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Period Story Podcast, Episode 15: Shiona Redmond, Nobody Knows Our Bodies Better Than Us

On today’s episode of Period Story Podcast, I had the pleasure of speaking with Shiona Redmond, the founder and CEO of Graces London, a CBD cannabinoid skin care and wellness brand. April is Adenomyosis awareness month, and I’m so happy that Shiona was able to share her journey to getting diagnosed and what she does to manage this condition, alongside running a business and raising two daughters.

Shiona shares the story of her first period at 12 years old. She talks about how disappointing it was and how it didn’t compare to what her friends were experiencing. She says that she was really lucky that her mum and school were really good about talking to her about the changes that were happening to her body. 

Shiona talks about her journey to getting diagnosed with adenomyosis, after years of heavy, painful periods and digestive issues. She said that she spent years thinking that her period was supposed to be like that and she just needed to cope. 

It was only after a trip to A&E with breakthrough pain that Shiona realised that her periods weren’t supposed to be so painful. Listen to hear the moment where she decided she wasn’t going to be fobbed off by doctors any longer and how she advocated for herself to get a proper diagnosis.

Shiona talks about her passion for CBD and the power of the endocannabinoid system in promoting internal balance  and how she’s used this as a tool, alongside healthy eating and lifestyle to manage adenomyosis. 

Shiona is very kindly offering listeners a free sample of the CBD oil to try for yourselves. Go to www.graceslondon.com to get your sample. 

Get in touch with Shiona:

Website

Instagram

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SHIONA’S BIO

Shiona Redmond is the co-founder, formulator and CEO of Graces London, a CBD cannabinoid skincare & wellness brand. Graces London was one of the first CBD skincare brands to be launched in the UK back in 2016 and the first CBD brand to be stocked in the prestigious UK store Selfridges.

Shiona’s passion for plant based ingredients, alternative therapies, cannabis, herbs and wellbeing, stems from caring for her terminally ill father Paul for over 15 years. After her father lost his battle to Multiple Sclerosis in 2014, Shiona drew on her experiences of caring for her father to create skincare and food supplement formulations to promote internal and external balance. 

Shiona is a mother of two girls and runs the family brand alongside childhood sweetheart Jason Grace. With Grace being the family surname the brand was named in honour of their two children.  In her spare time Shiona is a singer / songwriter and also sits on the advisory board for CPASS, a UK cannabis patient advocacy and support service. 

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SHOW TRANSCRIPT

Le’Nise: On today’s episode, we have Shiona Redmond; Shiona is the founder, formulator and CEO of Graces London, a CBD cannabinoid skin care and wellness brand. Graces London was one of the first CBD skincare brands to be launched in the UK back in 2016 and the first CBD brand to be stocked in the prestigious UK store Selfridges. Shiona’s passion for plant based ingredients, alternative therapies, cannabis, herbs and wellbeing, stems from caring for her terminally ill father, Paul for over fifteen years. After her father lost his battle to Multiple Sclerosis in 2014, Shiona drew on her experiences of caring for her father to create skin care and food supplement formulations to promote internal and external balance. Welcome to the show.

Shiona: Oh, thank you so much for having me.

Le’Nise: Let’s get into the story of your first period. Can you share with us what happened?

Shiona: I can. I was actually 12 years old and I was one of the youngest in my class. So all my friends in my circle had already had their periods. Pretty much kind of, you know, nearly a whole year before me. So I was desperate, Le’Nise, to have my period. I was counting down the days and months. And when it did come, it was just incredibly disappointing. It was a couple of spots and that was it. And I was listening to all my other friends, you know, the blood flow that they were having, it was quite a talk in school at the time when we were having our periods. But mine was quite disappointing. There was just nothing there.

Le’Nise: How did you know what was happening and who did you talk to when this happened?

Shiona: Well, my mum was quite good in that she’d come and talk to me all about periods and the changes my body was going to go through and just kind of giving me heads up that this is something that’s going to happen. In school they were really good as well. So they had nurses come in and talk to us and they had these really informative little five minute video clips that used to play in class that used to give us quite a lot of information. And then most of my talks and learning about stuff was probably just through friends actually going through it. I kind of knew something was happening because I was getting a lot of discharge in my underwear. So I remember saying to my best friend Danielle at the time that this is something that was happening. “Does that mean it’s coming? Am I getting my period?” And yes, it’s pretty much a load of different areas. So school, my mum and friends really. Yeah.

