NATUROPATH ANTHIA KOULLOUROS SHARES HER PASSION FOR CREATING LASTING, EXUBERANT HEALTH.
Naturopath and herbalist Anthia Koullouros reveals the inspiration behind her new range of teas and shares her approach to good health.
TEA IS SACRED
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