Natur­opath and herbal­ist An­thia Koul­louros re­veals the in­spi­ra­tion be­hind her new range of teas and shares her ap­proach to good health.


to ac­claimed natur­opath and herbal­ist An­thia Koul­louros. “For me, it’s all about self care,” says the wil­lowy 45-year-old, who runs her booked-out clinic from the up­stairs room of her apothe­cary and re­tail shop, Ovvio, in Syd­ney’s leafy east­ern sub­urbs. “It was my form of medicine grow­ing up — the first tea I had was aniseed for colic. It’s com­fort­ing, there’s a real sense of con­nec­tion when you make it and there can be so much sim­ple ther­apy in tea.” At Ovvio’s new ware­house in in­ner city Alexan­dria (close to where An­thia lives with her part­ner, Paul, and 11-year-old spoo­dles, Casper and Maya), her team works dili­gently to cre­ate and dis­trib­ute Ovvio’s range of more than 40 hand­crafted, cer­ti­fied or­ganic teas. An Aus­tralian Botan­i­cals col­lec­tion, slated for re­lease some­time this year, is un­der de­vel­op­ment. “It’s re­ally spe­cial,” says An­thia. “The ingredients we have here are un­like any­thing else.” An­thia launched Ovvio (which means ‘ob­vi­ously’ in Ital­ian) as a store in 2004, then be­gan to develop her range of prod­ucts. “I wanted to reach even more peo­ple,” she says. “Ini­tially I cre­ated teas for my clients then I got picked up by a café and it went from there.” To­day, Ovvio teas, herbs and spices are avail­able on­line and in cafés, restau­rants and re­tail­ers in Aus­tralia, New York, Lon­don and France, with plans to fur­ther ex­pand into in­ter­na­tional mar­kets. Rugby league play­ers and broth­ers Ge­orge, Luke and Tom Burgess are all Ovvio am­bas­sadors, as is med­i­ta­tion teacher Tim Brown, publisher Julie Gibbs and ex-lon­grain chef and Cook’s Co-op founder Martin Boetz. “I’ve never paid in­flu­encers,” says An­thia. “They’re ei­ther peo­ple who’ve asked me be­cause they love the brand or who I’ve asked be­cause I know they drink it.” “I met An­thia at a time when I needed to look af­ter my­self and find bal­ance, and straight­away I knew she was go­ing to be an amaz­ing new friend,” says Martin, who has run a num­ber of pad­dock-to-plate work­shops with An­thia. “Our work­shops have taught me a lot about diet and the right foods to eat — sea­son­al­ity is the first thing ev­ery­one should learn.” Amid the highly clut­tered, trend-driven well­be­ing in­dus­try, An­thia’s ap­proach to health is re­fresh­ingly straight­for­ward. Based on prin­ci­ples dis­tilled from more than 20 years ex­pe­ri­ence, her key mes­sage is to hon­our the ba­sic essentials of life — good food, sleep, sun­light, con­nec­tion with na­ture and con­nec­tion with our­selves and others. “It’s al­most too sim­ple to say hy­drate more, sit in the sun, go to bed early… but it’s true!” Treat­ing food as medicine is also in­te­gral. “It’s all about source and pro­cess­ing — healthy plants, healthy an­i­mals, healthy soil — and pre­par­ing food in ways that re­tain nutrition and aid di­ges­tion rather than blast those apart with heavy pro­cess­ing.” In her 2014 cook­book, I Am Food, An­thia calls this, “Food that funds farm­ers, not phar­ma­ceu­ti­cal com­pa­nies, and is pre­pared ac­cord­ing to tra­di­tional wis­dom”. Rather than lean into sup­ple­ments and ‘su­per­foods’, she ad­vo­cates a diet of lo­cally grown, sea­sonal, or­ganic and bio­dy­namic pro­duce that is free of chem­i­cals, hor­mones and ir­ra­di­a­tion. Meat and poul­try should be pas­tured, grass-fed or free-range and seafood wild-sourced. Look also to boost your veg­etable in­take each day. “One sim­ple way is to add a hand­ful of chopped fresh herbs into at least one meal a day,” she says. “This in­creases an­tiox­i­dants, nu­tri­ents, en­zymes and flavour — it’s a way of for­ti­fy­ing your food nat­u­rally.” Lo­cal su­per­mar­ket doesn’t of­fer or­ganic? Try health food stores or shop the farm or pro­ducer di­rect. Bet­ter still, grow your own, like An­thia’s par­ents have al­ways done. “They’re both from Cyprus — Dad came here when he was 10 and Mum when she was 18 — and grow­ing up, we weren’t al­lowed a mi­crowave, we never ate junk food and we al­ways ate home­cooked meals,” she says of her child­hood in the beach­side sub­urb of Cronulla in Syd­ney’s south-east. “I got a lot of my health val­ues from them.” A faded copy of natur­opath Paavo Airola’s book How to Get Well, dis­cov­ered on a shelf aged 12, and work with natur­opath, herbal­ist and fam­ily friend Pene­lope Sach, ig­nited An­thia’s life-long pas­sion for natur­opa­thy. Af­ter study­ing at the Aus­tralasian Col­lege of Nat­u­ral Ther­a­pies, she went on to com­plete a de­gree in Health Sciences at the Univer­sity of New Eng­land and then spent 10 years de­vel­op­ing her knowledge one-on-one with clients, in phar­ma­cies, health food stores and at a lo­cal med­i­cal cen­tre, be­fore opening her own clinic. De­spite an ever-in­creas­ing work­load, An­thia her­self never gets sick and cred­its her glow­ing health to her genes, eat­ing well ev­ery­day, ex­er­cis­ing reg­u­larly and go­ing to bed most nights by 9pm. “I will get a headache if have a bil­lion things on my plate, so that’s a sign for me to un­wind,” she says. “Some­times de-stress­ing is the first part of the first aid. Peo­ple need to think about what daily self-care mea­sures they can im­ple­ment to dif­fuse and re­duce the heat and in­flam­ma­tion of their disease state.” Heal­ing is al­ways An­thia’s goal. “I see sick, wound-up, stressed out clients three days a week, every week,” she says. “I see the re­al­i­ties and hard­ship of disease, and that wears on me. Ovvio is about chan­nel­ing that into some­thing pos­i­tive. In the end, the only thing that mat­ters is our health.”

For more in­for­ma­tion on An­thia and Ovvio, tele­phone (02) 9380 7863 or visit ovvioor­gan­ics.com.au

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