Le’Nise: And it’s really interesting that you say that you got a lot of knowledge from school and the school nurse because so many of the women that I’ve interviewed on this podcast, they said that they didn’t really learn much from school. And it was, you know, they got a kind of cursory education. But what they had to do is speak to their friends and some of them spoke to their siblings or their mothers.

Shiona: When I speak to a lot of other friends that didn’t go to my school, I kind of hear the same. And it wasn’t a lot of information but they did actually take the time out to actually show us what a tampon looked like, show us what a sanitary towel looks like, allowed us to kind of pass them around in class, allowed us to look at them. They then spoke to us about the internal of how the blood flow happens, how the cycle happens. So although it was maybe a tiny little bit scientific for us at that age, it was good that the initial education kind of was there and all girls were taken away from boys to be told this as well. And this was actually in year six in primary school, so this was even before I got into secondary school. So I suppose I was one of the lucky ones because it then made you go home and go, “oh, Mum, you know, this happened today in school.” And then it just kind of the conversation went on more from then. So yeah, I suppose I was quite lucky in that sense.

Le’Nise: And what sort of conversations did you have with your mum that kind of stemmed off of what you learned in school?

Shiona: I suppose it was probably a little bit more sciency in school, more about the human body. So I’d go home to my mum and be like, “But what does it feel like? Is it going to hurt? Why have I got to have this every month? For how long?” You know it would it be all those sorts of questions. I have an 11 year old myself at the moment who I believe is currently showing signs of going through her first period. I believe it’s probably going to come within the next year. And it’s funny to watch her and see the same kinds of questions are coming to me. She’s very keen for me to get her first period subscription box so she can read all about it and see all the different things that she might be able to use. So, God, the times have really changed. Sorry, I probably I’ve gone off a little bit.

Le’Nise: A period subscription box and she’s asking for that? That’s really sweet.

Shiona: How sweet is that? But we didn’t have that back then. But I suppose it was nice that I had that initial conversation in school, was able to go home to my mum, and then off the back of what my mum said, go and check with friends to see what they think as well, you know? But yeah, there’s so much information out there now for my daughter when we speak about it a lot more openly. I suppose, I started the conversation with my daughter Macy at a younger age. I think when it came to me having my period; I think my mum probably waited to a few months before that first period was going to happen. I think I started having a conversation with my daughter when she was probably about eight, nine, ten. Just because, you know, it’s something that us women go through, they see my sanitary towels or tampons or moon cup around the house and it’s something that I’ve just always been quite open with, with them.

Le’Nise: How have they reacted to the conversations that you’ve been having with them?

Shiona: Well, they’re just really curious. They’re really inquiring kids. And I suppose there’s been so many times when I’ve been stuck on the loo and I’ve got two young girls that are 11 and 8 and maybe the sanitary towels in my bedroom, I haven’t bought in with me and I’ll give a call out. Can somebody grab something for me? I suffer with adenomyosis, so I do leak quite a lot. I’m always having accidents and they’re aware of that. They know that “Oh mummy’s got to rush to loo, she’s leaked a little bit of blood” and that’s quite normal to them. I think it’s because they’ve just been they’ve grown up with it, Le’Nise and I’ve just always answered the questions surrounding it. I mean I have a really funny, funny story of when my youngest girl was 4 years old and she managed to get hold of my panty liners and being the artistic creative that she is, she decided to Pritt stick them on a A4 piece of paper and paint them like she just had no idea what they were, she was so interested in using cotton wool and glitter and sequins and oh, here’s some panty liners, they look amazing, let’s just stick those on and do some art. So that’s quite a funny moment with them.

Le’Nise: That’s really funny. That’s so cute.

Shiona: I was in shock. “Mummy, look at my picture.” Is that panty liners?

Le’Nise: I want to go back to what you’re saying about the adenomyosis and just talk a little bit about how your journey with getting diagnosed, because I know that your story is really interesting and it actually fed into a lot of the work that you’ve done with your company.

