Body Literacy, Menstrual Health, and Natural Medicine with Chelsea Leyland
Ep 23

Body Literacy, Menstrual Health, and Natural Medicine with Chelsea Leyland

Episode Summary: 

It’s a beautiful time to be in conversation with my friend and new mother, Chelsea Leyland. Chelsea is the co-founder of the menstrual health and wellness company, Looni, and is an epilepsy and endometriosis plant medicine advocate and activist. In this episode, we chat about her journey with two chronic conditions, natural forms of healing, and the necessity of body literacy throughout the healthcare system. 

Show Notes:

It’s a beautiful time to be in conversation with my friend and new mother, Chelsea Leyland. Chelsea is the co-founder of the menstrual health and wellness company, Looni, and is an epilepsy and endometriosis plant medicine advocate and activist. In this episode, we chat about her journey with two chronic conditions, natural forms of healing, and the necessity of body literacy throughout the healthcare system.

When there’s no education alongside information, how can informed decisions be made? Chelsea shares her experience with juvenile myoclonic epilepsy and how she found cannabidiol to help ease her pain and symptoms. After a later-in-life endometriosis diagnosis, Chelsea began to navigate ways to find healing and ease her pain. Chelsea and I discuss our connection to pain, allopathic vs. naturopathic forms of healing, and how having a “healing toolbox” is powerful for supporting and honoring both our menstrual cycles and the cycles throughout life. 

We can all take steps toward a more holistic, nurturing approach to our bodies, starting with grounding practices to help regulate the nervous system and bring inflammation down. Chelsea believes that education allows us to demand better policies. Because we deserve better. And we deserve awareness and change. 

This is a beautiful conversation about finding personal forms of healing and sharing those findings as an advocate for a healthier, more aware world.

Listen to the episode on Apple Podcasts, Spotify, or on your favorite podcast platform. 

Topics Covered:

  • How Chelsea’s endometriosis story began with epilepsy
  • Chelsea’s life-changing experience with cannabinoids
  • Chelsea’s activism and a documentary alongside her sister
  • Why it took 10 years to diagnose Chelsea with endometriosis 
  • How endometriosis responds to natural medicine and stress management
  • Chelsea’s opinion of and connection to pain
  • The power of an open mind around healing  
  • Looni’s first year in the menstrual health and wellness space 

Resources Mentioned:

Guest Info: 

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Show Transcript

Tonya Papanikolov  00:04

Hi, welcome to the Rainbo podcast. I'm your host, Tonya Papanikolov. Rainbo and I are on a mission to upgrade humanity with fungi and expand the collective conscious. This podcast builds a virtual mycelial network of bold, open minded thinkers and seekers. I chat with experts thought leaders, healers, scientists, entrepreneurs, spiritual teachers, activists and dreamers. These are stories of healing human potential and expansion. Tune in route in expand and journey with us.


Tonya Papanikolov  00:46

Hi, everyone, we have Chelsea Leyland with us today. Chelsea is a friend of mine and the proud co- founder of Looni which is a new menstrual health and wellness company on a mission to elevate the menstrual cycle and democratize body literacy, offering support through education and innovative science backed products. Chelsea has been invited to speak across the globe about her experience with epilepsy, medical cannabis and her focus on patient access, including at the European Parliament and Cambridge University, and more recently on her navigation of endometriosis, pregnancy losses and reproductive health. Previously, she spent over 10 years DJing and curating music for fashion and art clients globally, including Chanel, Fendi, the Guggenheim Museum, the MoMA as well as opening for Duran Duran and Diplo Chelsea's super passionate about building community. And with the power of vulnerability being central to her ethos, Chelsea started numerous close knit advocacy groups, facilitating personal support for individuals going through challenging experiences with epilepsy, endometriosis, and fertility struggles, in a combination of her passions. Chelsea just launched Looney which I just mentioned. And they're offering some really beautiful products for mood and PMS and Hormonal Health. And I'm just really excited to share this conversation with you. Today, it is days before Chelsea gave birth. And she's now had a very beautiful and healthy baby. And we chat a lot about everything menstrual health, you know, endometriosis, her journey, and it is a beautiful conversation that will we'll dive right into. Okay, hi. Hello, Chelsea.


Chelsea Leyland  02:53

Hi, Tonya, how are you?


Tonya Papanikolov  02:55

I'm doing really well. How are you?


Chelsea Leyland  02:58

I'm good. Thank you. Good. 


Tonya Papanikolov  03:00

I always get really excited to chat with pregnant women. Because I think it's like, we're always so powerful. But you just have like double the life force right now that you're holding and carrying. And that is just absolutely wild, wild miracle. So how do you feel like right now you're so close to your due date.


Chelsea Leyland  03:20

I feel all the fields. But it is I mean, it's funny because that you say that because I was for a long time have been somebody that has been very drawn to pregnant women. And there's something really magical about it, I guess you're just very embodied. It does make you feel very grounded. But I also think when you're around other pregnant women, when you're not pregnant, you sort of feel that you've been forced. But I've had a wonderful pregnancy. Honestly, I have no complaints. I've been really lucky. And I've really enjoyed being pregnant. It's been one of the most beautiful times for me. And now I am starting to feel, you know, I really feel like an animal. I'm so pregnant right now that I just did something about. I don't feel like human. I just keep saying that. I feel like a cow. That could be the spirit animal that I'm channeling. And by the way, I love cows so that.


Tonya Papanikolov  04:17

Cows Cows are sacred. They are sacred


Chelsea Leyland  04:20

and it's so beautiful. But you know what, you just see a big pregnant cow and you sort of look really uncomfortable like in pain, but you're also just wow. That's how I feel.


