First, tell us a little bit about you, your background, your purpose - and what motivated you to start Menopoised?
My name is Jo Darling and I’m almost post-menopausal! It’s nearly a year since my last period so I’m getting ready for my 1 year ‘menoversary’.
I’m an Acupuncturist, specialising in women’s health. I mostly treat women balancing their hormones, from issues with their periods, fertility and menopause to cancer support.
I work alongside oncologists and chemotherapy nurses to support cancer patients to help reduce the side effects of chemotherapy, radiotherapy and hormonal treatment.
My cancer patients often experience immediate and intense menopause symptoms (as a side effect of their treatment) and for some, their hot flushes are so overwhelming they can’t even drive to me for treatment.
I looked around for something that I could recommend to my patients to use at home and get the same effects as seeing an acupuncturist. And what I found was nothing. At least nothing that aligned with my principles and ethos and, importantly, had been proven effective.
Perimenopausal and knocked sideways by my best friend’s cancer diagnosis I realised I the answer was right in front of me! I’d been successfully using an acupuncture protocol to reduce hot flushes and night sweats for a few years.
So that’s when I took things into my own hands and created Menopoised® and our heroine product the Menopoised Menopause Magnet. I went on to carry out research and trials to demonstrate its effectiveness (on paper) and proved it benefitted around 80% of women.
It’s a labour of love, I’ve poured all my Chinese Medicine knowledge and practise-based evidence to create something that’s effective, natural, side-effect free and beautiful to boot. Because, quite frankly why shouldn’t products for menopausal women look and feel gorgeous!
Q. How has your own menopause transition influenced your outlook towards work and life?
I’m almost post-menopausal! It’s nearly a year since my last period so I’m getting ready for my 1 year ‘menoversary’.
Four years ago I stopped drinking alcohol. It’s one of the most liberating things I’ve ever done. It’s given me back, time, relationships and a good night’s sleep. It’s seriously the best thing I could have done during perimenopause but it wasn’t because of it!
I went on HRT many years ago, having been prescribed progesterone, a little prematurely I think looking back on it. I was tired and low and this was seen as the solution. When I stopped taking it, I got terrible hot flushes and night sweats, which I hadn’t experienced before. I felt the power of my unsettled hormones right there.
My transition has been relatively smooth and natural. Around the time of my divorce and my 50th birthday I experienced horrific heat again but managed it with acupuncture.
I do experience cognitive issues and my muscles feel quite tight but I work through that with a mix of acupuncture, osteopathy, naturopathy and yoga. And I try to take things at slower speed.
I have a coach, I’ve learned to understand myself better and know what my values and drivers are. In turn this helps me recognise when I’m not being kind to myself and adapt what I’m doing.
My creativity has definitely left my womb and entered my head. I never considered myself as creative but now I find I can’t stop creating!!!!! Moderation doesn’t come naturally to me but I do have to pace myself.
Q. How do you define success for your business and yourself individually?
Success for me is wellness. I’m working on it! Success for my business is the wellness of women. I’m working on that too!
Q. Has your definition of success changed over time as an entrepreneur and individual?
Probably. The plan with menopoised has always been to change the lives of menopausal women the world over, one woman at a time! And in terms of achieving that plan it’s coming along!
In terms of what success looks like for me as a person, my younger self would probably have quantified success with money. My older self is much more interested in contentment, wellness and calm.
I had an epiphany whilst practising yoga with my best friend (she’s retraining as a Vagrasati yoga teacher now a few years clear of cancer) we were lying on our backs in her garden – I looked up saw the blue sky and thought ‘I have everything I need right here’ and that was a huge shift for me. It turns out the sky is still up there to see whether you have a massive house or a terrace in Brighton.
Q. What correlation, if any, do you see between age and ambition?
That’s such an interesting question. I think the only difference between my ambition now and my younger ambitions would be time and energy.
The decades seem to go by so quickly and in your twenties there always seems to be so much time in the future. When you’re in fifties you know that there isn’t so much time stretching before you. That’s made me a bit more conscious about my decisions.
I feel like starting a new business is like having a child. The energy you need to conceive, carry, birth and grow a child is enormous. Menopoised is definitely my last child. It’s a labour of love and an irresistible mission for me.
I’ve never put up with women being second class citizens and I’m not going to settle for that now. If that’s ambition then I’m still as ambitious as ever.