Shiona: It really did. I suppose if I just give you a brief background of my research over the years. My dad was terminally ill with Multiple Sclerosis and I spent a majority of my time looking after his 24 hour carers and just overseeing every moment of his care, really. And I was obviously a passionate daughter that wanted to keep him well. So I researched the internal systems of the body pretty much from my teenage years up to the age I am now, 34. And it was only when in my dad’s passing in 2014, I was already looking into cannabis and cannabinoids and CBD in particular. The reason for this, my dad was asked to be part of a cannabis trial here in the UK back in 2002 because of his terminally ill Multiple Sclerosis that he suffered with. It was something that he chose not to do at the time, but it really just never went away. It was always there in my head that, that was something that he was offered as a medicinal trial. And it was later it came back, I think I was about 18, 19, 20 and I started to look into MS again and looking into alternative therapies. And I just was always trying to be at the front line of what my dad should be having, if it’s something like garlic capsules or should he be having B12 vitamins. I was just always trying to understand his internal systems, his body.

When in early 2017, I got my diagnosis of adenomyosis, I really hadn’t thought of myself as looking into my own internal systems of my body. I’ve never really looked at my own self-care or my own wellness or how I was reacting to food or what vitamins I may need. The penny just really dropped for me, Le’Nise and everything that I had been researching over the years made me look at myself for my own wellness, and straightaway I knew that having at the time I had an overactive thyroid, I just had a really bad bout of glandular fever and now I was having a diagnosis of adenomyosis and I knew that it was the endocrine system that was being attacked. And now this is something that I had been reading and researching for years was the endocrine system. And the reason being is the endocrine system is one of the internal systems of the body that works and fits nicely into our endocannabinoid system and to try and do it as briefly as I can.

The endocannabinoid system is one of the largest receptor systems in our body, and it’s really a self-regulatory system that tries to create homeostasis amongst the internal systems of the body and which is really all about trying to promote internal balance, whether that be balance of the immune system, balancing the endocrine system, etc.. And I suppose it was really my friends and family that were just coming to me saying, “Shiona, you’ve been making these cannabinoids, CBD balms and oils. We’ve been using them for not only skincare”, but there was a lot of feedback coming back to me from so many different things that my mum was pretty much screaming at me going, “You know, you need to practice what you preach. Have you tried any of your oils?”

And when you’re in the thick of it and you’re trying to help others and you’re a busy mum and you’re working and doing 101 things, the last thing that I was thinking of was myself. And it was only when I started to really look at what I was eating and what I was drinking and I was putting on my skin and what sanitary towels and tampons I was using that I really started to see a change since my diagnosis and really just trying to understand what had happened internally to me to get to this level. So, yeah, sorry I’ve babbled there haven’t I, Le’Nise?

Le’Nise: No, you haven’t. It’s really interesting. So you got your period when you were 12, but you didn’t get your diagnosis for adenomyosis until you were 31, 32?

Shiona: 32, yes.

Le’Nise: Let’s just take a step back. Adenomyosis, I don’t know if a lot of people will be familiar with it. So a lot more people are familiar with endometriosis. And sometimes, adenomyosis, it gets mistaken for endometriosis. But with adenomyosis, you have the uterine tissue or tissue similar to the uterine tissue within the muscular lining of the uterus so that it reacts just like the uterine tissue, that it gets expelled when we have our period. But the tissue actually can’t be expelled because it’s within the muscular lining. So can you just talk us through, if you’re okay with this, your journey to getting a diagnosis and what age you were when you first started to experience the symptoms of adenomyosis?

Shiona: Yes, of course. I’ll briefly mention that when I got to the age of 14, my periods became incredibly heavy, to the point, I remember sitting in science lab and you just get that terrible sensation of just a full flow that you were just being completely flooded. And I spent a lot of my teenage years when I was on my period, at home, and it really had a detrimental effect on my education for that year from age 14 to 15, because I’d spend ten to fifteen days at home every month. So my mum brought me to the doctors and it was advised that I should be put on the contraceptive pill. So I was actually put the contraceptive pill when I was 15 years old to regulate my periods. And it really did help at the time; I was bleeding before going on the contraceptive pill for nearly fifteen days. And it was just ridiculous. The fatigue, I had no appetite and my mum was quite worried about me. And I just didn’t feel great. So when I went onto the contraceptive pill, it really did help regulate things. And then I went on to have my first child when I was 23, and obviously I came off the contraceptive pill when I found out I was pregnant.