Tonya Papanikolov  04:31

I feel like that's really helps me feel what you're feeling right now. And that's really amazing to hear. Actually, I want to back up just for a moment. I like to start all the episodes by just sharing something that we're grateful for. So what are you grateful for today?


Chelsea Leyland  04:47

I am grateful to be this far along in my pregnancy. I had a really tough time getting here multiple pregnancy losses due to my endometriosis. I know we'll go into that within the podcasts. So I really you know, people talk about it being a miracle. But for me really and truly is very much a miracle because I wasn't gonna get here. So a lot of gratitude to just be where I'm at today.


Tonya Papanikolov  05:12

I wanted to ask you about that how that must, how that must feel. Having gone through just this process and offering that hope to others who are in it to, but thank you for sharing, and I'm grateful for the sun today as like, shining into my bedroom. And just winter. I've been living on the island as you know, it's been pretty rainy. So it is just like a spring energy. It's such a perfect time for you to be like literally giving birth and I feel that in our surroundings in nature, and it's just always never fails to amaze me that like every year it comes and we're all like, ah, like it's it has such a big effect.


Chelsea Leyland  05:56

It does is such a fresh like upbeat, powerful, springy energy. And I'm feeling that as well. I'm seeing the blossom come out on the trees in New York right now. It's just like the best time of the year because it's like, the dark clouds just start left and you're like Hello, world.


Tonya Papanikolov  06:13

Oh, I love those cherry blossom trees. Well, yeah, I mean, I want to chat about quite a few things with you today, I want to hear I want to hear about your journey, which I know has led you to Looni hear what you're building and the incredible products that you're offering. I mean, I know when we when you and I first connected, we were just like, friends I remember like sitting on my bedroom floor like chatting with you for an hour, just like getting to know each other. And


Chelsea Leyland  06:38

I think I slightly stalked you.


Tonya Papanikolov  06:41

Okay, so I love that I found you.


Chelsea Leyland  06:44

I think I saw an interview with you. And I thought you were wonderful. And so I think I was like, I need to meet her. And so I met this year on Instagram. I was like, can we reach out?


Tonya Papanikolov  06:53

Yeah. It was like in 2020, I think probably 2019. Or somewhere in there. But so grateful you reached out and yeah, I mean, I know you have been on such a wild journey. I know that you have experienced endometriosis and this like beautiful healing and where do we start? I mean, any anything you can offer us even in terms of just like the background info on on this kind of state that I know. Is it like over 10% of women experience this?


Chelsea Leyland  07:27

Yeah, I mean, you know, I think even backing up like one step further for me in terms of like healing journey and where this all began. I mean, first of all, like, I'm a DJ, I'm a founder. And I'm also a epilepsy, endometriosis plant medicine advocate, activist. And I think even prior to the kind of my my journey with endometriosis, it really for me started with epilepsy, which is another chronic condition that I suffer from. And I have a type of epilepsy called juvenile myoclonic epilepsy. So it doesn't really start to show symptoms until you're in your teenage years. And so for me, that's something that about the age of 13. And until that moment, until I started experiencing those those symptoms, and then seizures. I was cognitively healthy or both. So I thought that had grown up with an older sister who had a very severe form of epilepsy, totally different type to the type that I experienced. So sickness has always been something that has been very much present for me in my family, and was a real fright when I was diagnosed with this same condition that had really helped so much heavy weight within my family. And I was put on a cocktail of pharmaceutical drugs to try to quell my seizures. And I was very, very fortunate that around seven years ago, now, I had the life changing opportunity to try cannabinoids from the cannabis plant. 


Chelsea Leyland  08:56

And so, you know, I really think for me, that was, was the first step to a very transformative journey, I was able to wean off all of my pharmaceuticals and ultimately ended up finding a type of medicine that was more effective and efficacious for me than the medicine that I had been taking for a large portion of my life. And I still use cannabis to treat my seizures. And I still touch word remains seizure free. So that for me was really just like this first. You know, it's hard to articulate something that has that much of an impact. But I think for me, this trust that was suddenly put back into me, we can find answers ourselves, and there's always more healing to be done and just kind of how it's presented to us in allopathic medicine, I think and really where I started to discover more alternative medicine and other forms of healing that really came from within and from myself from from nature rather than And what had been recommended to me so, and it was also helping with a lot of other symptoms like anxiety and sleep. So that's kind of where it began for me. And I became quite vocal about my experience with cannabinoids and epilepsy, I'd been somebody and as a DJ that hadn't really spoken much about my epilepsy for many years. And really decided to kind of step into that kind of more advocate role and really build community and, and so there was just a lot of different things that were happening there that just allowed me to embody a different version of myself.


Tonya Papanikolov  10:36

Yeah. And that was that was all about seven years ago. 


Chelsea Leyland  10:41

Yeah, that was about seven years ago.


Tonya Papanikolov  10:44

Was it a specific cannabinoid? Like, was it oil or just like, could you get enough via like inhalation or smoking or anything like that? Or was it a specific?


