining, it will. If we think that it is impossible for our body to physically carry the baby, we may find that we are fearful when we become pregnant and miscarriage.

Of course it is essential to have a good GP, and investigate fertility further if there are troubles along the way, and seeking the expertise of a good gynaecologist or fertility specialist if need be however we need to trust and believe in the miracle that our body is.

Your body is amazing and it will respond to positive change in emotions, thoughts, beliefs and physical care.

If we hurt our body by feeding it junk food and telling it that it is worthless, then we may find it difficult to become pregnant. Sometimes there can be underlying problems that we have not dealt with, such as our mother telling us that children will ruin our lives, or physical ones like PCOS or endometriosis which can be related to not connecting or loving the divine feminine that we are.

When I support my patients on their fertility journey, I try my best to navigate all areas that may be preventing them from conceiving, moving blockages and changing aspects for the better.

Acupuncture is widely used and accepted for fertility support. The Chinese have been using Chinese herbs for hundreds of years for fertility and pregnancy.

There is nothing more satisfying than to travel this arduous journey from pre-conception to post-partum and meet that wonderful baby that is so very worth it all.

@Ilana Sowter Acupuncture Melbourne, Ivanhoe, Northern suburbs


Dairy: is it good or bad for you during pregnancy and fertility?

Health conscious people these days often avoid dairy products. Is dairy bad for you? Ideally the best dairy will be obtained from happy, grass-fed cows that is raw and unpasteurised. Legislation in Australia prevents the selling of raw dairy. However you can sometimes source select, raw European cheeses from specialist Melbourne delis, and let me tell you they are amazing!

Raw dairy is better for you because all the beneficial bacteria and vitamins are live and present thus it is much less likely to cause intolerance or phlegm in the body. Recently Made By Cow have released raw Jersey cow milk that has been cold-pressed to kill any pathogenic bacteria but retain all the goodies.


Is it safe to consume this cold-pressed raw milk during pregnancy, for fertility or even give to little kids? Yes indeed! In fact is provides essential fats and minerals for remineralising teeth according to Ramiel Nagel, author of Cure Tooth Decay.

Most importantly it tastes amazingly delicious and from a Chinese medicine perspective, a glass of this milk is best enjoyed on one of our scorching summer days in Melbourne.

Some dairy is good for you, especially in raw form and from happy, grass-fed cows.

@Ilana Sowter Acupuncture Melbourne, Ivanhoe

Beach benefits for fertility, pregnancy & beyond

I always recommend a beach visit for wellbeing to my patients. At all stages of life it is essential … from fertility, pregnancy, children to adults. The sea is rich in minerals and iodine! If you swim regularly in the sea you will notice your skin becomes firmer and blemish-free.


The combination of fresh air, salt water and sunshine which contains vitamin D (n.b. most Australians are vitamin D deficient!). So make sure some of your body is exposed to the sun without sun cream or coverage.

Just like a good acupuncture treatment, you will often feel relaxed after a day at the beach, probably because all the tension in your body has been unwound and it is time to rest and recover it. Swimming in sea water and walking on the morning dew grass removes positive ions that we accumulate from the electromagnetic and pollution-filled world we live in.

Its going to be 36 degrees tomorrow in Melbourne tomorrow! I dare you to visit the beach and feel the wonder of summer!!!

@Ilana Sowter Acupuncture Melbourne, Ivanhoe



Best top 10 Fertility Foods for Jing (Sperm & Eggs) according to Chinese Medicine

Chinese medicine has been treating infertility for over¬†a thousand years with references dating¬†way back to the oracle bones. This subtle and natural approach¬†lies in slowly¬†building the body’s precious substances such as blood, qi and essence. Ideally this can be done through diet, especially considering that here in Australia our soils are mineral deficient and minerals are essential to reproduction. When we regularly include nourishing foods rich in vitamins and minerals, they improve our wellbeing which extends to our fertility.

So here are my top ten favourite foods to nourish the body’s blood, qi and protect jing. Jing is our essence, what keeps us young and healthy and enables us to procreate and pass on this essence of life to our children. In Chinese medicine, having good jing levels translates to being fertile and it is worth knowing that women and men lose their jing differently. Men lose their jing through ejaculating, thus having too much sex or excessive masturbating can destroy a man’s jing. A woman loses her jing through menstruation every month, so when periods are heavy and debilitating it can exhaust the body and age it. Another way to conserve jing is to rest, so taking it easy when you need to and listening to your body is the best way to go.


  • Eggs – organic, pastured, my grandmother tells me to eat uovo sbattuto every day – a well beaten raw egg with a little sugar and marsala, it is pure jing tonic!
  • Bee pollen – great sprinkled on fruit with yoghurt
  • Berries – all kinds, make sure you wash them because they often have pesticides, they astringe the essence with that sour flavour they have. Cherries are good for the blood
  • Bone broth
  • Liver – most nutrient dense food
  • Kefir – great for immunity and generally wellbeing so you stay well and don’t tax the jing
  • Fish eggs, roe or caviar
  • Algae & seaweed
  • Nuts and seeds – consume in small amounts¬†organic, preferably soaked
  • Butter and ghee – so good! Use ghee to fry food and on vegetables etc, very nouishing for the body

Happy self-nourishing

xx Ilana Sowter Acupuncture Melbourne, @Ivanhoe

Rebalancing Mens Health from Erectile Dysfunction & Low Libido to Fertility

Erectile Dysfunction, Low Sex Drive and Mens Infertility are on the rise. 

