In 2010, I heard the world “endometriosis” for the first time. The only things “my that time doctor” told me about endometriosis were that “it does not have a cure”, “at least it is not cancer” and “all you could do is to take birth control pills” (which I couldn’t tolerate, but he still didn’t want to believe me).
Therefore, I started to research on my own. I am not sure if it was that particular year or a little while afterwards I found the group and the website of a woman named Melissa Turner. She was also a patient with endometriosis and also passionate about researching, trying, experimenting and “telling the whole world about her journey”.
I read all her articles in one night and tried to implement her advice here and there to see how I felt. I joined her Facebook group and I started to ask questions about endometriosis diet, comment, read everything and assimilate everything like a sponge.
At that point, I think I somehow realized that this was the way to go: researching, reading what others did and trying on yourself. In this endometriosis journey, no matter the surgeon, the naturopathic doctor, the endocrinologist etc., the truth is it all depends on you.
Many of the things I know now I owe to her, to Melissa. I am sure many endometriosis naturopaths from Romania, but not only, have been inspired by her work. I want to publicly thank her for all her work, projects, articles, comments because in this way not only has she inspired us all, but also gave us a direction. A direction towards healing or to better manage our endometriosis.
Melissa Turner has gone through a long journey with endometriosis, years of research. She studies Natural Medicine and manages her stage 4 endometriosis completely naturally. That is why I wanted so much to have an interview with her, on The Healthy Journal, because she may be “patient 0”, “patient-researcher 0” and I am sure you will find her words not only inspiring, but also very useful in your journey with endometriosis.
1). Marina Rasnoveanu: Melissa, you are one of the first women who started to write about endometriosis. I know you founded a website and a Facebook group many years ago, places where I have been too and from where I extracted the first information about this disease, endometriosis diet and other details like that. In 2010, when I first heard about it, endometriosis was a mystery not only for patients, but also for doctors. Tell us more about your journey with endometriosis, why did you feel the need to write about it and what the website and the Facebook group mean for you right now?
Melissa Turner: I started to write to have a place where to capture the information easily; it was almost like a journal of my journey. I wanted to share that journey and I didn’t really expect to get a lot of followers, or didn’t really realize people would read it until a couple of years later.
Initially, I wrote every day because it was my journey, something that I was exploring, tried different methods, techniques, supplements – and you can still read those on the website. Therefore, the website was a way of exploration for women who want to try a natural approach.
Of course, the website has advanced a lot since these humble beginnings: now there are online programs, which contain a lot more knowledge and are relevant to a particular symptom. I support women within these programs and I have combined my years of experience, knowledge gained from my studies and knowledge gained from other naturopaths and experts.
I set up the Facebook group because I wanted a way to communicate with women; I wanted a way to understand what other women were going through and to be a little bit of a support for them. It also gave me deeper understanding about what worked for others and not necessarily myself. I also wanted to be a beacon of hope for women. To say “Look, here’s somebody who has achieved what I want to achieve, somebody who is living pain and symptoms free” and I wanted to be that beacon of hope for them.
I don’t have the Facebook group anymore because it turned out to be a lot of work, I wasn’t really seeing the same energy in that space and felt like I was policing the space too much - it just got too big. We now have a new private platform as well, is called “Mobilize” and, of course, the website, www.endoempowered.com.
2). How a woman (who has just been diagnosed) with endometriosis can “use” your website, programs or Facebook group?
Melissa Turner: You can join my website, there is a free downloadable that will give you a guide of where to start using my REACH Technique©, I send you weekly emails with articles, some direction, some inspiration, a little bit about myself and my journey.
If you wish, you can sign up to some of my programs. I have a more basic set of programs which gives you specific base solutions so if you are struggling with cysts, there’s a program for that, if you are struggling with pain, there’s a program for that.
If however, you want more support or you want to be in a group setting where you have other women who have gone through the same stuff, get motivated, connect with me, I have got a specific program for that too.
3). The endometriosis patients are always between “the doctor’s recommendation” (which is the most important, undoubtedly) and what our body “tells us”. Besides the surgeries that need to be done (as it was my case), birth control pills and other hormonal treatments are sometimes not well tolerated by all patients (also my case). What would you advise such an endometriosis patient, are there ways, real ways in which she can handle her disease, what is your opinion about it?
Melissa Turner: I am not a fan of most of the options presented by conventional approaches, so I am not a fan of surgeries, of hormonal treatments, and I am certainly not a fan of taking pain killers, hoping this will make everything go away.
These things don’t look at the reason; don’t resolve the imbalances that are within the body, they are just suppressing the symptoms
Surgery is sometimes required, but surgery can bring its own risks. Within every surgery you create inflammation in the body, and you create adhesions in the body. If you do any kind of research, you will see that adhesions are a trigger for pain and that is why a woman who has repeated endometriosis surgeries often end up with a lot of pain, because basically all the organs start to be restricted in that space because of those adhesions.