Chelsea Leyland  10:54

so I was using or in terms of sort of what I'm using. So CBD being the main cannabinoid, I was trying to use a full spectrum product, meaning that it has other minor cannabinoids present as well. And really, you're using the whole plant, rather than just an isolated molecule. You're familiar with this given given your work. So it's really a full spectrum CBD. And then I also use a one to one ratio. So that's an equal part of CBD to THC, which for me has a very balancing effect, and also helps with kind of sleep and sort of downright regulating my nervous system. But, you know, whenever I talk about cannabis as a medicine, I think it's important to say that it is a medicine and that it's not a panacea, and it's not a one size fits all. So I know a lot of other people with epilepsy, even with the same kind of epilepsy as myself that, unfortunately, haven't had the same effects. Yeah, you know, in the same way that a pharmaceutical might work well, for some people, you might be using, even just like ibuprofen to treat something, and it works well for some, and it doesn't work well for others. 


Chelsea Leyland  12:03

So that's why I also say that, you know, I was very, very fortunate to have the experience that I had. So I started really dedicating a lot of my life, I think, to raising, raising awareness, starting this conversation around epilepsy and medical cannabis, and fighting for my sister to gain access. And my sister's based in the UK, she lives in full time care. And even though we have a change in legislation in the UK, the policies but unfortunately still present mean that there's no access within our public public health care system. So I became very much like involved in you know, that was the kind of activism that I was really, really fighting for fair and safe patient access, and a lot of that was rooted in my sister's situation, and she has daily seizures. So her epilepsy is much more severe than my own. So we started working on a documentary that has been, you know, a four year project, we finally finished it. And this documentary is focused on epilepsy, exploring the landscape of medical cannabis and patient access. As I was making this documentary along the way, I noticed that my endometriosis was improving. And you sort of asked me a bit about Andrew before. And there was a chronic condition.


Tonya Papanikolov  13:19

When did you realize that you had that? Yes. So


Chelsea Leyland  13:22

I was diagnosed with Endo, I waited 10 years to receive a diagnosis for my endometriosis.


Tonya Papanikolov  13:29

Wow. Wow. Why is that the case?


Chelsea Leyland  13:33

It's a great question. And unfortunately, you know, when I connect with other endo patients, it's really this is just the norm. And it shouldn't be the norm. But you know, you hear that and you're like, Wow, 20 years to receive a diagnosis. I grew up in in the UK, I think similarly, in Canada, you have a public healthcare system, don't you? So very, very privileged to have a really fantastic health care system. You know, I also have a lot of privileges as a Caucasian woman. And the fact that I waited 10 years really sort of makes you think, Well, you know, how are the communities being affected how people outside of the UK being affected, I mean, in the US where you don't have a public health care system, it's really terrifying. The main reasons, I'm sure you know, this, but women weren't required to be in clinical trials until 1983. So we've been excluded from a lot of medical research, which means that the solutions and the diagnosis processes is just really broken and outdated. 


Chelsea Leyland  14:38

And, you know, this is a condition that that affects women and those with female reproductive systems. There's a lot of medical misogyny, and gender bias within the medical system. So unfortunately, there's just years of these problems. And now we are where we are where we're taking 10 years to diagnose people. And we've normalized Pain for for women, which is a big problem, too. It's people think that their periods should be painful, you know, we can go on to talk about that. But that's a big problem when we shouldn't be in pain periods shouldn't be painful. We shouldn't be covered in acne, we shouldn't be, our moods shouldn't be so low that we feel like we can't get out of bed like these are all indications that something is up. So I think it's very multi layered dogs for your


Tonya Papanikolov  15:28

multi layered it's so true. I remember looking at him, I was reading some some studies about like EMFs, just like electromagnetic radiation and frequencies and how it affects people differently. And basically, like, all of the research that has been done has been done on men that are like, basically six foot two, and 190 pounds. And they just kind of lump women into this big category of like, take extra caution if you're pregnant. And it's just absolutely mind boggling that there's such large generalizations of body structure of just physiology that are being made across every single disease or just even study.


Chelsea Leyland  16:15

I know, it's, it's really, it's really holding us back. I mean, I think of something like intermittent fasting. Well, the research has been done on men, and actually, you know, in terms of, you know, our constitution is so different. And such a delicate balance of hormones in the way I look, endocrine systems work, you know, having these monthly cycles rather than these daily cycles, and it just doesn't add up.


Tonya Papanikolov  16:39

Yeah, yeah. It's it's so funny. It's like, we are where there's like layers of complexity with us and and our cyclical nature. And those. Yeah, that's, that's hard. Those are hard variables to control and science.


Chelsea Leyland  16:54

Yeah, it's very true. We are beautifully complex beings, certainly


Tonya Papanikolov  16:59



Chelsea Leyland  17:01

But, you know, I eventually, I eventually got a diagnosis. And my symptoms were, were pretty debilitating. I spent years and years in in agony, around my menstrual cycle, pain during ovulation, pain during intercourse, horrific pain, during menses, as well, I mean, I would be vomiting, I would pass out from the pain. This just became my norm really. And I repeatedly went to my general practitioner and my OB GYN and, you know, explained that I was experiencing these horrific periods. And I just felt like I was always kind of met with the same response, which was quite dismissive. You know, I was told repeatedly that I should take the birth control pill. And then if I took the birth control, and synthetic hormones, that by suppressing my period, I would then not experience the pain. And I was thought of made to feel, as a sort of, I was made to feel that I was ignorant, because I didn't want to take synthetic hormones. And, you know, it's important to say that I am not demonizing the birth control pill in any way, it serves a fantastic purpose. It's just when it's used for non contraceptive reasons, in this kind of blanket way that that just solves everything. You know, that's, that's what we mean, it really, I think, have a problem with it shouldn't be used for everything under the sun,


Tonya Papanikolov  18:33

and like Band-Aid solutions, that are just like solutions. Let's just get these symptoms managed, and not ask big questions. It actually makes me feel like a literal fire and boiling of my blood, because it's just so messed up.


