Treating sinusitis naturally with herbs and acupuncture

Sinusitis is the infection and inflammation of the sinus passages. In Chinese medicine the nose opens from the lung, and sinus problems are usually due to an imbalance in the lung energy but can also be spleen (digestive) related.

It is very important to have infections treated in the body because long-term they can cause problems at the organ level and to related structures and tissues. Prevention is better than cure.

Chinese medicine is excellent for sinus infections and poor immunity as we have many effective methods and tools that can boost the lung and spleen Qi (energy) to overcome the infection.

If you have chronic sinus issues and it doesn’t matter how much zinc, vitamin C or antibiotics you take it won’t resolve; then you need to look further and try something different.

Cupping involves the use of glass cups which create a suction on the skin so that when they are removed fresh blood and lymph nourish the area locally. It enhances breathing and can remove phlegm and mucus.


Acupuncture is deeply relaxing and allows the body to enter an intuitive state, improve circulation and blockages which are causing the chronic condition. Famous points used include ‘Ying Xiang’ which means welcome fragrance and is located at either side of the nostrils.

Lifestyle and dietary advice are also pivotal given you may be doing things to aggravate the condition such as consuming cold foods and drink.

Chinese herbs help immensely, they clear the damp, heat or cold in the lung and then herbs to direct this to the nose such as Bo He and Hou Po may be used.

Its never to late to start treatment for chronic sinusitis, and if you tend to suffer from poor immunity during winter, book in before the cold weather settles in to get your best results.

@Ilana Sowter Acupuncture Melbourne, Ivanhoe, Northern suburbs

Butter is a superfood hero💫

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

Gut health & immunity: kefir, curd & benefits

The weather is often hot then cold in Melbourne and many people are consequently suffering from cold, flu and poor immunity at the moment as I’m sure you’re aware!


Enter kefir or fermented milk as super probiotic to replenish your gut bacteria and restore immunity. The theory is that if you are getting sick all the time it is can be due to a deficiency of your natural probiotic flora thus your natural immune defence system is too weak to defend the body from invading pathogens. This explains why some people are more prone to recurrent respiratory or gastrointestinal illness than others.

You can easily make your own kefir at home, you just need a tablespoon of kefir “grains” to start with, which are little white bits full of the kefir culture that will ferment your milk. You can inherit these from a friend or buy them from places like GPA whole foods.

For any friends, family or patients reading this, please ask me for some kefir grains and I will lovingly pass them on – I have heaps!

How To Make Easy Kefir – add one tablespoon of kefir grains in a sterile, clean glass jar then one cup of the best milk you can find, such as goats or full-cream organic, unhomoginised milk. Screw the lid on then place in a dark place (it will die when exposed to light), mine lives in my cupboard. Leave it to ferment for 12-24 hours then pour half in a cup and drink, and top up with a cup of milk again and repeat the process. NB. Only use a plastic or wooden spoon when dealing with the grains, they react to metal.

If your prefer creamy, sweet kefir, ferment it for less time. If you are hardcore like me and love strong, sour, highly fermented kefir then leave it longer.

Along with herbs and acupuncture for immunity, kefir is a key adjunct. It is also suitable to take during IVF, pregnancy, post-partum and for kids too.

Some studies have found that kefir is more effective than therapeutic probiotics, and I love to think my little jar of ❤️ holds the key to good health and happiness.

@Ilana Sowter Acupuncture Melbourne, Ivanhoe, Northern suburbs


How to relax at night ðŸ˜´

If you are like me you are probably on your smart phone right now! It’s time to drift off and avoiding technology and screens can help us relax and wind down to get sleepy. Make sure the lights are low, I even find turning the wifi off relaxin just knowing that there is still in the house.

Have a cup of chamomile tea, play your favourite meditation and jump in some comfortable pyjamas.

Going to bed is such a wonderful thing, especially when your bed is made, the room is tidy and there is little clutter to distract you nor to remind you of all the things that need doing the next day!

Thinking about your favourite part of the day and what you are truly grateful for is a special ritual to set your slumber on a sweet note.

That glorious sunshine, the blossoming red rose you walked by, that lovely person who stopped to say hello and smile at you… All these small things make the world a beautiful place and us so grateful and happy to be alive.

Melbourne is a busy city, and we can live crazy lives, but we all deserve some downtime ritual in the evening for a good sleep. Louise Hay even recommends to thank your refrigerator and even your favourite piece of furniture! Mine is definitely my bed.

Thank you bed, I ❤️ you.

@Ilana Sowter Acupuncture Melbourne, Ivanhoe, Northern suburbs


Natural teeth care during IVF, pregnancy, post-partum & menopause: part II

Now on to the fun stuff, so what do we do to prevent gum and tooth problems in these changed hormonal states?

First of all, you need a good dentist and hygienist. Having your teeth cleaned and removed of calculus every six months will prevent tooth decay and gum irritation and recession.

Getting adequate rest is vital, especially if you are sleep deprived your body will create more inflammation and calculus.


