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 herošŸ’«

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 MakeĀ 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 ā¤ļø holds the key to good health and happiness.

@Ilana Sowter Acupuncture Melbourne, Ivanhoe, Northern suburbs


Natural support for miscarriage at home

Miscarriage can occur for different reasons; a blighted ovum, genetic deformities, hostile uterine environment and even a cold uterus that fails to provide the warmth and nourishment to the baby.

Winter Magnolia

As a woman you will have a choice to have a D&C (dilate & cutettage) where the products of conception are surgically removed or to wait and miscarry at home.

It can be very frustrating and challenging if you are waiting to miscarry and continue to feel the signs and symptoms of pregnancy.

I have supported women over the years who chose to miscarry naturally; here is some information for how to support your body To miscarry with herbs, lifestyle and mindfulness.

Take a hot bath every day and add a cup of magnesium sulfite or empsom salts, a few drops of lavender and/or clary sage essential oils can be soothing.

Apply heat packs and hot water bottles to your lower abdomen and lower back, you can even make a ‘castor oil pack’ to help things move along.

Acupuncture is very effective to get the blood and energy moving, I recommend treatment as soon as you have found out the news, it’s also very calming for the mind.

Listen to meditation and look after yourself, it’s really helpful if you have someone you trust to talk to about it and support you emotionally.

Chinese herbs are excellent for supporting the body to expel the products of conception, they will also help it happen more smoothly.

Drink raspberry leaf tea, about four cups of strong tea a day and add some freshly grated ginger to the pot. Raspberry leaf is highly nutritive for the uterus and can support its function to cramp.

Add cinnamon to all your food and drinks, it is warming, sweet and soothing and moves Qi in the channels.

Eat spicy warming foods and drinks. Avoid cold foods and drinks. Ginger, garlic, turmeric and chilli all have heating properties and can increase your temperature and metabolism to miscarry.

Affirmations: I love the mantra

Let god

Let Go

Let love

To support this process. Tell your body that, “I am healed, I am healthy”.

Be kind to yourself and as heartbreaking the situation in, I truly believe it provides one with hope and faith that they do indeed have the ability to conceive.

@Ilana Sowter Acupuncture Melbourne, Ivanhoe, Northern suburbs



Chinese medicine during pregnancy: self-care

How to take care of you and your growing babe in utero? During pregnancy increased mineral and nutritional demands are placed on the body. Here are some ways to be healthy naturally during pregnancy and minimise the baby from robbing all the goodies out of you.


Rest as much as possible

Eat fresh food

Have regular acupuncture and moxa treatment, it is truly restorative for both you and baby

Avoid sugar, alcohol and caffeine

Stay fit, walking, swimming, yoga and Pilates are all good providing they are modified

Avoid cold food, ice and drinks – you need your yang energy to make the baby

I recommend a Weston-price inspired diet for pregnancy full of essential fats, protein and minerals.

Chinese herbs and supplements are very nourishing and protective during pregnancy. Speak to your practitioner about what is best for you. I always recommend Blue Ice fermented cod liver oil, it contains essential fatty acids and omega threes for baby’s brain, bones and teeth.

Protect yourself from people who are draining, pregnancy is a time to self-nourish and surround yourself with loving friends and family.

Talk to your baby and celebrate the miracle that your body is, what an amazing feat for it to grow it’s own baby!

@Ilana Sowter Acupuncture Melbourne, Ivanhoe, Northern suburbs

How to relax at night šŸ˜“

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 ā¤ļø 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 Ā 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 indecisiveĀ about life.

Wishing you healthy and happy gum and teeth health.

@Ilana Sowter Acupuncture Melbourne, Ivanhoe, Northern suburbs

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

The old adage goes you lose one tooth for every baby… what! šŸ˜­. Unfortunately when a woman goes through any major hormonal change, this affects her gums and teeth.Ā Changes in the natural or artificial production of oestrogen and progesterone can increase or reduce blood flow to the gums thus changing the way the gym tissue reacts to irritating constituents in plaque.

This means we really need to look after our teeth and gums. Pregnancy and breastfeeding post-partum demand extra minerals and nutrients from the body, and a lot of women find with the combination of hormonal changes and physical depletion cause an increased risk to receding gums, cavities, tooth pain and sensitivity.


Seeing my gums had slightly receded post two babies and a total of nearly 4 years breastfeeding; I went to a sustainable dentist, ‘Bytes of Northcote’ who told me that I was brushing too hard and recommended I have AUD$1800 of dental work done with no advice to treat or prevent the receding gums. Not feeling satisfied with her treatment plan, I received a trustworthy word of mouth recommendation to holistic dentist Dr Ben Olstein in Malvern Road, Prarhan. As I sat in his chair full of fear, although it was very comfortable with calm lighting and relaxing music he tapped away at my teeth and said they were in excellent condition. He recommended some supplements for gum health and even endorsed oil pulling! No work needed to be done, just some serious deep-cleaning from the hygienist.

Visiting your dental hygienist every six months is vital for dental health. I missed out on two six monthly dental visits because the last dentist I had seen when pregnant put the fear of God in me about my teeth!

Tomorrow, in my next post I will discuss natural tooth and gum care to prevent further damage to your pearly whites.

@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