Chelsea Leyland  18:50

It really is. And it's like, we haven't been armed with the education the information to make informed decisions and that it goes even that that layer deeper of that fiery anger. You know, if you go to a dodgy and you trust them, and they're saying to you, okay, well, if you suppress, I mean, obviously, they're not even articulating it in that way. But, you know, in essence, you suppress your period, you won't experience symptoms, so you're going to think, okay, great. That makes a lot of sense, right. And we've been also taught that our periods are dirty and that they're inconvenient. You know, there's, there's a lot of negative, yeah, that negative energy around our menstrual cycles. So we haven't really been taught that they really are this like lifeforce and this power. 


Chelsea Leyland  19:39

And so you know, I think no wonder most people make that decision to say, okay, great, I'll take it but to your point, you know, Band Aid is exactly what it is because if you have endometriosis or PCOS or Dino meiosis, yes, okay. You might not experience the symptoms while you're on it. But what happens when you come off it? You decide that you Just want to experience your body without synthetic hormones or you want to try for a baby or whatever it might be, those symptoms will creep on back and those issues will be there. So that's why looking to TCM, traditional Chinese medicine or, or just I Vedic medicine are really like, looking at these philosophies that just allow us to go to the root, I think is is just such a better approach. But eventually, after an hour, I was taken to hospital numerous times. And it was always the same, the same kind of response, like these are just painful periods. And, you know, encouraged, as they say, to take birth control, I took a lot of painkillers that wreaked havoc on my gut, caused a lot of other issues. And eventually, my OB said, we could do a laparoscopic procedure, which is, you know, fairly invasive. It's like a keyhole procedure. And see if you have this condition called endometriosis. And if you do will do excision surgery, and lo and behold, I had endometriosis. Wow. And that was sort of, you know, a new chapter of where it began a relief to get a diagnosis. Because I kind of feel like you're going crazy.


Tonya Papanikolov  21:10

100%. And one of the amazing things about Endo, to the extent that I know is that it responds so well to natural medicine. So that's so exciting for people to hear that there's so much in their control, and a lot of different avenues that they can approach it with. Right?


Chelsea Leyland  21:26

Yeah, and it's an inflammatory condition. So I think it's like the control piece that you mentioned, is important, because it's, there is so much that we can do, albeit challenging, and much harder work, whether it's around on nutrition, and starting on an anti inflammatory diet, whether you know, being conscious of of stress and cortisol and how that really spikes our inflammation. So it's not an overnight fix. And it's not a total fix, you know, in terms of where I'm sitting, I mean, the cannabinoid piece comes in, because, you know, as I said, I started treating my epilepsy with cannabis. And I noticed a big improvement in my Endo. And I started to think, maybe this has to do with age, maybe my hormones are sort of beginning to recalibrate, and at the time, was working on this documentary, and was seeing some interesting research coming out of Israel, specifically on cannabidiol, CBD, and as an electrolysis, and so it was this light bulb and my thought, hmm, maybe there's a correlation there. And so I started increasing my dosage. This was, you know, totally experimenting, and I was getting sent a lot of products because I'd been so vocal across social media, and I was getting to experiment and try a lot of tests and try a lot of different products. And I started using cannabinoids intro vaginally in the form of a suppository. And honestly, that, for me was such a game changer. And I'd say really, the relief that I found in combination with working really hard on my nutrition, working really hard on stress management really starting to, to use other different botanicals and start to like, go deeper with understanding my natural rhythm, educating myself on the four phases of the menstrual cycle, learning to move my body in different ways around different phases. There was a lot that I was learning and open to but it really, really helped. And, you know, I would be lying if I said that I'm pain free today. And I don't need to take anything else. I still take usually I go poking around my periods. But it's just so different compared to how it used to be and wow, that's big.


Tonya Papanikolov  23:36

Yeah. That's so, so big. What are your thoughts on pain? Generally?


Chelsea Leyland  23:41

That's a great question. In your experience, and


Tonya Papanikolov  23:44

there's been some research I've been looking into around kind of just the immune system and the nervous system, kind of being in a fight or flight state and in a state where it's coming to expect pain, and some really incredible tools like hypnosis and things like this that allow us to, you know, I don't know, I don't know if I could possibly say transcend it, but it to some extent, you know, really start to figure out what that what that is like, I think the pain is it's an absence of messenger. It's, it's a signal from the body serving its purpose, but you've been so like, so intimately connected with it. But is it to you?


Chelsea Leyland  24:26

It's a really great question. Particularly, I think, given where I'm at now with being you know, a couple of weeks away from from giving birth and really starting to think about pain and what that is because I think we all have different pain thresholds, right. But then our experience of pain must be different as well and we must experience different levels of pain. I think. Obviously, the relationship between the breath and pain is is an incredible one. I think that's it Well, it starts right, though, you know, learning to breathe, than having a mindfulness practice, I think is incredibly important if we are somebody that experiences, pain, chronic pain, and it's, it's challenging because, you know, there are moments where we feel that we can have control over it. There are moments where, well, we shouldn't really think that we have control over it, because we don't, right. 