And I then noticed after having my first child, the incredible, painful periods and I was bleeding for 15 days again and that feeling of fatigue and general unwellness was all coming back. So I went back to the doctors and it was said that I should probably go on the contraceptive pill again to try and regulate it because I had these problems before. So, I mean, I was just at a loss end at the time and just really wanted something to sort it out because I’d spent four days in bed and with young children, it was just not on, and obviously working as well. So I did go back on the contraceptive pill and that did help. I then came off it again to have my second child and after my second child, I had a bit of a very full on birth and I had some complications but after giving birth to my second child, that same period came back, I was now bleeding for 17 days was one of the months I bled for and it was just awful. And at this moment, obviously, I was still looking after my dad, my dad was alive at the time, but I just didn’t have time to really tap into my own, what was going on with me. So I kind of just put up and shut up, if I’m honest and I was coping with diarrhoea every month, really bad thrush, I was constantly feeling very faint for those first two days that I was on my period, and I suppose I just spent years of just, “well, this is what my period is, this is oh I’m just that unfortunate one that has really bad pain, poor me”, because I had other friends that just would get a dull ache for a couple of minutes and then bleeds. And then I’d have other friends that were kind of pretty much like me. So I just was, I suppose I don’t know, I don’t know if society had taught us or it was just that it was accepted, I’d accepted that, you know, okay, I’m going to have diarrhoea every month, I’m going to have thrush, these are things that I just need to kind of cope with.

It was then obviously through my business with CBD, more and more people coming to me saying, “This is really helped with my hormonal outbreaks on my skin.” A lot of people have found benefit with acne and then it just started to stem into more and more things and more and more research that was emerging in the cannabinoid industry, not really in the UK, but more from Israel and other parts of the world. I was seeing the relation of how it could be linked: CBD, cannabinoids, the endocrine system, the endocannabinoid system. So I took some time out and thought, you know what, I’m going to start looking at myself and the ailments that I’m going through and just try to work what’s going on. It’s probably not the thing you should do. But I’ve done that thing of I kind of self-diagnose myself and said, right, I think I’ve got endometriosis. And I went to the doctors and I said to them, a quick brief outline, how I’ve just done to you, of my history. And I was kind of fobbed off. It was just some periods can be painful, I was told, it could just be something I’m experiencing from giving birth. I was really just fobbed off. I waited a few months and then I had a really, really bad outbreak where I was rushed to A&E, I’d collapsed on the floor; I was projectile vomiting, diarrhoea at the same time. And it was called, which I found out after, It’s actually called breakthrough pain, where the blood flow tries to push through the uterine wall or I’m not entirely sure how it all completely works, I’m sure you’d be able to explain it a lot better than I would. But it’s called breakthrough pain and it literally is in the name, where it just completely takes you out. And I made a stand after going into A&E and being in such a bad way when the male nurse turned to me and was like, “So you’ve basically just got period pain?” And I just looked at him and I was like, “This is really not just period pain.”

And I just took the time to really dig my heels in, if I’m honest. I had to print off articles that I had to show my reasonings as to why I thought this is what I had. And it did pay off. I was one of the lucky ones that on the second doctor that I did see, he was amazing and he really did listen and he really helped and he gave me that referral to the doctor that I needed to see at the Whittington Hospital in North London and I got my diagnosis. I got mine quite quickly, I hear of friends that have been 8 to 10 years that have took a really long time to get their diagnosis. I honestly believe with my mum being a nurse and having doctors and physicians in my family, that I just really took that, right I’m going to print off the file, I’m going to get dividers and put all the research into pockets for them to read if they need. But I really had to push hard to get that diagnosis.

Le’Nise: There are so many things in what you’ve said that I want to highlight. I think the first thing is that you said that you thought that this is what your period was and you accepted that this was your normal. I mean, that really shocked me because you know, everything that you’ve gone through and everything you’ve described with, you know, the diarrhoea, the thrush, the fainting and then even having that experience of breakthrough pain and going to the hospital and having the male nurse say in a kind of dismissive way, “oh, so you’ve just got period pain.” I mean, how dare he?