Regular exercise is important to keep your Qi flowing and immunity up, because poor immunity creates more inflammation in the body.

Ensure you get enough essential fats such as grass-fed tallow, ghee, butter and coconut oil. Lots of veggies. Stick to grains or carbs which are properly processed and cultured such as basmati rice, light rye sour dough and potatoes. Whole grains are high in phytic acid, yes think weet-bix and oats! Phytic acid blocks absorption of minerals and excess can cause cavities. Aim to obtain fibre from vegetables.

Other foods that are high in physics acid are coffee, chocolate and alcohol. Seafood, grass-fed meats and eggs are all excellent sources of protein and fat.

Drink enough filtered water, especially after meals. Green tea is beneficial for oral health.

In terms of oral hygiene, flossing gently and daily is important. Oil pulling with extra-Virgin coconut oil for twenty minutes is healing too, just ensure to rinse with salty water or gently brush teeth afterwards. Use a natural, fluoride-free toothpaste such as homemade tooth powder or earthpaste. A daily gargle of some water with half a teaspoon of sea salt is great for the gums too.

And of course minimise sugar, one study found that plaque, calculus and tartar still form on teeth even if it doesn’t touch them because of the high sugar levels in the blood.

Acupuncture and Chinese herbs are excellent to support your body naturally through these changes in hormonal states, especially if you are feeling unwell or have noticed some health issues arise. Supplements are also important to ensure your body is getting enough  minerals, the body is robbed of them during pregnancy and breastfeeding especially.

From a metaphysical perspective gum and tooth problems relate to being wishy washy and indecisive about life.

Wishing you healthy and happy gum and teeth health.

@Ilana Sowter Acupuncture Melbourne, Ivanhoe, Northern suburbs

Bun in the oven: keeping the yang warm for fertility and pregnancy acupuncture

Got to love that phrase, bun in the oven! But these sayings often ring true. As we age the yang, or the warming energy of the body declines and can cause health issues such as cold feet, diarrhoea, bloating, dark under the eyes and exhaustion.


A baby needs a warm uterus to grow and thrive, too much cold in the uterus restricts circulation and blood flow, and from a Chinese medicine perspective can even cause miscarriage. This is why drinking warm drinks and eating warm food can be vital for a healthy conception and pregnancy. This is especially important after birth which taxes the body.

With the acupuncture and Chinese medicine treatment I practice in Ivanhoe, Melbourne some of the treatments I incorporate involve moxibustion, involving the waving of heated herbal sticks on specific acupoints of the body, Chinese dietetics, acupuncture, lifestyle advice and herbs.

As the old adage a bun in the oven goes, that oven needs to be warm not freezing cold.

@Ilana Sowter Acupuncture Melbourne, Ivanhoe

Breastfeeding & society: mother of 4 shamed in National Gallery Australia

I was shocked to read that a mother was told to go to the parents room when feeding her baby daughter at the Versaille’s exhibition at the National Gallery in Canberra! The security guard approached her indicating it was an issue of decency and modesty.

This is outrageous considering that we are in 2017 and there are these kinds of qualms going on in our Australian culture. Many women struggle with breastfeeding, mastitis and maintaining a healthy milk supply, imagine going through these issues then being told to go and shut yourself away in a room because you are doing something indecent in public.


I like to think we live in a society now where we are all loving and accepting of however we feed our babies, whether from a boob or bottle they are all beautiful little creatures who deserve love and to be respected regardless of how they are nourished. The WHO (World health organisation) recommends that babies are breastfed to 6 months and up to two years for the health and wellbeing of both mother and baby. Breastfeeding is not only great for babies, it can reduce the mother’s chances of developing breast cancer later in life. They probably don’t tell you that if you buy a pink bun from Bakers delight.

Acupuncture and Chinese herbs are excellent for supporting a mothers breast milk supply, and are just effective for mastitis if you are looking for an antibiotic or drug-free treatment. If you are struggling with generally breastfeeding, find a good lactation consultant they can make all the difference.

@Ilana Sowter Acupuncture Melbourne, Ivanhoe

Top fertility food: uovo sbatutto the jing tonic

Recently I mentioned the benefits of eggs for fertility, especially while you are getting your acupuncture to optimise the benefits of your treatments. My nonna (Italian grandmother) swears by this dish for breakfast to restore and rejuvenate your health if you have been sick or exhausted.

Uovo sbatutto translates in Italian to ‘beaten egg’ in English. It certainly is an acquired taste, like most weird healthy food does but I must say it is quick, easy, and satusfying to eat and prepare!


one raw, fresh organic egg

a dash of maple syrup/honey

a dash of whiskey or Marsala

Method: Place whole egg maple syrup and whiskey in bowl. Beat for 2-3 minutes until it is a thick foamy consistency. Eat from bowl in the sunshine or place in a fancy glass and enjoy!


You can mix up what you add to your uovo sbattuto, a pinch of cinnamon or turmeric, a dash of coffee or some organic milk. I added freshly grated ginger to mine today because I felt a bit phlegmy.