Erectile Dysunction (ED) is a multifactorial and physical condition linked closely to cardiovascular disease, lack of exercise, obesity, smoking, excessive alcohol consumption and high cholesterol. ED can be due to arterial or nerve damage. There is an underlying cause that interferes with how the penis functions by reducing blood flow or affecting nerves, such as diabetes, obesity, hypertension or high cholesterol. Men with ED may experience the inability to attain or maintain an erection adequate for intercourse, delayed or absent ejaculation, and an inability to control its timing. Effects of this presentation include depression, loss of self-confidence, loss of intimacy in a relationship to reduced quality of life. Statistics show only 6% of men seek treatment for Erectile Dysfunction.

A reduction in Male Libido is associated with low testosterone. One theory pertains that excess toxic oestrogens know as xenoestrogens can disturb the natural hormonal balance. Xenoestrogens are found in processed food, plastics, chemicals, toxins and sweeteners. Other factors that can reduce natural testosterone levels include obesity, hyperinsulinaemia, chronic stress and oxidative stress. Medications for depression and anxiety such as SSRIs are also associated with sexual dysfunction by 25% of users. Signs and symptoms of Low Libido include a lack or loss of sexual desires, difficulty achieving orgasm, strong anxiety or depression.

Male Infertility is usually asymptomatic, the most obvious symptom being that patient’s partner is unable to fall pregnant after 12 months of unprotected intercourse. This occurs when the male is unable to produce or deliver fully functioning sperm to the female ovum. The sperm may be underdeveloped or abnormally shaped, not move properly, or there may be inadequate numbers. Oxidative stress or cellular damage is a common factor affecting sperm quality and quantity. Along with sperm production problems due to genetic causes, infections, medicines, and chemicals. Blockage of sperm transport, sperm antibodies, ejaculation issues, hormonal imbalances such as testosterone deficiency or oestrogen excess, stress, structural disturbances due to trauma, varicoceles, hydroceles, mumps, sperm antibody production, or increased toxic load from smoking, drinking alcohol, recreational drugs not to mention nutritional deficiencies can also occur.

So What Can We Do To Change This?

Living a cleaner, healthier life with exercise and required rest will make a tremendous difference. Ideally you would start this with a good liver detox. Along with taking some important herbs and supplements…

Chinese Herbs – Traditional Chinese Medicine has a long history, as far back as 200AD, herbs were being documented to treat infertility. According to your constitution and presentation, Chinese Herbs can help your body for example clear excess heat, move stagnant qi or warm your yang energy to place you back into balance. Best taken for 2-3 months prior to trying to conceive.

Zinc – The most critical trace mineral for male sexual function. Hello Oysters (they contain lots of Zinc)! Zinc is involved in absolutely every aspect of male reproduction from hormone metabolism, sperm count, motility and morphology to normal testicular development. Higher concentrations of zinc are found in the prostate and testes. Many studies have proven that Zinc supplementation improves not only sperm count but motility and morphology too.

L-carnitine –¬†Is important for the spermatozoa in their maturation and semen quality. Motility of sperm correlates directly with L-cartinine content. When L-cartinine levels are low, sperm development, function and motility are reduced significantly.

Selenium – Essential in the synthesis of testosterone, production and maturation of healthy spermatozoa, and sperm motility. Without sufficient selenium, sperm are unable to swim in the right direction or may become immobile. Selenium is paramount for spermatogenesis (sperm development) and protects sperm against oxidative stress.

Mens’ Lifestyle Tips

  1. Enjoy alcohol in moderation.
  2. Maintain a healthy weight.
  3. Stop smoking.
  4. Exercise regularly.
  5. Enjoy a healthy diet including fruits, vegetables, legumes and whole grains.
  6. Make time for good quality sleep.
  7. Herbal and nutritional supplementation.
  8. Have a regular health check-up from your GP.
  9. Be grateful for the wonderful man you are and all the great things in your life.

xx Ilana Sowter Acupuncture Melbourne, @Ivanhoe

Preconception Care for Blokes

Your lifestyle – stress, lack of sleep, excessive alcohol, caffeine and dietary habits all take a toll on your body and swimmers. Time to make some simple changes to give your baby the best chance in life:
The ideal basics are Vitamin E 1,000IU & Vitamin C 1000mg, Co-Enzyme Q10 200mg, fresh Royal Jelly, Zinc 50ug daily, 4000ug Fish oil, plus a Mens’ Multivitamin (MV) or Mens’ Pre-conception Multivitamin. Metagenics and Bioceuticals manufacture top quality supplements.
  • Aim to go to bed by 10pm, 7 to 8 hours rest is fantastic
  • Enjoy activities you find inspiring and relaxing – what do you love to do?
  • Quit smoking
  • Be mindful to not only cope with stress, but to reduce unnecessary stressors. We choose our thoughts and how we feel about things. Do you react often to things? Being grateful can help you feel really well, rather than complaining about what you hate and don’t want.
My Favourite Health Tip
Avoid cold water or cold foods Рthis rule is paramount, the cold impairs circulation. If you feel the cold easily, tire easily and have poor digestion and circulation, eating more warm soups, drinking teas and hot water will help you feel energised again.

