The Easiest and Healthiest Breakfast ever

Easter was originally considered an ancient pagan festival. The word Easter originates from Eastra, which is Saxon for the goddess of spring who was honoured at this turn of seasons. Though we now are surrounded by bountiful chocolate bunnies and eggs, Easter reminds me to once again embrace the humble goodness of the chicken egg.

On Saturday, Emma Morano of Verbania, Italy died at the ripe old age of 117 years. What was the secret to her longevity as a super centenarian? Let me tell you now, it wasn’t Weetbix, puffed cereal or the other standard things we tend to breakfast here in Australia. It was three chicken eggs a day! Two raw, and one fried. Hopefully in bitter, ghee or coconut oil for all those good fats.

Raw eggs contain a nutrient power-house, and in Chinese medicine are considered a jing tonic, which means they nourish the body deeply forking-lasting health, energy and fertility. Eating a raw egg a day can assist the body to eliminate stored toxins and keeps the vital enzymes and nutrients intact.

My Italian grandmother told me that I must eat a raw egg a day to strengthen my immunity, and she was right. It really made all the difference and it is a super quick and very nourishing way to start the day. Traditionally, British women always ate raw eggs during pregnancy as it was an economical and essential way to get all your goodies in.

image

In the South of Italy, beaten egg or as they exotically call it Ouvo Sbattuto, is the staple breakfast for the young to the old. Traditionally it is made with a dash of marsala (alcohol), which I believe is to kill any bacteria that could exist in the egg.

As a principle invest in the best and freshest eggs you can find. For more info on this recipe, wander here and please take the plunge and try it, it will change your life!

Let food be your medicine, and medicine be your food – Hippocrates.

@Ilana Sowter Acupuncture, Ivanhoe, Melbourne, Northern suburbs

 

 

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.

image.jpg

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.

image

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!

img_0124

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

 

Hickeys? No it’s gua sha – benefits & action

Gua sha (Chinese: 刮痧; pinyin: guā shā) translates to “scraping sha-bruises”, is a key treatment in traditional Chinese medicine where a clay spoon or tool is used to scrape the skin which brings out toxic heat from the body.

The sha or toxic heat that is brought out from gua sha.

Yes, it certainly looks unsightly, a trail of bruising that could pass for a love bite track or hickey crawl.

However the benefits certainly outweigh the look, especially if you prefer to avoid medication and want to detox the body, by moving blood and toxins to the surface of the body to be renewed and healed.

In my case here the gua sha has been indicated for sore throat. It is amazing how it provides instant relief. The theory suggests that by scraping the neck, the blood brings the pathogen, stagnant qi and toxic heat to the surface, which will take some days to fade. However the internal sore throat pain is alleviated, depending on the severity of it.

Gua sha has a myriad of uses from sore throat, infection, high fever, inflammation, chills, cough, sinusitis, heatstroke to pain and much more. Discomfort can be experienced as the spoon is pressed from top to bottom, however the relief produced is usually instant and many swear by it.

This is a common theme in Chinese medicine where we aim to ‘release the exterior’, rather than always pop pills to treat symptoms, we bring it out through the skin.

As they say, better out than in!

@Ilana Sowter Acupuncture Melbourne, Ivanhoe, Northern suburbs

image
The sha or toxic heat that is brought up from gua sha

 

Anxiety: understanding and managing it with acupuncture

Anxiety is a common experience we all go through. If you have never had it before it can be quite a shocking ordeal; feeling like you are trapped within your body and know that something is wrong but are unaware of what it is.

IMG_1603

I really remember the first time I ever felt anxious. I had fallen out with a good friend, and I believe my heart was literally freaking out as I absolutely believed in my mind that we would be lifelong mates forever. As challenging as a heartbreaking experience that was for me, it was a lesson life was teaching me: to surround myself with people I am resonating, growing and evolving with.

