December 03, 2015

The Drishti Blog is meant to be a source of inspiration and wellness information for our community.  As promoters of healthy living, we like to talk about all things mind, body and spirit. Today's post is an interview with a local entrepreneur who helps feed all three.

Olly Lithgow, owner of Kotuku Elixir Bar in Santa Barbara is helping bring awareness about one of the most ancient tools for wellness and healing: the incorporation of herbs, elixirs, and superfoods into our regular diet.

Let thy food be thy medicine and let Olly be thy apothecary. :)


Don't forget to check out the Bonus recipe in this post! Take a peek at the amazing recipe for "Immunity Coffee" at the end of this post. it is a super yummy and health-supporting blend of all the good things in life :)




Kotuku Elixir Bar: The Beginnings

First of all, what is Kotuku Elixir Bar and what will you find there?

Kotuku shares an awesome space in Santa Barbara with Divinitree Yoga Studio. Olly Lithgow, the owner of Kotuku, met the owners of Divnitree Yoga Studio one day while browsing at the Santa Barbara Farmers Market. After a number of conversations, they realized that their vision for creating a wellness and yoga hub were aligned in many ways, and the partnership was formed. Kotuku now occupies the entrance area at Divinitree in a beautiful historical building downtown.

Kotuku Elixir Bar offers a myriad of herbs, superfoods, medicinal mushrooms, Ayurvedic formulas, Chinese tonic formulas and protein mixtures. The high-quality products that can be found at Kotuku are carefully chosen by Olly, his tastes and knowledge springing from a lifelong fascination with the healing power of herbs.

rawpizza_kotukuRaw vegan gluten-free pizza!

A Totally Organic Experience

Olly's passion for herbs came from childhood. He grew up on an organic farm and was in and out of co-ops with his parents all the time – Natural food was natural to him. He has also always been fascinated with Chinese mysticism and medicine. As he began to explore eastern philosophy and medicinal lineages, he became increasingly interested in the benefits of this wisdom for the modern world.

As Olly explains, “Chinese herbs have animated the great yogis for thousands of years. All the great practitioners have used herbs as an integral part of their practice. Herbs provide the fuel to generate prana. This is the missing link with a lot of modern yoga practices and teachings today; The use of herbs has always been an essential part of the practice and the lifestyle. But it has been forgotten by many modern yogis - or never taught to them in the first place.”

Olly's theory is that when Westerners got introduced to yoga, which included the poses, meditation practice, and vegetarian diet, we somehow missed the extremely important knowledge of integrating herbs into the lifestyle. "It is herbs, " Olly adds, "that are what all the great yogis lived on. It is essentially a superpower vegetarian diet."

yogurt_kotukuYogurt: a healthy quick breakfast / snack.

Modernity Gets Up to Speed

The good news is that the modern world has made information about herbs and superfoods extremely accessible. We can move herbs around the world easily and we can get access to the best of the ancient herbal medicines,  which used to be  reserved only for elites. Today we are amidst a huge dispersal of this knowledge, and people are again realizing how important fine elixirs and herbs are to vitality and vibrant health.

Throughout 20’s and 30’s Olly Lithgow was involved in fine wine and worked as a sommelier. He was a buyer of fine wines for ski resorts and restaurants. It was his way to make money while pursuing another major passion – snowboarding. It was in fact through snowboarding and mountain life he got interested in higher states of consciousness, mindfulness and mind/body connection. "Once I began taking herbs," he says, "It changed my physical experience of athleticism," He explains that herbs brought him out of depression and helped him heal from snowboarding injuries and deal with habits of excess consumption of alcohol, food, and other substances.

The Herbal Investment in Your Health

As Olly, jovially puts it, "Buying a few jars of herbs a month is equivalent or less than buying a few nice bottles of booze – and the effect is much more interesting." What he means is that the effects of a bottle of wine are short-lived, but the feeling of drinking herbs lasts all day and shifts your equilibrium and the whole experience of life. Many of these herbs are adaptogens which bring overall homeostasis to the body.

The key to using herbs is to become rhythmical with our eating and being. Taking daily tonics regularly is the key to experiencing the transformative effects that herbs can have.

sweets_kotukuYUM... chocolate.

What's New and What's Next at Kotuku?

Kotuku has been open for about 2.5 years, and to celebrate this, Olly happily announces that the wild crafted Kotuku product range is now all organically certified. Kotuku also recently Joined forces with Matolle Valley naturals, which makes exceptional protein blends and greens blends. All products are also packaged by hand by yogis in Kotuku's facility Santa Barbara.

If you aren't based in Santa Barbara or can't make it in person, the Kotuku Online Store is now open as well and all products are available there.

ALSO – in the fridge: Fresh vegan salads every day; fresh almond milk, kombucha, coconut yogurt, superfood balls and lots of new AMAZING Raw deserts... like, the raw chocolate mouse... oh and the raw "cheesecake"'ll have to try them yourself to determine your fav!



Kotuku is located in Divinitree Yoga Studio, at 25 E De La Guerra St. in Santa Barbara.

Special Offer:  For our Drishti Blog readers, Kotuku will offer you 25% off your next purchase! Mention this blog article anytime between now and December 18th to receive 25% off at Kotuku Elixir Bar!


Check out this recipe from Kotuku! You can have it made on the spot in person at Kotuku in downtown Santa Barbara, or order the ingredients online - most of which you can get from Kotuku's online store.

Immunity Coffee:

  • 12 oz Cold brew or French press black coffee
  • 1 tbs of ghee or grass fed butter
  • 1 tbs coconut oil
  • tsp Kotuku Cordyceps mushroom extract
  • 1 tsp Astragalus
  • dash of cinnamon

Blend all ingredients together in a blender. Sweeten to taste with maple syrup. For extra special pizazz, sprinkle reishi spore powder on top!


xo, Drishti