Shiona: It was that initial meeting, so when you go into A&E, you have your first initial meeting before you then get seen by the consultant or doctor. So I get that it’s one in, one out, and it’s quite a quick thing. But you go in and, you know, you haven’t got long in there. So I was trying to be quite blunt, concise, this is what’s going on, this is what’s happened today, I fainted, I projectile vomited, incredibly bad pain in my stomach, I’m on my period, you know, and his exact words were, “So you’re basically on your period.” And it was such a kick in the stomach. And I couldn’t even cry because I’d already cried so much because I was in so much pain, you know? But that was the moment for me that I thought, “No, I’m not having this, I’m just going to keep screaming and shouting and keep making doctors’ appointments until somebody listens to me.” But it pretty much was me going in and going, “I think I have this,” you know, and me just getting a doctor going, “okay, I hear you, I understand that you’ve really looked into this, you understand your own body, you feel quite strongly about this, I can see why you would, there’s a lot of correlations there”. And then him sending me on my way to then for me to then get the diagnosis of adenomyosis and also fibroids on both ovaries, oh I have this as well. But yeah, it wasn’t a nice moment. No.

Le’Nise: So you originally thought that you had endometriosis?

Shiona: I did.

Le’Nise: Can you talk us through how they diagnose, so what was the medical process that you went through to get your adenomyosis diagnosis?

Shiona: That day for me was probably I mean, it wasn’t painful for me at all if I’m honest, she was very gentle with all the internal examinations that she’d done beforehand, before you go through the procedure, and that day for me was a great day because I knew I wasn’t going crazy, it was the day that someone had gone, this isn’t actually normal what you’re going through this. It shouldn’t be this painful. You actually have got six fibroids, I think, on one ovary and I’ve got quite a lot on the other ovary. The day for me, that somebody actually understood and that she really took her time out, the consultant, I can’t think of her name at the moment, but she really took her time out to talk to me about the different research studies that were currently going on. And there was one going on about high intake of sugar. And they haven’t scientifically linked it yet but there were a lot of research studies that were surrounding that. And it was just it was a great day for me where I just let out a relief, a big sigh of relief that actually this isn’t normal and there may be something that I can do now moving forward to try and cope better and get better coping mechanisms. So I’m not in bed 4 days a month and I’m not dealing with all these different ailments. You know?

Le’Nise: So you got your diagnosis and you said you had a sigh of relief, it was a great day. And it sounds like your consultant was quite switched on, in that she was making the link between sugar and was it the adenomyosis or the fibroids?

Shiona: It was the adenomyosis.

Le’Nise: What did she recommend as a next step?

Shiona: Well, I spoke to her that I kind of wanted to try and do as much as I could through diet. Were there any changes that I could do through diets? And that was one of the main things she said to me was, although it wasn’t scientifically proven yet, there were a lot of research studies that were showing that a high sugar intake may contribute to adenomyosis. Now, I myself, when she said this knew I had a huge high sugar intake; I was probably drinking up to 10 cups of tea a day with two great big spoons of sugar. I mean, now we do the maths on that, just absolutely ridiculous. Although I wouldn’t allow my dad when looking after him to have that entire sugar intake, I just wasn’t looking at myself like that. You know, I was just seeing myself as, I’m a young, well fit person that has you know, I have the period pain and it was getting worse at the time, but I just didn’t see how much sugar that I was actually having but it was really having a massive impact.

So I started to cut sugar out pretty much straight away, I switched to mint tea, green tea. I got rid of my builders cup of tea, although I still have one every now and again  I’m not going to lie, but I really cut the sugar out and I noticed a relief in my symptoms within the first two to three months of me cutting sugar out. Now, I hadn’t done anything else, only cut sugar out. So I really, really did feel the benefit of doing so. And she was great because she also really went in depth on showing me the scans. She showed me how the fibroids show up on the scan like the how adenomyosis looks and it was like dark black patches on my womb. She explained to me the breakthrough pain, the reason why I was fainting. You faint because the body just can’t cope with that pain, it’s such a horrific pain that the body just cuts out. I learnt actually a lot from her that day. She spent a lot of time with me. And from going through, you know, 18 months, two years of not really anyone listening to me. I do feel incredibly grateful that it didn’t take me as long as friends, like I said, that have had to wait eight to ten years of not being listened to or having to wait so long for a diagnosis.