Chinese medicine pertains anxiety to the heart energy, which houses the shen or spirit of the body. People who experience anxiety may constitutionally have a weak heart energy or perhaps suffered a lot of emotional trauma and hardship in life. Anxiety can be due to truly being unhappy about a significant aspect of life, so it is very important to reflect and look deeper to what is missing or needs requires changing. The heart energy is in full flight during summer so people can be more sensitive to anxiety during this time of the year. Practising meditation and mindfulness can endure a calming effect on the heart energy.

Acupuncture is very calming and relaxing for the heart, when combined with the right Chinese herbs anxiety can be managed and alleviated. Ultimately the patient will be willing to do the inner work to see if there is a deeper level to their anxiety with these tools and psychology, meditation and goal planning.

Medication should be a last resort, as there can be serious side effects given the cause is not being treated, just the symptom. Louise Hay says that when out body becomes ill or unhappy it speaks to us through signs and symptoms: to pop a pill for every ailment that presents is like telling it to shut up. Be kind to yourself and to the body you live in!

@Ilana Sowter Acupuncture Melbourne, Ivanhoe

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.

image

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

Let them eat cake: enjoying sugar in moderation

Sugar! Ah so addictive! Tastes so good but creates havoc so bad. My mum had my sister and I on a sugar-free diet as kids so we were very robust and healthy kids. However this meant we had no idea how to eat sweets in moderation.

Being so extreme as to never eat some sweet food is very unhealthy. How many times do you hear of people attempting this then bingeing crazily on chocolate like its about to be extinct? Sometimes a cleanse or break from sugar can be useful especially if you are trying to eradicate candida but if you are generally well I recommend eating sugar in moderation.

image
Famous Watermelon Cake, Blackstar Pastry

This is may be once a week or a fortnight, and when you do enjoy that special treat, make it count. Go out for a nice piece of cake and tea at a patisserie that makes truly divine artisan desserts to eat it properly! There is no need to be emotionally attached or guilty about eating food, it is just food.

If you find it difficult eating sweets in moderation, herbs, Chinese dietetics and acupuncture can help. I practice in Ivanhoe, Melbourne and can help you achieve balance in your life. Acupuncture can be effective for addictions, many rehab institutions have used it to support smokers and drug addicts to become free of their habit. We are well into the new year and it is never too late to get healthy and enjoy life.

@Ilana Sowter Acupuncture Melbourne, Ivanhoe

 

 

Black ginger tea: for phlegm & cough

Yesterday I had a terribly phlegmy cough and during a busy day in clinic was struggling to get my words out. A patient kindly reminded me of an Ayurvedic home remedy for cough: black ginger tea.

Black tea is beneficial for the body as it has phytochemicals and poly phenols. It also contains small amounts of caffeine which stimulate our organs mildly. Tea can prevent cancer and contains antioxidants, and is so calming after a busy day.

As a herb, fresh ginger or sheng jiang in Chinese is key to wellbeing. Ginger warms the stomach and spleen channels, is warming, pungent and can resolve phlegm. Dry ginger is better for very cold and profuse phlegm.

This tea is suitable for taking at the beginning signs of phlegm and cough, particularly clear or white phlegm. Overuse of antibiotics can make phlegm worse, acupuncture and Chinese herbs are a natural alternative form of medicine to help your body resolve phlegm and cough. Excessive antibiotic use can lead to health problems such as diarrhoea, eczema, poor immunity and creating bacterial superbugs.

image.jpg

Here is a recipe for this tea for you if you feel like a zingy pick me up!

Black Ginger Tea Recipe

serves 1

Place 1 black tea bag in 2 cups of filtered water in a pot on the stove. Add grated ginger (2x4cm piece) and bring to the boil slowly. Simmer for five mins.

Strain some of the tea into your favourite tea cup and enjoy, best drunk while relatively hot so the ginger can enter the body quickly.

It’s better to enjoy black tea in the morning as if consumed too late at night it can affect sleep, tea is not recommended in the first triemester of pregnancy either. For kids omit the black tea, add a slice of lemon and a little organic honey (also suitable for pregnancy).

