Interview with Rebekah Brown, Founder, MPowder.Where did the idea of MPowder come from?
Well - the motivation was entirely selfish! I am 45 and well and truly in the peri-menopause. Night sweats. Heightened anxiety about stuff I used to do relatively confidently in the past. Alot of anger. Oh, and a nice dose of random skin breakouts. I visited my doctor and was told I was too young to be menopausal and that the best solution would be to visit my local health store and try a herbal remedy.
Those shelves were both confusing and depressing. For a start, few brands actually tailor their vitamin and herbal supplements to the 3 recognised bio-chemical stages of the menopause so the blends on offer are blunt instruments at best. At the time of my search I could find just one brand targeting the peri-menopause specifically. Many use herbal components that clinical trials have shown categorically not to work. Others use such low dosages of vitamins and minerals that they are unlikely to achieve the results seen in trials. Most rely heavily on synthetic low grade sources that the body simply doesn’t absorb well.
And the brands on display made me sad. They seemed to target end of life rather than a natural phase of life! I am not ready to lie down and give up yet. I believe that the menopause can be incredibly empowering as well as incredibly difficult. I wanted a solution that was focused on optimising my body. I wanted products that were based on clinical insight. I wanted a natural aid to transition me through each stage. I wanted the products to be kind to my body as well as the environment. And there simply wasn’t anything there.
As I looked further into the menopause, I discovered that there is a whole body of evidence around the efficacy of plant food and botanicals in addressing core symptoms. Why weren’t these ingredients being harnessed for use? I also discovered that the menopause itself is experienced in very different ways across cultures - and that scientists attribute this largely to diet. So I naively decided to make what I couldn’t find.
I started in early 2019 in my kitchen, dehydrating raw organic fruit and vegetables and blending them into a powder that would deliver the nutritional hit my body needed. It tasted terrible. But I began to feel better. I knew that, for me to include something daily - and for a long period of time, any solution needed to taste good as it did good. So I began a journey to develop a range of nutritional, vegan, plant based powders that could fit simply into the daily routine of life. I’ve worked with taste makers and nutritionists to refine those early recipes into the product range we have today.
Why do you think the menopause is so poorly supported?
I was shocked to find that the only NHS-approved treatment for the menopause is HRT. And, within the EU, there are no herbal, vitamin or botanical sources that can legally assert their ability to address menopausal symptoms. Products can talk about ‘bone density’ or ‘cardiovascular health’ but there hasn’t been the investment in research to be able to talk directly to consumers about a life-stage that 51% of the population goes through.
75% of women with menopausal symptoms visit the doctor for help. 80% are turned away with nothing and effectively self medicate in the aisles of their local pharmacy. Some stuff may work. But a lot of it doesn’t.
This means that the direct experiences of women are leaking out of the system. Doctors don’t even have the anecdotal evidence to guide us. So we struggle alone - or seek advice from each other.
Researching and finding solutions to address menopausal symptoms and bio-chemical needs isn’t easy. Clinics are understandably nervous of testing fertile women so many promising ingredients fail to get beyond petri-dishes. Establishing a subject base where impact can be decoupled from lifestyle factors is challenging. But it is not impossible. Just look at the growth - pun intended! - of the erectile dysfunction sector. The fact is that women need to make more noise; to demand a better range of solutions. We hope to amplify those voices at MPowder.
What does MPowder hope to achieve as a business?
We want to build out a range of products that are honest. Our 3 core boost recipes are born from trial data; but we’re very aware that more research into the potential of plant food is needed. As more insight comes to market it is likely our recipes will evolve.
We’d love to deliver a range that is entirely organic one day too. The reality is that some of our ingredients are too difficult to source but we continue to challenge our growers. Demand is a powerful commercial influencer on finding solutions.
As important to us though, is to build a knowledge hub that can inform women as well as the medical profession. By inviting women to share their experiences we hope to be able to track the changes that help ‘the change’; from lifestyle shifts to supplements.
Finally, we hope to reframe the menopause. Every experience is different. And some experiences are truly traumatic. But the message we want to convey is that changes can make a significant impact. MPowder isn’t the silver bullet. But we hope it is a strong foundation; a springboard that allows women to use this life-stage to take better care of themselves, to get to know themselves better, and to evaluate what phase 2 of life will look like.