Le’Nise: Yeah. You were really lucky to have such a knowledgeable consultant who was able to make these connections and who was able to guide you through your scans and show you everything in such a compassionate way.

Shiona: I think we have to ask questions. I think I’m that person anyway, that’s sitting there going why have I got this? I look at somebody like my Nan and my Nan goes into the doctor’s, you know, she cracks me up. She’ll go in and, you know, she’ll tell them the problem and whatever they say to her, “that’s okay, thank you doctor, goodbye.” And she just, you know, and she just takes everything at face value.

Whereas I’m really intrigued by how the internal systems of the body work. I’m really intrigued as to how we can impact it through foods and diet and through other external factors, i.e. products we use on our skin. Is that having an impact? So I’m always asking questions. We shouldn’t be fearful or scared that these people are doctors and they’ve trained and the consultants, they are, and we’re very grateful for that. But nobody knows our own bodies like ourselves. You know, we know if we’ve eaten something dodgy and it may have had an impact on us or we know if that period was worse last month than this month or we know if our breasts are sorer in the left breast or the right breast. And I think more and more what I see, especially amongst my friends and family, I think we’re all starting to really tap more into our own bodies. And just really I think we need to go in there and just ask the questions. So I believe that she was brilliant in the sense of giving me such great information and education, but it really was, I think we have to go in there armed with our questions, you know, to really try and get an understanding of what is going on, you know?

Le’Nise: Yeah, absolutely. I am very much about taking a very empowered approach when you go to your GP and making sure that if you get 10, you only get 10 minutes, but you’re using that 10 minutes to the best of your ability and going in there armed with information, symptoms, even like a time line, if that’s available to you. I just want to go back to what you were saying about how you then started to look at how you got your diagnosis and you started to look at food and diet and the products that you were using on your skin. And so, did you do a big overhaul of your diet? You mentioned cutting out the sugars.

Shiona: I actually did, I straightaway went to pescatarian, so I cut out red meat, I cut out chicken, I just started to eat fish, I really upped my intake of green leafy vegetables because I’ve just done lots of my own research. I’m not telling other people what to do, but it’s just what works for me at the time. I decided that I wanted to cut out acidic foods as much as I could. One of the things that I was going through every month was I was so gassy that week before my actual flow, my actual period, the blood flow would come, I would be full of wind, constantly full of wind and it was really, really painful. And I know that anyone that’s experienced wind, that it can be really, really excruciating pain, especially if it’s trapped wind around the back passage area or down below that area. So this was something that I was coming up against every month, a week before that blood flow. And then I’d have that really bad diarrhoea.

So through just my own research, I was looking into how I wanted to implement a lot of alkaline foods and keep away from the acidic side of things, because I just believed personally in my own opinion, that the acidic foods, where just contributing to these gases that were happening in my body. So I went straight to pescatarian, so that means I was eating fish, I still ate fish, sorry, as well as lots and lots of vegetables and I really did notice an impact. So, first of all, I did the sugar, I then done the pescatarian a couple of months later and I tapped back in a couple of months later, I was like, well, I fancy meat again, I’m going to start eating meat again. And, you know, I went back full hog started eating meat again. My period came and wow, it was astonishing how much more painful it was that month, I mean, I never got rid of the pain. I never got rid of the diarrhoea but it wasn’t as much, you know, it didn’t go on for as long. And another thing that I would always come up against was huge clots. So every month I’d have these quite big clots, blood clots as well that would be coming away. And when I tried to go to more of an alkaline rich diet, I really noticed that my clots had lessened, although my pain was still horrific. It was horrific for a day and a half instead of three days. And I was just noticing all these differences. And then when I did decide to go back on the meat and I just went straight, I didn’t implement it slowly, I just went straight back to meat every other day. That period, there was a massive difference and then I think it was a light bulb moment for me of, wow I think that the meat that I’ve just been eating, all the acidic, fizzy drinks, the really high acidic diet that I was having was contributing to how my period pain level and diarrhoea and clots was affected that month.