So I do get those scenarios where surgeries are the only way. However, I have also seen amazing things happen. I have seen women who literally had an ovary stuck to the bowel and was able to release that naturally. I have also been through 7 surgeries and none of those helped me and I have seen cases with women who managed to heal themselves, being pain free without surgeries. Of course, I have also seen cases of women who had such severe endometriosis that they had no other option but surgery.
My recommendation would be: first do no harm, first try everything else before going for surgery. Let’s look at the ways we could reduce that inflammatory response, reduce that pain naturally, see what might be triggering that response, why your body creates those adhesions in the first place.
I had a recent case where the woman was advised to have a full hysterectomy and now she is pregnant. It is possible, but it is so easy to dismiss, to lose faith and not have a lot of hope around endometriosis. This is the whole reason for doing this work – because I have seen all that and know what the human body is capable of.
4). What was the most important thing you did for yourself in order to be well with endometriosis, to live “at peace” with it?
Melissa Turner: I think for me it was that I wanted to be guided towards healing, to put behind that push or perfectionism and just to allow it to unfold as it did. I started to listen to my body and to let go of the drive for perfectionism and to trust in my body and its ability to heal. I have noticed an interesting correlation between women who have endometriosis and the perfectionism desire.
So, allow yourself to trust that your body does know and then you will be guided towards healing. This guidance can be religious or not, depending on your own views of the world, but it is more about trusting and believing. The answers are out there… you just have to find them and trust them and implement them as your body is ready.
5). We will let aside doctors, surgeries, medical treatments (not much “our area”) and I will ask you like this: diet, endometriosis diet, supplements, sport, no stress, no xenoestrogens – which one(s) are the most important in managing endometriosis long term? I know that in an “ideal world”, the answer would be “all of them”, but a woman who has limited financial possibilities, work, family, every day worries, what should she choose or with what to start?
Melissa Turner: I find it hard to answer this question because for me a holistic approach is about providing the perfect environment for healing. That perfect environment is based on each person and what they have been through and are experiencing.
For instance if a woman eats a perfectly organic diet but is completely stressed out, then she is actually not doing anything positive for her healing. No matter how much wonderful food she eats, she will not heal. Healing is something the body does. We just need to provide it with all the “tools” it needs to do so. These tools come in the form of nutrition, movement, mindset shifts and cleansing - as per my REACH Technique©.
For me, the questions should be broader.. what is the environment that currently surrounds you? in terms of nourishment? thinking? how you move your body? in terms of what toxins you might have been exposed to and how can you provide an environment for healing within that context?
If you are financially strained, then do not let that strain be a factor for not being able to cope with endometriosis. Do not let that strain stop you from creating the perfect environment you need for healing. It is possible. We just need to trust and believe that we will find a way forward. Our thoughts play a massive part within this healing journey.
6). What is your opinion about a gluten, dairy, sugar free diet, about endometriosis diet? Should we add something on the list for endometriosis patients?
Melissa Turner: I get that “yes, we want to avoid those”, but I think there is a problem here in terms of avoidance. Firstly, an avoidance mind-set is not good, it’s coming from a restrictive mindset and endometriosis patients already feel restricted in so many ways.
Instead, what I would like to look at is why we want to avoid these foods and understand that they trigger an inflammatory response.
More importantly is what we should eat in order to support our bodies. How are you nourishing your body?
I had clients who said “ok, I can’t have gluten, dairy, sugar.” so they went to find all those fake replacements (like gluten free breads or fake cheese) and those things can often be worse for you from a nutritious point of view.
So a bigger and more important question is “how you are nourishing yourself for your body to allow yourself to heal”?
Are you truly maximising nourishment, rather than just avoiding inflammation?
7). Tell us a quick, easy and healthy recipe you do for yourself in order to feel energized, well, and happy to start a brand new day? (and of course, it is also good in endometriosis)
Melissa Turner: Actually, these days, smoothie bowls are my current favourite food. It's one of the easiest ways to put a lot of nourishment into my breakfast. I use a banana, blueberries, mushroom powder, or cocoa powder, actually various powders that add healthy elements into the mix, and for toppings I would use granola, seeds, maybe some fruit.
8). What are your plans for the future – personal, but mainly, professionally, in this road with endometriosis?
Melissa Turner: I really want to write a book, this is my next goal, but as you might know at this stage I am completing my Naturopathy Degree, so the book thing won’t happen for a little while yet.
I would like to speak around the world about my experience and how a woman can get better because I think more women need to hear that. And ultimately just reach more women, find women who are open to my approach and want to learn about this approach and want to find a natural way to better deal with their endometriosis.
I think the current treatments are not great, and there are a lot of women who experience immediate side-effects and really terrible long-term side-effects.
When I hear about women committing suicide I can really understand why this might happen as there is so little hope provided for these women. So, my goal is really to shine a light as much as possible and to be that ray of hope for them.
If you want to read Melissa’s articles, endometriosis diet or enrol to her programs, you can do all these on her website, www.endoempowered.com.