“The importance of avoiding damaging chemicals is essential. Sperm are extremely sensitive to the effects of chemicals in the environment and in food.”

  • Start the day with a warm water and the juice of a quarter freshly squeezed lemon, you can take this before your herbs
  • Enjoy a warm, nourishing breakfast like porridge, eggs with mushroom & spinach, dark rye sourdough & boiled egg, natural muesli with some hot water and topped with plain yoghurt, cooked pears or apple
  • Refrain from adding salt to your food, it makes you crave sugar. Cooking with small amounts of natural salt is fine.
  • Eat less sweet & oily foods.
  • Drink room temperature water, warm water, hot water, herbal teas & warm food
  • If you tend to get hot easily and have a lot of heat, eat more greens and fruit, drink more water, reduce spicy, roasted and fried foods, coffee and alcohol, and make sure you get enough rest.
  • Plan for set mealtimes for breakfast, morning tea, lunch, afternoon tea & dinner.
  • Early dinner please, by 7:30pm at the latest!
  • Bone soup, is amazing for fertility and I find that couples who take it regularly (a few times a week) get pregnant sooner than later, it is very nourishing. Here is an example of a bone soup recipe, save it for when you have a day pottering at home and freeze the left overs (skim the fat too!).
  • Eat seasonal foods and those in their most natural state, this includes fresh fruits & vegetables, whole grains, nuts and legumes, smaller amounts of meat, fats and sugars.
  • Seek assistance, when you are ready to give up something, there are some excellent treatments to ensure you do this, including Acupuncture, Tapping & NLP and Hypnotherapy.
  • No fried foods or processed meats – have some nuts and seeds instead. Men who eat processed meats have poorer sperm.
  • Coffee addicts – one weak one per day
  • Alcohol drinkers – 1 glass of red wine every second night with a meal
  • Chilli lovers – Not too much spicy food – very occasional please
  • Chocoholics – try Cacao nibs mixed with some nuts and sultanas
Ladies, did you know that sperm are good for you? According to this State University of New York Study…
Anti-oxidant Foods to Improve both Sperm & Eggs
  • Royal Jelly, chicken eggs, seeds, nuts, berries, marrow bone soup, organic liver, seaweed, micro-algae (spirulina, barley & wheatgrass), oysters, nettle tea & oats.
Look After Your Testicles
Avoid saunas, overly tight clothing, anything that inflames the groin
Avoid electromagnetic radiation locally in the groin area caused by laptops/wifi devices/mobile phones etc
Wear boxer shorts and loose pants
Are you taking medications? Medications can affect sperm motility, morphology and count.
Medications for:
  • High blood pressure: spironolactone, calcium blockers
  • Peptic Ulcers: cimetidine
  • Ulcerative Colitis: Salazopyrin, sulfasalazine
  • Epilepsy: phenytoin
  • Urinary Function: nitrofurantoin
  • Antifungal medication: Grisovin and/or Griseostatin (griseostatin) (Lyttleton, 2009, p.260)
  • Medications such as synthetic testosterone, anabolic steroids and some forms of chemotherapy
  • Antibiotics such as tetracycline and erythromycin reduce sperm motility ¬†(Hargreaves et all, 1998, p.1885)
  • Sperm exposed to X-Rays become weaker and of inferior quality
Why do I  follow your recommendation?
The¬†British Association for the Promotion of Preconception Care (Foresight)¬†has established through research that healthy, well-nourished parents have healthy pregnancies and make healthy babies. They recommend having a sound, well-balanced and ‘clean; (i.e. no junk food and added chemicals) diet and the optimum intake of essential vitamins and minerals. If you a ready to become a parent, now is a great time to make those changes to better you, your partner and future offspring.¬†Following these guidelines will be highly beneficial for you. By following these guidelines 80% of the time and then enjoying what you love most 20% of the time is a great balance to practice.¬†

xx Ilana Sowter Acupuncture Melbourne, @Ivanhoe


Cooper et al. (2009) ‘World Health Organisation reference values for human semen characteristics’.¬†Human Reproduction UpdateVol.00, No.0, pp.1-15.
Hargreaves, C, Rogers, S, Hills, F, Rahman, F, Howell, R, & Homa, S (1998) Effects of co-trimoxazole, erythromycin, amoxycillin, tetracycline and chloroquine on sperm function in vitro. Human Reproduction 13 (7): 1878-1886.
Lyttleton, J (2009) Treatment of Infertility with Chinese Medicine. Churchill Livingstone, Sydney.
Noll, A & Wilms, S (2010) Chinese Medicine in Fertility Disorders. Thieme, New York.