Chelsea Leyland  25:30

So it's, it's having control over our breath that allows us to move through it. I've been reading a little bit about Hypno birthing as well, because I'm preparing for the birth now and really just wanting to think through like the pain of I mean, I'm sort of hoping to because of all my years and well equipped, but it's so subjective pain, isn't it? It's, I don't know that I have a clear and super articulate answer, I think I'm trying to figure it out, I've got a lot of questions around it, I would love to feel like I had mastered it. Or that I had managed to really work through extreme pain with just my breath, I would like to think of, and we talk about this a lot at lunians it's about having a toolbox, isn't it? What's in my toolbox, you know, and for me, when I think about my menstrual cycles, it's if you choose, if you choose to kind of experience all of the phases, all of the feelings, all of the discomfort, and you have to you have to have a pretty, pretty big toolbox. So you know, there's a lot of things that you can do not just when you're in that moment of pain, but you know, outside of that. So for me, that's like having a do a lot of yoga, having that, that mindfulness practice, really trying to have the awareness of where I'm at in my cycle is really helpful. So cycle thinking, that allows you to create, I think, a little more space and a little bit be a little softer and have more fun.


Tonya Papanikolov  27:05

Yay. Yay, I love that. I have I have mine on my fridge. I brought it out for this. I love this. I love so much. It's so, so helpful for women and menstruating folks to just kind of look and you have to you have to explain what it is. Okay, so I have in every I don't know if it's an every loony order, but definitely in the first order. There's this amazing postcard that gets sent and I just ripped it off. So it's a little postcard that I have on my fridge that explains the four phases of menstruation or I guess of our cycle. Yeah. What is that? Right? Like?


Chelsea Leyland  27:44

Yeah, yeah, sort of four phases of a cycle, using seasons as the as the symbols to break down the phases.


Tonya Papanikolov  27:51

Yes. And then it breaks it into kind of menstruation, the follicular phase, which I am currently in, which is spring. So winter menstruation spring is the follicular phase. Summer is around ovulation. And then fall is the luteal phase. And just like such beautiful has suggestions for food, movement and life. And I think there's no doubt that there are like confines in this world that we exist in, which is a largely, it's a construct of a lot of years of patriarchy, there's no doubt about that. And I think there's just a lot of like a constant pressure for women to fit into that box. And as I started practicing more yoga, and actually just learning about women's philosophies within Kundalini yoga, and just how sacred and revered the woman is, it was so wildly life changing for me to learn these things, because I was like, that's how I feel, why doesn't everybody also celebrate that and as a culture, like, why aren't we doing that. And it also just gave me such permission to be like, today is this way and tomorrow will be a slightly different way. And there are just like true and deep ebbs and flows of how we cycle through even feeling a connection with the moon, seeing that seeing those shape cycles shift every single month and being like, oh, maybe that's why I've felt so connected to this celestial body. It's, it's a beautiful ability for women and in the kind of lineage that I practice in. It's kind of like there's all of these centers of the body as well, that can be stimulated and aroused. Like the cheeks, the back of the neck, the nipples the clitoris, like you know whether like some of that sexual some of its not, but it's like it's just so my world started to really change and life started to really change when I could see that like nature reflected in me and me reflecting in nature a little bit more and tools like this are I feel like everybody needs one of these on their fridge to give yourself permission.


Chelsea Leyland  29:58

I love that you put it on your fridge because That was very much the intention for it. But it's, you raise a lot of interesting points. And I think, for me and for Looni, it really starts with and to have, you know that, that awareness and as you say, like, have you gained so much positivity right from from this way of thinking, and this way of understanding that I think the foundation of that is being exposed to that information, some people don't have the ability to find it as easily, because of, you know, the background or their culture. And I think we're starting from a place like a knowledge like, kind of body dataset, right? As women. And so I have some gratitude for from coming from a very sort of, like, open liberal family, I was always encouraged to do my own research and find my own information. And I grew up with homeopathy, and my mother was a garden designer and worked with flowers. And so I was really exposed to that from a young age, but I think there's so many people that aren't, and then have this fear of perhaps more alternative ways of thinking, right? That, to us might be normal. It's like, safer to trust the physician in the white coat, like that feels safer. 


Chelsea Leyland  31:24

And so I think, you know, what my journey taught me. And again, you know, I, I never want to demonize pharmaceuticals or allopathic medicine or, you know, modern medicine. I mean, I'm, I'm about to give birth, and I'm very much aware of having birth preferences, rather than the birth plan, because you just never know what's going to happen. And, yes, my dream is to have a certain type of birth, I would love to have a drug free. You know, I'd love to give birth naturally. But we never know what our path is, and how we're going to bring life into this world. And so I think there's always a place for modern medicine, I know a lot of friends that you know how to have a C section or brushed in and, and so I think it's just like taking a more holistic view, and sort of being open to both. But from from my journey, you know, first with epilepsy, I felt very let down by allopathic medicine, I had, you know, was put on a lot of medication with a lot of side effects, I continue to have seizures that never felt that the doctors heard me when I came in with my side effects and felt, you know, very, very low, very anxious was suffering with a lot of insomnia, there was no room for kind of looking at my quality of life, it was just about quieting my seizures. 


Chelsea Leyland  32:40

And then with my Endo, in all my time, there was no one ever told me, you know, what is your nutrition? Like? How you eating? What are your stress levels? Like, what are you doing to practice, you know, bringing another system down. So I think that's where I kind of that was my launching pad into Hunter medicine, which was very, very powerful. And so I think, you know, all that to say it's, it's, can we have more of an open, you know, an open mind when it comes to healing and go back to the toolbox, because it's not just, you know, Looni is a menstrual health and wellness company, we have developed one product, which the supplements to support low mood, and that's the product that we currently have in market, which is a supplement, we have two products that are on the way also everything we do is catering towards indications the menstrual cycle, but you know, we'd sit here and say, We're just another tool in the toolbox. You know, it's not, we are going to solve all of your issues around your menstrual cycle, it's, it's no, we are trying to encourage body literacy. So we can bring tools like cycle awareness, like we were just talking about understanding of four phases of the menstrual cycle, there's so much power in that. 