Thanks to my beautiful patient for your kind suggestion ❤️

Chinese Medicine for Babies & Children with Peter Gigante

I was very fortunate today in my Masters at RMIT to learn the in depth wisdom of health for babies and children by the renowned Peter Gigante, who has been helping sick kids with TCM for over 20 years.

I find this topic personally fascinating, why do some children get more sick than others? Why do some always get ear infections? Or tummy ache or cough? Is it just constitutional or is it the diet, lifestyle, emotional and environmental surroundings?

Some fantastic points Peter brought to the the table were

  • New ways of parenting aren’t always more successful. E.g. in Australia, you often see children dressed in a t-shirt and shorts in the middle or winter. My old nonna is always telling me to rug up my baby and keep her warm.
  • Prevention is more important the treatment. Nurse your child as best you can, i.e. trying your best to breastfeed, have a healthy and well pregnancy, eat nourishing foods, get enough warmth, sunlight, play, cuddles etc. Allowing your child to rest and recuperate when they are ill.
  • Relate to nature. Where possible, get outside and try safe natural treatment and methods. Organic and free range foods, filtered water, fresh air inside the house. Natural methods are preferred and are beneficial, they tend to do less harm.
  • Preconception care & beyond. Ideally the parents are first at their optimal health, then especially the mother once conception occurs, as the wellbeing of the child is drawn from the mother. Post-partum is a special time to nourish both baby and mother, to ensure a great start to life for baby.
  • Massage. The Chinese have been doing Tui Na massage on babies and children for millennia. Peter shared an interesting case study of a 5 year-old girl with encopresis. She had this for 2 and a half years and had been to many paediatricians along with much psychological and occupational therapy. With three treatments of massage and herbs, along with massage at home, her mother was able to manage this girl’s extreme case of involuntary defaecation. Massage is amazing for babies and children; it aids strong development and recuperation during illness, they respond exceptionally well.
  • Emotional harmony. The child should be protected from extreme emotions such as anger and shock. Keeping them loved and protected, as I am always learning, they are only children and sometimes we expect too much of them!
  • Digestion. This is a big one for children and us! As children have weak digestion, we give them easy to digest food to support and strengthen digestion to transform and transport food well. Children with weak digestion are more prone to phlegm (can be seen as mucus in stools, very dribbly when not teething, chronic snotty nose, skin problems, diarrhoea, asthma).
  • Foods. Give them more bland and slightly sweet foods such as rice with a bit of chicken and vegetables or porridge with a little cooked fruit and cream/yoghurt. Rich foods with lots of salt, sugar, oil such as chocolate, juice, salty chips are very difficult to digest. Rye sourdough bread is always a good one, keep the food stodgy such as potatoes, rice, pasta or oats as the main substance.
  • Snacking. We are constantly offering food all day long to children. It is best to keep it to regular mealtimes with three meals, morning tea and afternoon tea. Sometimes they will be hungrier during growth spurts which is fine. A famous proverb in China says, “If you want a healthy child, let the child experience a little hunger and know a little cold”.
  • Diet. The rationale for children’s meals follows: predominately grain, associated by meats, enriched by vegetables and assisted by fruits.
  • Cold & raw food. Cold drinks and raw foods should be minimal in a child’s diet. We would never give a baby cold milk! Excess cold causes phlegm and slows digestion. You can give your child small amounts of raw food, ideally seasonal. It’s winter now so pears, apples and carrots are ideal. Tropical fruits such as watermelon and cantaloupe are too cooling.
  • Sunlight. Chen Wen Zhong of 1252CE observed and expressed, “Things that grow in the shade do not grow strongly”. Considering we have a Vitamin D deficiency epidemic in Australia, very much so in Melbourne, this rings true. We all need some sun and so do our kids.
  • Treatment. If you have a child who is unwell and you would like an experienced Chinese Medicine practitioner who treats children successfully, I highly recommend Kathryn Taylor in the Blue Mountains, NSW or Peter Gigante in South Melbourne and Macedon Ranges, Victoria. They are both excellent and experienced practitioners.

xx Ilana Sowter Acupuncture Melbourne, @Ivanhoe