So I went backwards and forwards, I did a lot of trial and error, so I came back off the meat, I just ate fish and really rich diets and green vegetables again and I noticed the difference and the change. And then I did another month of eating meat again because I’m one of these people that I just had to double check, double confirm. I always want confirmation; I knew I was sure that that’s what had happened to me. So I just wanted to implement the meats back in again, just to be sure. And it definitely was for me, a massive factor.

And then I suppose we get to the skin, which is the largest organ of the body. And my big passion, which has always been the skin. I’ve always been a lover of making my own essential oil creams and lotions since probably about the age of 10, and I just started to look into CBD and how that might be able to help me. I was having a lot of people talk to me about how they use CBD to help with their period pains at that time of the month, it didn’t get rid of their pain, it wasn’t a cure for their pain but what they noticed is that it was putting back a layer, a couple of layers was going back so you could feel that that ache was being dulled a layer or so. And I, of course, had my own CBD cannabinoid skincare business, you know, but because I was too busy running the business and trying to get everyone else to try and use it, I just kind of forgot about myself. I was already using CBD for my hormonal outbreaks and my crazy skin that I’ve always dealt with, which I think was a knock on effect from obviously adenomyosis and all the hormonal imbalances that was going on in my endocrine system and I was blown away how much it was really taking the redness and inflammation out of my spots and that was great but it was only when I started really upping my intake of using it, so applying the skincare oils to my stomach and applying them to the bottom of my back during my monthly cycle. But then I do this now, you know, that’s something that I do every other day when I get out of the bath. I love to apply the oils all over my skin. And what I learned was, CBD will never get rid of my pain because of the pain that I experienced, it’s just too horrendous. But what it does do, is it gives me a coping mechanism to not have them three days in bed, it kind of dulls that pain slightly that I’m able to do the school run, I’m able to walk the dog, I can get up today, I don’t have to stay in bed and do the rocking motion thing that I’d have to do when I was in pain.

I have to be really careful how I do say and word it because I see a lot that CBD will help period pain, but it’s not as easy as that. It’s really your food, your diet; it’s all the balances within your internal system of your body. And CBD is a cannabinoid that is also found in the cannabis plants and when it’s found in the cannabis plants, it’s called a phytocannabinoid but we actually make our own CBD in our own body, which is called an endocannabinoid. So implementing these CBD skincare oils on my skin, it interacts with these cannabinoid receptors and as going back to what I said before, the endocannabinoid system is all about creating homeostasis and balance amongst the internal systems of the body. And when you really dig deep and look into it, it’s really heavily linked with the endocrine system. So I was just like another light bulb moment, “how silly are you? You know, you’ve had a CBD cannabinoid business since early 2016.” I established the business, but I’ve been working and formulating at home for a long time before then. So I just really started to up my intake and just start to use the balm when I wash my face in the morning, I put my CBD skincare oil on my face and then I’d use my balm on my lips and then I’d apply on my stomach, I’d apply on my boobs, I’d apply on my lower back, and it got into a habit of me doing that every day and just waiting for when that period comes, keeping a diary, engaging how I felt, what is the pain level like this month? What is my thrush like? What is my blood flow and clots like?

And it was really just a trial and error and going backwards and forwards to find out what works for me and I’m happy to say that I’m in a position now where I still get pain, I can feel it coming about a week before, I even get ovulation pain, I can feel what side my egg is ovulating from, I’m so in tune now with my body. It’s brilliant the difference here now in 2020 to where I was in 2017, worrying about how I could even run a business, you know and now I’m really pleased. I mean as I said, I get pain but nothing like I was experiencing.

Le’Nise: You said that it was all about trial and error and figuring out what works best for you and I think that’s a really important message because there is no one size fits all in terms of solving period problems, solving hormonal issues and, you know, cutting out meat worked really well for you and for some women adding in a bit of meat is really beneficial. So I love that you’ve said that it is trial and error and you just wanted to make double sure that what you were doing was working for you. So you said it’s been like night and day, what you’re experiencing now compared to what you were experiencing in 2017. So if you could go back and have a chat with the woman who was rushed to A&E with the breakthrough pain, what would you say to her?