Chelsea Leyland  33:52

And, you know, as you say, learning each day that it's not going to be the same, and having some forgiveness and not trying to fit ourselves into that patriarchal system, right, which is very masculine energy. It works if you have a daily cycle, where each day sort of looks the same. It doesn't work where we have these monthly cycles and these four phases. So I'll always come back to the education you know, these are the tools that we should be teaching men Streeters in school from an early age, like we should be empowering people with this information, so that they can then make more informed choices about whether or not they want to suppress their cycle or not, and how they can work with it. In a really beautiful and positive way. It doesn't have to be all shame and negativity. There is so much power and understanding why we might feel more creative at a certain time in our cycle, how we might work differently with with team members and work on projects. So there's just like, there's so much magic to it.


Tonya Papanikolov  34:55

There's so much yeah. Is there like a specific routine you to follow or, you know, to somebody who, somebody who doesn't have an yet an odd diagnosis with Endo, and maybe they are in a lot of pain around their periods. And, you know, I think that inflammation piece, we know that that's such a big contributor to pain in terms of what we're eating and stress levels and everything that you mentioned, is there something that you've done some sort of routine protocol that you've followed specifically, like, I know, like, you know, tumeric can really help balancing the immune system can really help things like this, or even just like pointing somebody in the direction if they if they haven't gotten a diagnosis, like tips, you would suggest for them looking into estrogen or anything along those lines? Yeah,


Chelsea Leyland  35:43

There's a lot that can be done. I think finding a physician or practitioner to work with that has more of an integrative approach, I think is really important. You can have that that more kind of holistic approach to your care. And I think acupuncture is is incredibly effective for blood flow for information for helping to balance our hormones. I know it's not accessible to everyone because it is, especially in the US is incredibly expensive. But I think if you can see an acupuncturist and or herbalist as well, that's a great way to support yourself. There's a book by Alisa Vitti called Women code. I think that's an incredible resource to really understand your Afridi and rhythm, which he coined this term, which really talks about the four phases that you just articulated so beautifully, and how we can support ourselves nutritionally, like based on where we're at, you know, a few things to be mindful of with inflammation. And the delicate balance of estrogen, as well, is things like coffee and caffeine can really spike our cortisol as well as sugar, you know, again, very inflammatory, though, it's difficult because it can be very overwhelming for people to sort of clean up their diet. But if you can just start I think always with just little small moves, baby steps and choosing if you're somebody that says, Okay, I really, really can't give up coffee. Well, you know, can you replace your coffee for a matcher, three days a week and maybe decaffeinated coffee, you know, there are, I think experimenting, you know, bringing things out, bring things in gluten as well is a big one.


Tonya Papanikolov  37:36

With coffee, even just having a meal before you drink, right? Like having grounding first and not letting them speak empty stomach. Empty Stomach. Yeah, blood sugar, and poof. And I


Chelsea Leyland  37:49

Think, you know, take as you say, a meal, but waking up and having a hot water, lemon not having your coffee. First thing, can you wait an hour? Can you wait three. And I think so much of it is about body listening. You know, a lot of I think what we have not been taught as women is to tap into our intuition, like, that is so powerful. And I think a lot of the time when you have a chronic illness, that gets sort of stripped away from me quite quickly, because you do lose faith. And I know what it feels like when I was diagnosed in my teenage years with epilepsy, like I felt, I felt so let down by my body that took me years to build that strength back that kind of spiritual, emotional, physical strength back, I really felt like my body, you know, I would just have seizures, they would just come up out of nowhere. And I felt like, I couldn't make sense of them. You know, sometimes they could I could say I was particularly stressed and tired at that moment. But other times, they would say, I did I have that seizure last Monday, when I know that I've been much more tired than that and stressed before, like, trying to figure those things out was really challenging. So I think I come back to intuition. 


Chelsea Leyland  38:58

Because when I think about the menstrual cycle, again, something that we focus on at learning like movement, for example. You know, I used to be that person that would run like five miles three days before my bleed, and really berate myself that I didn't do a good job, that I have to stop a lot, but I couldn't maybe complete the five miles because I was so tired. And I look back on now. And it's just so mind boggling to me because, of course I couldn't run five miles successfully. I was three days prior to my menses. And actually, that was a time for rest, and something more restorative and nourishing to the body. And actually something that my body was really craving. You know, like, intuitively, I was feeling like, you know, either you want to kind of like lie on the couch and just chill or something like a half an hour stretch on the mat would feel much more grounding and relaxing. 


Chelsea Leyland  39:56

And giving yourself permission again, it's coming into that more feminine energy Right, rather than just like output output output, it's like how do I nourish myself and receive hate that envy? Yeah, and receive. And so I think that, for me has also been a huge one. And I think if you're somebody that experiences pain around your period, like, start listening to your body, you know, like, find some great information like a nice ivities book, like, that's really great. We have a lot of great information at Looni, as well. Documenting on our online community, which sits in Geneva, we talk a lot about cycle thinking, cycle awareness, but just giving yourself permission to sort of say, Wait, maybe I actually know what feels good for me. I think that that's, that's a big one. And so yeah, I mean, there's a lot that we can do. But I think starting with, with kind of educating yourself on the four phases of the cycle, looking at your nutrition and trying to clean it up there. Can you get some acupuncture? Can you start working with a few different botanicals to help really bring that inflammation down? Sleep? Is everything, starting a mindfulness practice, yoga, or daily meditation?


