Where did the idea of MPowder come from?
Well - the motivation was entirely selfish! I was 45 when I entered peri-menopause. Night sweats. Heightened anxiety about stuff I used to do relatively confidently in the past. Alot of anger. Bloating. 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 my symptoms were most likely to be burn-out or depression.
I knew I wasn't depressed. And although life was hard (when isn't it?!), I didn't think I was experiencing burn-out either. Something else was happening. And it was impacting my body and mind. I simply didn't feel like me.
I'm a researcher and planner by trade. So I did the thing I always do when I want to solve something. I went deep. I learned that most of us start our peri-menopause transition from around the age of 43 (and for around 10% of us, it is even earlier). I read about the myriad symptoms connected to this life-stage and how how long it takes women to receive support. I look at the research that exists around the lifestyle changes, medical interventions and mindset shifts that can help us 'meno-well'.
And then I headed to my local health food store to see what supplements were available.
Those shelves were confusing AND depressing. The women depicted on pack were frail, tired - and always hot! They seemed to target 'end of life' rather than mid-life! The blends felt like blunt instruments at best - few catered for the distinct bio-chemical stages our bodies go through. At the time of my search I could find just one brand targeting the peri-menopause specifically. Many use herbal components that clinical trials had 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 relied heavily on synthetic low grade sources that the body simply doesn’t absorb well.
I wanted a solution that was focused on optimising my body. I wanted products that were based on clinical insight. I wanted to see the results of trials with real women from all walks of life.
I also wanted honesty rather than the promise of a silver bullet.
I started in early 2019 in my kitchen, dehydrating fruit and vegetables and blending them into a powder that would deliver the nutritional hit my body needed. I started to layer on the lifestyle changes I knew were gaining traction and scientific support.
And I began to feel better. I worked with a medical and naturopathic team to get recipes into community trials. I consulted on the value of HRT and how smart supplementation can make it work harder. I collaborated with menopause experts across multiple complimentary fields too. From CBT to CBD. From breathwork practitioners to executive career coaches. And slowly MPowder took shape. Today we are a community that co-creates products and complimentary programmes to nourish the body and mind in menopause and beyond.
Why do you think the menopause is so poorly supported?
The truth is there is very little robust research on menopause. In the UK, female reproductive health receives just 2% of government medical research funding each year. And innovation is hard when female-focused business ventures receive a fraction of VC investment too.
Then you layer on the lack of education across society about this life-stage. Our generation was not taught about menopause at school. Doctors receive around 4 hours of training on the topic. And only 20% of post-grad gynaecological syllabuses in the US cove the topic - and these people are supposed to be the specialists!
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. 75% of those are currently 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.
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 other issue with a lack of research into this life-stage is that it can lead to a blanket dismissal of solutions that do work. We get fatigued and - quite rightly (!) - frustrated by the snake oil solutions that look to capitalise on the lack of options and we miss the good stuff.
And we miss the purpose-driven brands that don't have the pharmaceutical weight to commission clinical trials but have loyal customers who have seen their lives transformed. The practitioners delivering real value on a one-on-one basis everyday, using techniques handed down through generations because they make a difference.
The fact is that women need to make more noise; to demand research investment, to agitate for greater choice and society-wide education. But we also need to listen to each other. To learn from those ahead of us on their journeys. We need to be open to a whole body and mind approach.
What does MPowder hope to achieve as a business?
We want to build out a range of products and programmes that are driven by the wants and needs of our community.
At the heart of our offering we have 3 core boost recipes which are born from trial data, the experience of our expert team and feedback from our community. Each pouch we sell comes with a free symptom tracking service too which means we're continually reviewing results and refining recipes to deliver greater impact.
Around 60% of our community take our blends alongside HRT. But some members of our community use our supplements to provide a nutritional foundation and then look to complimentary practices to further support their bodies and minds. Our menopause journeys are as unique as our fingerprints. And we are here for everybody.
We also work with our community to build out expert programmes that provide additional tools. Together we explore the lifestyle interventions that can deliver big change. We share. We learn. And we iterate.
In terms of our future, our goal is to work as a collective body of women in midlife to reframe menopause. Every experience is different. And some experiences are truly traumatic. But we have seen, first hand, what women are capable of with the right support around them - quite simply, everything!