Shiona: Well, I suppose the first thing I’d say is you’re not dying, because honestly, that day I just felt like there was a moment where it was just so awful, I just didn’t know what was going on, I was so worried and obviously being a mum and having young children. So I think the first thing I’d say to her is you’re okay, you’re not dying, you know, we’re going to get through this.

And the second thing I’d say to her is to just really take some time out for yourself. I think the biggest lesson I’ve learned from all of this is that I just wasn’t paying attention to myself. I was always looking after others, I was always looking into as I said, I might look into my dad’s health, looking into my nan’s health or my mum’s health, or my friend’s health, or my children’s health. I just saw myself as the person that just got up every day and had to get on with everything. So I think the big important message that I’d say to me back in 2017 is just really take the time to look into your body and how you’re feeling. Horrific period pain isn’t normal, you know, having full on diarrhoea for two, three days every month whilst you’re bleeding isn’t normal, projectile vomiting every month with periods is not normal. It was always in the back of my head that when it starts to get really bad towards the end of the diarrhoea and the projectile vomiting right up to my diagnosis, the symptoms did get worse. I suppose I’d just say that all those things are not normal and that you just need to take time and looking after yourself and tapping into what works for you and yes, doing trial and error, I mean, it takes time, you’re not going to work out in a week how you’re going to fix your ailments. I’m still learning now, you know.

Le’Nise: So tell us about where we can find your CBD brand Graces. If someone is listening to this and your story and how you’ve used these CBD oils and lotions, how can they tap into that for themselves?

Shiona: Well, of course, reach out to me, because as I said, it’s really difficult being Graces London and being a female CEO of a business. I’m not of the wellness therapeutic skincare business; I’m not allowed to make any medicinal claims. So it’s really difficult for me to say go and buy my CBD skincare oils, it’s going to help with your period pain or period ailments, that’s not what I’m saying and I definitely want to just put that out there now.

What I would say is get in contact with me because I’d love to send you a sample to try for yourself. When I notice that the CBD skincare oils, I was using them for skincare, when I noticed that I started to implement them by putting them onto my lower abdomen, my lower back and puts them onto my sore breasts and it was really starting to help. I had to reach out to women and find out if the same would happen to them, one of the companies that I reached out to was a company called OHNE and the reason I reached out to OHNE is because they are an organic tampon brand. And I thought, you know, I’ve used this CBD skincare oil and it’s really helped my periods but I make these products, I formulate these products, I don’t want to be seen going, “Try my products, it’s going to help with this”, you know? So we got in contact with OHNE because they create organic tampons. So who is the best person to go to that’s going to have loads of women that are on their period, and we’d be able to tap into that?

So I just started to put the oils out to a lot of women and we have a feedback group here in my community that I put the oils out to as well. So this wasn’t just me that it was working for, I had to be sure that this was something that was actually working for others as well. And you’re right, it doesn’t work the same way for everybody. One thing I will definitely say is the endocannabinoid system that CBD and cannabinoids fit into is like our fingerprint; it’s so completely unique to us. So that will go the same for our hormones, the levels of everything in our bodies and we’re going to being incredibly different.

So one thing I would say is get in contact me, I’d love to send you a 1ml sample of oil for you to try it, in particular for your period pain. And secondly, all of our stuff and a lot of information is online at www.graceslondon.com and please feel free to just contact me, it’s myself and my partner Jason, who run the business. We called it Graces London, after our two lovely children because the family surname is actually Grace and we have two children so we called it Graces, plural. But yeah, I hope that’s all okay and I haven’t blabbed too much, but yeah, I want to put that out there to just get in contact with me. I’d love to send you out a sample to try; your feedback means everything to me.

Le’Nise: That’s brilliant. That’s such a generous offer. Thank you so much for coming on the show, Shiona. If listeners want to find out more about you, they can go to your website www.graceslondon.com.

Shiona: That’s correct. 

Le’Nise: What is your Instagram handle?

Shiona: It’s @Graceslondon.

Le’Nise: Brilliant. Get in touch with Shiona to find out more about CBD and if you want a free sample, get in touch with her for that. So thank you so much for coming on the show.

Shiona: Thank you so much for having me. It’s been great.

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