Pharmacist Lara Ecroyd talks to Saša Janković about combining clinical knowledge with her work as an Ayurvedic Practitioner to help women with endometriosis.

Service type: Ayurveda for pain management

Name and location: Lara Ayurveda, Clapham, London

Name of pharmacist: Lara Ecroyd

When did you start offering this service? In 2020

Why did you start offering this service?

I had been working as a hospital pharmacist for five years while also training as an Ayurvedic practitioner. I noticed I seemed to be seeing a lot of women in hospital who were suffering from endometriosis but as a result of the pandemic they were finding it increasingly difficult to access support and surgery.

Endometriosis can make women feel powerless, isolated and controlled by debilitating symptoms. Treatments such as surgery, pain relief and hormones don't always provide adequate symptom relief and side effects can limit their use. I want women to know there are other options and ways in which they can feel more themselves, so in October 2020 I left the hospital to focus on my Ayurvedic practice to offer women who have a confirmed or suspected diagnosis of endometriosis a natural and holistic approach to symptom management.

Being a pharmacist makes me very clear on language so would never say I can cure or reverse their endometriosis, but it is possible to achieve remission and pain-free periods.

How much did it cost to set up the service?

I set up the business during the pandemic and work remotely so there are no premises costs, but the training costs were significant.

What, if any, training did you or other team members have to undergo?

I trained for two and a half years while working as a locum in hospital, with training including clinic and practical days with real patients. Ayurveda is not regulated in the UK so anyone can call themselves a practitioner, but I am certified with the Ayurvedic Institute, and I've done endometriosis-specific training with The Women’s Health Institute, as well as working with pharmacy career coach Komal George, who helped me plan how to make this a viable business.

It’s easy to do one training and say you’re a practitioner but I want to be constantly learning, and my next step is to go to India to work in a hospital and gain even more experience.

In a nutshell, what does the service involve?

I offer women a 12-week one-to-one programme to help them take control of their symptoms.

We start with an initial 75 minute in-depth consultation that will cover all aspects of their health including medical history, symptoms, medications, supplements, diet, lifestyle, stress and routines, with four further follow up sessions at two to three week intervals.

This enables me to give them tailored nutrition advice based on their Ayurvedic ‘constitution’ and functional medicine principles, along with personalised herbal medicine blends, supplement and recipe suggestions, lifestyle recommendations and advice on Traditional Eastern Medicine practices such as meditations, mindful practices and breath work (pranayama).

If the person agrees, I can also send a written report to their GP to discuss progress and any ongoing recommendations. I don’t take on anyone who hasn’t already had their symptoms investigated, so I do also get some referrals from private gynaecologists and can reflect back to them if the patient wants that.

Are there any opportunities to sell OTC or prescription products during or after the consultation?

The personalised herbal medicine blends which may include powders, tablets and external oils, are sent to the patient after consultation and throughout the 12-week program.

How have patients responded to the service?

Patients report greatly reduced pelvic pain and very manageable periods. Some have started to exercise again from not being able to move at all, and I have one client who now runs. Some women have had this condition for 20 years and are keen to keep working together after the 12 weeks, as they have seen such a dramatic improvements after the three months.

Roughly how often each month do you carry out the service?

I try to limit it to six or seven clients at a time so I can dedicate the research and planning time needed. I reassess them every two weeks and change their plan in response to how they are doing.

How much do you charge for the service?

I do a free discovery call for half an hour and then the price is based on individual need.

Would you recommend offering this service to other contractors?

Definitely – I think it’s so important to raise awareness of endometriosis, especially as no one is too young to have it.

The holistic approach of Ayurveda offers women suffering from endometriosis with the strategies, time and support required for the body to heal.