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Meet Jade Walker: Redefining Endometriosis Care

Interviews

Jade Walker, a passionate naturopath, is reshaping the landscape of endometriosis care. With a Bachelor of Health Science and a drive for holistic wellness, Jade is dedicated to empowering individuals with endometriosis to reclaim their health.

Name: Jade Walker
Pronouns: she/her
Day job: Naturopath & Director of Health and Wellbeing for Hey Sister!
Location: Geelong, VIC
Flow: medium
Length: 4 days

 

Tell us a bit about your work?

I’m an accredited Naturopath (Bachelor of Health Science) with a focus in endometriosis. I’ve dedicated my life’s work to helping people reduce symptoms and gain better quality of life through content and my online course The Endo Care Collective. Upon my never-ending search for things that work, this is also what led me on to getting involved with Hey Sister! as their Director of Health and Wellbeing.

 

Tell us more about Hey Sister!

Hey Sister! is a world-first natural period pain relief product that uses a herb called Khaya senegalensis. Based on the findings of our clinical case studies and hundreds of testimonials, it’s changing the game in better-quality period care. Hey Sister!’s tree plantation in northern WA is also sustainable. The bark is harvested from the tree in a regenerative way, meaning it grows back again, and no trees are chopped down.

 

What are some endometriosis misconceptions?

We get quite frustrated when the wrong definition is used, leading to incorrect treatments. For example, many still use the outdated definition that endometriosis is when the endometrium (uterine lining) grows outside the uterus. This also stems from the outdated theory that endometriosis is caused by retrograde menstruation. From our latest understanding, neither of these is correct. Instead, endometriosis is an inflammatory condition marked by lesions that can grow almost anywhere in the body.

Endometriosis cells are similar to the endometrium but are not the same. Whilst endo is more commonly associated with the reproductive organs, it can also be found in the bowel, diaphragm, brain, and more. These lesions can continue to thicken and cause adhesions, sticking organs together like the ovaries to the bowel. It can range in severity, meaning everyone’s experience is different. One person may be at stage 1 with severe pain, while someone could be at stage 4 with no pain. For some people, it will impact fertility, while others may easily conceive. This is why hormonal medications, pregnancy, and hysterectomies do not cure endometriosis.

 

What’s your top endo lifestyle or dietary tweaks?

I’d see all kinds of responses from different strategies. However, as a consensus, most people do better without the A1 casein protein (found in cow’s dairy). Some people may also feel better on a gluten-free diet, but it’s important to consider that it may not necessarily be gluten; instead, it could be fructus, which is a type of FODMAP. This could be a clue that we must work on gut health and consider treating conditions like SIBO. Most of my endo clients would find significant relief once they worked on their gut health.

I think it’s also paramount to see a pelvic floor physio or osteo as they have further training in supporting an overactive pelvic floor, which is a by-product of years of pain with endo. An overactive pelvic floor will worsen pelvic pain, pain with sex, constipation, and incomplete bladder emptying. The new Australian app Matilda has great resources and videos to support this at home.

 

What can exacerbate endometriosis symptoms?

Typically, ovulation and the period are most painful. For some, the pain may be worse right before the bleeding starts. This depends on where the endo is located (as well as whether they also have adenomyosis). Furthermore, we now understand that histamine can play a role in making pain worse, and histamine peaks when estrogen peaks, which is right before ovulation and our bleeding.

 

What’s your take on the following treatments:

  • The contraceptive pill: Generally speaking, the pill suppresses our reproductive hormones, so we don’t get a period, and even the bleed you have with the sugar pills is still not a true period; it’s a breakthrough bleed. By switching off these most painful events, one may experience relief. But the pill doesn’t stop endometriosis from growing nor treat it.
  • Zoladex: Zoladex belongs to a class of medications called GNRH-agonists (I have a great podcast on the Jade Walker Way with Katie Boyce, who explains these). In short, they put you into chemically induced menopause. Once again, it’s a symptomatic relief at best but comes with a barrage of side effects (such as the risk of bone mineral density loss due to shutting down estrogen). We now also have another class called GNRH-antagonists, which were supposed to be slightly better than the agonists, but unfortunately still don’t address the problem and still only provide short-term symptomatic relief along with side effects. At the end of the day, the best first-line approach is high-quality excision surgery, along with a multi-modality care team.
  • Tranexamic Acid: Also known as TXA, this is prescribed for heavy bleeding (AKA menorrhagia). TXA is warranted in some situations as a short-term approach. But I’m always questioning further: have they been investigated for adenomyosis, fibroids, and polyps? Could they have a blood clotting disorder such as Von Willebrand disease? Could they have an underactive thyroid? Adenomyosis is still highly underdiagnosed, and I’ve known many people to be diagnosed with endometriosis years before someone picked up their adenomyosis.


Thoughts on pregnancy “fixing” endometriosis?

This is a very outdated view and understanding of what endometriosis is, but unfortunately, it still gets said to many patients. Given endo is not a hormonal disease and is not limited to the reproductive organs, pregnancy won’t cure endo. Furthermore, it’s an ironic thing to say when many people can’t fall pregnant due to the endo itself. Many people find their endo symptoms are the same post-partum or sometimes even worse.

 

Why is gut health so important to someone with endo?

We know the microbiome has a direct impact on almost every aspect of our health, and there are studies demonstrating how it plays a role in endo. From its role in inflammation to its role in estrogen, it can impact endo in many ways. Many people with endo experience IBS, which SIBO or IMO can often cause, an overgrowth of organisms in the small intestine. This will cause excessive bloating, diarrhea and/or constipation. Many people who say they have endo belly may indeed have SIBO or IMO (SIBO causes diarrhea while IMO causes constipation).

Naturopath Jade Walker

What is your take on traditional pain meds for period pain?

I’m the first to say they have their place. Right up until before I went through IVF, I still depended on naproxen. However, over the years of using natural approaches, I greatly reduced my dependence on them, thus sparing my gut health and other side effects from them. The most common class of period pain meds include NSAIDs - nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs such as naproxen, ibuprofen, and diclofenac. While they help with the pain, they also reduce gastric mucous secretions, which can lead to causing stomach ulcers.

 

What is your preferred pain management approach?

Everyone’s case is different, but my favourite combination is usually Hey Sister! with a product called PEA (stands for Palmitoylethanolamide) and a good TENS machine. Bear in mind that our PEA levels become deficient over the years of being in pain, so it can take time to build up and start becoming effective.

 

What - and where - are endocrine-disrupting chemicals?

Unfortunately, we’re exposed to EDCs in multiple ways, and these can wreak havoc on our hormones - especially estrogen. EDCs can be found in beauty, cleaning, plastics, pesticides, new cars, fabrics, perfumes, and more. These EDCs bind to our hormonal receptors, exerting unfavorable effects. There’s a reason why perfumes are banned during IVF procedures. It’s non-negotiable for me to avoid EDCs wherever possible, especially avoiding drinking from and heating plastic due to phthalates (yes, even BPA-free).

 

MY CYCLE

On day 1 you can find me: Working from bed (let’s make a new term: WFB).

My period in 3-words: On unmanaged endo days: “Hell on earth”. Now: “Not so bad”.

What does period self-care look like for you? It's just going super easy. I take the path of least resistance for those first few days. Eat whatever I want to make me feel good and let everyone know so they don’t expect much from me.

Do you have a period self-care toolkit? Hey Sister! and my heat pack is all I need these days. Also, try ginger tea for nausea, bloating, and pain, as well as chocolate (obvs!).

Best period hacks: Hey Sister! and period underwear (the Scarlet Period Bikini Brief!). Seriously how were these only invented in recent times!

Contraception method of choice: Cycle tracking and condoms baby!

 

You can follow Naturopath Jade Walker on Instagram, check out her much-loved Hey Sister! brand , and read more insights from her on her website.

 

Medical Disclaimer: This blog is for information purposes and is not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice and should not be relied on as health or personal advice. Always consult a healthcare provider or a qualified medical expert for concerns or questions regarding your own health.

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