Tonya Papanikolov  41:05

Like just walk? Right, like going to the park? Putting your feet on the earth? can be simple stuff to going into? Yeah, like any, any greenlit successful, will do the trick, right.


Chelsea Leyland  41:20

I love that. Yeah. And I think also, a lot of the time with specific illnesses, too, is, you know, there's very much our body is keeping that score of some past trauma, or it's an opportunity for deeper healing. You know, sometimes we just focus on the top layer, which is like, what are my symptoms, but I think there's a lot that we can do in terms of really going back to where did this all begin, you know, and sort of trying to help me kind of go into those deeper wounds and heal them. And also sometimes, you know, because I feel like I'm just chucked out a lot of information. I can imagine someone listening to this. Okay, wait, so I gotta give up coffee, alcohol, sugar, and stuff. Like, this sounds really boring. You know, sometimes I like to just say that, as you've just pointed out, nature being a big one, right? Even if it's like 20 minutes, and you can just get out of the house on the day away from your screen and just put down and nourish yourself that way. But also, having a bath, I think is the most like underrated gift from Gods.


Tonya Papanikolov  42:25

You You're talking to like a bath or I'm obsessed. So my obsessed. Oh, and yeah, go I mean, I don't know if you want to go here, but sorry, let's I'm gonna go there after but I want to hear your bath story.


Chelsea Leyland  42:40

Well, my boss story is very simple. I mean, I have always loved bath. But I think when I moved to New York, because space and not having the most like stunning bathroom, sort of showers become more convenient. And when I really started to kind of go into this or more deeply, in terms of like how to take better care of myself, particularly in lead up to my periods. Bathing is just, I mean, it became so obvious that it were really helping bring the nervous system down. It's just such a nice gift that you can give to yourself. Again, I know that not everyone has a bath. During this pregnancy, I've honestly tried to have a bath almost every night, it's we can't always get like a massage or something like that. But this is just really like, I think it allows us to connect with just a whole different side of ourselves and feel supported by the water. And you can use different essential oils to help bring you down and just turning down the lights. Like it's just a really nice gift to give to ourselves. And I think it's incredibly effective when it comes to managing some of these, these menstrual symptoms that we experience.


Tonya Papanikolov  43:54

Totally, like crawling into a bath and Epsom salt lavender bath on the first day of your cycle. It's like a water. Yeah, so good.


Chelsea Leyland  44:08

And it brings us back to like the feeling in the womb, a feeling where the water supports us. I really feel that connection now that I you know, having having my own carrying my own baby, who's obviously sitting in water and the amniotic fluid. And then when I'm then lying in the bath, it's it's really powerful. Yeah, and it's quick and easy and cheap. So it's a really powerful gift that we can give to ourselves. And I think there's a reason that bathing feels so good and that we've Yeah, it's a age old. Yeah,


Tonya Papanikolov  44:44

absolutely. Totally. It's so cool to think about like that. We just started as these aquatic organisms that like haven't even taken a breath yet.


Chelsea Leyland  44:52

Yeah, it's incredible.


Tonya Papanikolov  44:56

I did want to mention one other thing about endo before we move on trends Shin to another topic, if you have a few moments, just around the piece of environmental toxins, there's a pretty strong correlation there. Is that right? So like being aware of, you know, what we're putting on our skin. And you know if anybody has access to a sauna that can be really effective at helping to move some stuff to the system.


Chelsea Leyland  45:20

Yeah, I mean, endocrine disrupting chemicals are, unfortunately, absolutely terrifying when we think about the impact that they're having on our endocrine system, not just with endometriosis, but with with our fertility, with how it can affect the baby fetuses in utero as well. They are unfortunately, present in so many products that we use on a daily basis, but trying to, again, clean up where you can, on the products that we put on our skin, to your point, the products that we wash our clothes, with our food, you know, where's our food coming from? Can we buy organic food? Where possible, they are present in just so many things that we probably don't even realize, like active wear athleisure? You know, in our car seats? Yeah. Yeah, it's terrifying. It's really terrifying. And I think I personally have to do a lot of work on like, actually trying to let some of it go, because it can cause a lot of anxiety. So, you know, it's, where am I going to focus my energy on because I know, I don't have control over all of it. We really need policies to change. That's what we need, especially with like PFS, and these forever chemicals, that, that just stay in the environment. You know, I know that they are sort of tightening up Regulations now meaning like in New York, just in terms of like, you know, the legal kind of safe requirement in like water. I mean, there's that was just, like, terrifying as well, how they're present and how water and but I think it's being as mindful as we can to our exposure. But I think, yeah, skincare that you're using is, is really important. That's


Tonya Papanikolov  47:07

at least a conscious choice that we can shift to an extent.


Chelsea Leyland  47:13

Yeah, and I think food also, yeah, you know, trying to focus on eating whole foods and not eating processed foods and, and just be mindful of where your food comes from. You know, there are, I think food is challenging from a cost perspective, because buying organic is so much more expensive. I think, when it comes to the products that we put on our skin, there are ways of doing it more cheaply. It doesn't have to be really expensive, organic, clean skincare, we can buy a good quality oil that we can use on our skin and you know, an avocado or or an olive oil, or whatever it might be, and just finding a brand that you trust, you know where they're sourcing it from, I think it's important for us to educate ourselves so that we can demand better policies, because that's where it starts, right? It really is gonna start from putting pressure on policymakers that we deserve better. And again, if you look at the rising wealth, I mean, I could talk about this topic for too long, but I think baby steps and making small changes and having that awareness.