What is it good for?

So many things, it’s great for teeth and bones, essential fats to build sex hormones, it’s nourishing for women who are pregnant (just make sure your eggs are super fresh and clean), breastfeeding and kids too. It is a jing tonic, given the Chinese consider pure egg as pure essence, pure substance that is very nourishing like other eggs and seeds found in nature are good for our gametes (eggs and sperm).

So give it a try, it is like a frothy mousse with a slight sweet flavour. A traditional Italian breakfast that deserves some appreciation. Buon appetito!








Acupuncture for C-section scars: improving healing and reducing numbness

Having a caesarean section (c-section) can be a traumatic experience, especially if has been an emergency. Learn more about having a more gentle caesarean here. The good news is that you can help your body to heal well afterwards. Along with resting, eating nourishing foods, doing pelvic floor exercises and taking it easy (yes, that’s right! None of this getting back to pre-baby shape in 3 weeks post-partum, please!).

Acupuncture can be administered soon after the operation on distal points such as the legs and arms not where the c-section incision has been made.

I start scar needling techniques at 6-weeks post c-section.


This involves the gentle insertion of tiny needles around the scar. I have used this technique for various post-surgical scars such as breast implants, laparoscopy and hernia. The sooner you receive the acupuncture for scar treatment the better the results will be. The treatment can bring blood and qi (energy) to the area which has been blocked by scar tissue. This can result in improved sensation to the area, thus reducing numbness and increasing the rate of scar healing as they can get lumpy or infected. Prevention is better than cure. The other benefit of having acupuncture for c-section scar treatment is that it is very relaxing and most women are taxed after delivery, whether it be from blood loss, learning how to breastfeed or sleep deprivation. So looking after yourself can prevent exhaustion, low mood and getting sick as women are more vulnerable at this time.

I believe that the acupuncture treatment is highly beneficial given it enables the body to be more connected and is great for circulation. When people have old, untreated scars which are fibrous and numb, it can cause qi and blood stagnation and for the person to fear and feel detached from the particular area of their body. The other issue is that if subsequent children are wanted, long-term numbness and lack of circulation will affect the ren channel, the channel that begins at the vagina and ends at the nose which governs fertility. So if you have had a caesarean or a planning one, consider acupuncture scar treatment to keep your body in tip top shape. After all, we need prime health to look after these little ones!

xx Ilana Sowter Acupuncture Melbourne, @Ivanhoe

Best Natural Products Mother & Baby Care 2015

Are you having a baby or do you have a newborn? Are you wondering what are the essentials for you both? Here are a few of my favourite things! There are some very fantastic aids out there to help you and your baby to be healthy and happy… naturally!

With my new addition Chiara I have found the following 5 products to be wonderful:

  1. Hug-a-bub is the Byron Bay inspired baby wrap carrier. It is tricky to learn but once you get the hang of it is fantastic. So far the best carrier I have used for baby from 0-4 months. They come in a gorgeous range of colours and I still use the one I had for my son 6 years ago. A timeless, natural classic! Best thing about it is you are also hands-free and great for baby to strengthen their neck muscles and digestion. Lying down all the time can cause wind, strapping baby comfortable close to you can warm their tum and help them digest well. Always follow instructions on how to use this and do it safely and properly.
  2. Nappy Rash be gone! With Weleda Calendula Nappy Rash Cream. It contains zinc and calendula (yellow flowers clear heat and inflammation!) and is reasonably priced too. A natural nappy rash cream that actually works. One of these creams sells every 10 seconds. Thank you Weleda!
  3. Cushie Tushies Reusable Wipes – the Royal Melbourne Childrens’ Hospital recommends using warm water to clean and wipe your baby’s bottom as much as possible to prevent nappy rash. I use Naty Eco wipes for number 2s then followed by a cushie tushie wipe or when we’re out and about.
  4. Homeopathic arnica remedy 30c – Homeopathy is a wonderful medicine. The Royal Family have their own in-house homeopath would you believe? The other day I banged my shin so badly I was in excruciating pain! I took a couple of doses of arnica and the next day all the swelling and inflammation was gone and I was left with minor bruising and a scratch. Incredible! A great remedy to have on hand for children constantly bumping and injuring themselves. Homeopathy is a very safe and gentle medicine for adults, children and babies.
  5. Organic garlic & honey – this is the natural, hardcore and rather stinky antibiotic of nature (Pepe Le Pew style!). We have had the coldest winter in Melbourne in 30 years! I have gotten sick twice this winter, and taking 1 teaspoon of dark, organic honey with a clove of finely chopped garlic really clears the green/yellow phlegm and other nasties out of the body. Great for baby too as it goes through the breastmilk. Healthy mummy means healthy baby. Take this three times a day until symptoms improve. Remember if it does not improve or get work see your GP/trusted and registered health practitioner. Never give babies under 12 months honey.

xx Ilana Sowter Acupuncture Melbourne, @Ivanhoe