Tonya Papanikolov  48:19

Okay, I wanted to chat a bit more about Loony, and just hear how the journey has been going. It's been about about a year.


Chelsea Leyland  48:28

Right? Well, we launched in July.


Tonya Papanikolov  48:32

Okay, almost not quite, almost not quite. So how can you tell us a bit about your product? You mentioned, it's mood balancing? I would love to hear about your first year.


Chelsea Leyland  48:44

Yeah, well, it's very exciting. We're still fairly new. Looni and menstrual health and wellness company, obviously comes from this very, very personal experience with my own menstrual cycle. It's my co founder and myself. She has also suffered tremendously with her cycles doesn't have a chronic condition, but very much relates to, you know, needing to lay on the street, in doubled over in pain from her menstrual cycles. And I think so many of us can relate to suffering with our cycles. So we have one product in market, which is our mood supplement. And we initially started with mood because after conducting consumer research that actually came out as the most prevalent menstrual symptom, which was actually very interesting, because if you'd asked me a number of years ago, I would have thought it was actually menstrual pain. And our supplement is a blend of adaptogen nootropics, vitamins and minerals. And we're very proud to be you know, we talk about really needing all of our products being researched back to everything's clinically formulated. 


Chelsea Leyland  49:53

We've taken a lot of care in terms of building out our medical advisory board so I spend a lot of the Getting about having this holistic approach. And I think given my own experience, it was really important to have that Western meats, Eastern approach that more integrative approach, because it's not as sort of binary as like your, you know, pharma or wellness, it's what we felt was missing was you're either on the woowoo wellness side, or your sort of had to be on the pharma side. And we sort of thought, Well, why can't we use a lot of these beautifully botanically derived ingredients? Why can't we create a wellness product, but also make sure that we are research backed, and so we brought together a team of advisors, we've got urologist, OBGYN physician specializing in hormone optimization, you've got a pelvic pain specialist. And so we spent a long time almost two years, bringing this product to market focused on research and development. 


Chelsea Leyland  50:50

We've conducted third party research to prove safety and efficacy of this product. And our goal really, in the next stage for us would be to conduct a clinical trial, which is really the gold standard of research, again, so that we can just provide consumers with that data so that they can feel confident and feel that trust in using our products. And also, we're the consumers, right? I mean, we came from a place of I was using a lot of different products. And they're technically derived ingredients that were really effective at the beginning of my journey. But a lot of these products, I didn't know where the ingredients are being sourced, you know, I didn't know if there was, if they were safe. And I think for us, we're still so new, we do plan on on creating a kind of open source book around all of our ingredients, so people can really understand like, where they're coming from, we've done a lot of due diligence on that. 


Chelsea Leyland  51:45

And in terms of kind of next stage Looni, we have two products in the pipeline, one that is focused on breast tenderness, and menstrual pain. And then we also have another product which has an intra vaginal, which will also be for menstrual pain. Yeah, community sets up the heart of Danny, really passionate about building community. I spent a long time building community kind of in, in the epilepsy community, but also in the Endo, and then just around fertility support, because I had such a tough time getting pregnant and losing multiple babies. And so we've built this beautiful community that sits in Geneva, which is an app. And we've built out a number of different rooms. So we have a fertility support room, we have a chronic conditions room, we have a nutrition room. And we are really, really proud of this community that we've built. It's a really special place where people are having like open and vulnerable conversations, we're doing event. There's it's just a great place to kind of come and learn and feel supported. And now we're focused on taking these events offline, and bringing them IRL. So it's yeah, it's an exciting time. There's lots of things bubbling, and we're still just, you know, a baby started.


Tonya Papanikolov  53:08

Wow, yeah, it's incredible. It's incredible what you guys have done in your first year. And I've taken the product, I had a really, really wonderful cycle, actually, when I took it. And I love. I love everything you're doing. And I hope that we will we have something in the works for July this year, potentially. So we would love to make that happen.


Chelsea Leyland  53:30

Yes, definitely. I'm excited to talk about doing something special together. We're big fans of rain bad, you know, just been a really admire and love what you're building. Likewise.


Tonya Papanikolov  53:41

Likewise, yeah, it's so nice to have just supportive supportive, like women and friends and founders in that circle, because we gotta like help each other and it's just so much. So much more exciting to grow this together and contribute to like, you know, last we'd love educating as well. Yeah. Okay, well, I am thinking about you in the baby. And yeah, just thinking just very excited and, and sending you smooth. I'm thinking I'm visualizing like, smooth, steady, strong contractions in the next two weeks for you.


Chelsea Leyland  54:22

Thank you so much. Yeah. So excited for having me on. I really appreciate it. And I'm so happy that we got to do it before before the guy comes out. You could happen any moment.


Tonya Papanikolov  54:37

Likewise, thank you so much for sharing your story and wisdom and journey.


Chelsea Leyland  54:42

Thank you, Tonya.


Tonya Papanikolov  54:45

With deep gratitude. Thanks for tuning into this episode. If you liked it, hit subscribe and leave us a review that is always very appreciated. Mushrooms transformed my mind and body. And if you're interested in bringing medicinal mushrooms into your life and health journey. Check out for our meticulously sourced Canadian fruiting body mushroom tinctures. Until next time, peace in and peace out friends.



feel, products, epilepsy, menstrual cycle, pain, endo, cannabinoids, body, people, endometriosis, seizures, cycle, symptoms, journey, experience, big, years, chelsea, women, periods