Q. What are your aspirations for your business over the next 24 months?
Menopoised is settling into the UK market very well, I’m really pleased with how we’re changing women’s lives. We have lots of requests to sell overseas so that’s definitely on the horizon.
I’m also brimming with ideas for new uses for the magnet and extending our aromatherapy range. Combining essential oils with acupuncture points is so powerful and I’m keen to roll out that work.
Q. What do you wish your younger self had known about:
For f*cks sake don’t worry! Everything will happen at the right time. My dad used to say ‘99% of the time the things you worry about won’t happen’ if only I had listened.
Mmmmm my younger self really hoped I’d find the love of my life. I’d hate to tell her that her life’s experience (to date) is that there’s no such thing. But that with awesome women by your side maybe it doesn’t matter!
Your health is your wealth. And other cliches. That you only have ‘so much’ so moderation is the key (including moderation). Taking care of how you eat, sleep, move and think for a healthy, happy life.
Believe in yourself. You’re not an imposter.
Q. What would be your key advice to women transitioning through menopause today? What practical steps could they take to better support their bodies and minds?
I love the principle of yang sheng in Chinese medicine. It translates to nourishment of life, it’s applicable at any age and very helpful through menopause. Menopoised is rooted in this ancient wisdom - that what and how you eat, sleep, move and think helps you to live well and live long.
- In Chinese medicine the spleen, kidney and liver all play a huge part in our good health. They have slightly different roles than in modern medicine. To take care of the spleen how you eat is key. The kidneys energy dwindles as we age so conserving it by not overworking or having too much sex is important. And the liver, in both ancient and modern medicine its got such a big task at menopause to help things run smoothly so it’s important to keep stress on the lowdown and avoid stuff that can over heat it such as alcohol or too much fat.
- What goes in your mouth is key. Avoid stimulants (spicy, caffeine, alcohol) and look after your liver it’s got a lot going on. Eat regularly, eat mindfully and make sure you have plenty of protein and green leafy vegetables. I’d always recommend seeing a good naturopath who can help you on your individual path. A good base layer of supplements is critical.
- Drink plenty of water, sometimes the simplest things have the biggest impact!
- Move your body in kind ways. Seemingly gentle exercise such as yoga is awesome it’s weight bearing (to help the bones), stretches the muscles (to stave off tightness) and can support cardio function too. Plus, and it’s a huge plus it’s wonderful for the mind.
- Take care of your emotions. In Chinese medicine we don’t separate the mind and the body. In fact, often, we see emotions as the precursor to illness. Stress impacts the liver as does anger and frustration, fear affects the kidneys and overthinking the spleen.
- Find a good coach to help you understand yourself better so that you can nourish your mind and look after your emotions.
Q. Is there anything else you’d like to share with the MPowder community about our second spring?
So much of our health is described in terms of nature, energy flowing like rivers to the sea, our connection to the earth and our menopause being a second spring.
In Chinese Medicine seasons are important. Spring is a time or renewal, after hibernation. It’s an energetic time that for some people can be really tough but that once it’s mastered can be hugely energising and rewarding. And that is menopause.
It’s natural, it can be tough but you will get through it to summer - a time of abundance and freedom.
Q. Finally, we all know that stress can exacerbate menopause symptoms and we’re all living with a constant underlying anxiety right now - particularly as the world 'unlocks'. What have you done to better support yourself in the last 10 months?
I’ve witnessed the effect of stress on my perimenopause a few years ago going through a divorce. It’s absolutely shocking. As I mentioned each organ has an emotion attached to it in Chinese medicine and stress affects the liver, big time. When the liver is out of kilter all sorts of stuff goes on it affects our energy, digestion and ability to stay calm. It creates imbalance in the body resulting in issues such as dryness, hot flushes, night sweats, agitation, frustration, inability to plan, eye problems and much more.
The number one thing for me is ‘be kind’. Taking time for myself and being honest about how I’m feeling rather than resorting to old behaviours – ‘get busy, don’t look!’ and cutting others slack, observing the inner critic, thanking it for its service and then asking it politely to piss off!!!! Is that kind?
Q. Where can people find out more about Menopoised?
We’re on social media – @menopoised Instagram, facebook – where we have a small but growing private group- and at menopoised.co.uk which has all the info about us, our products and research. Plus, you can sign up for our regular newsletter which contains practical easy to do, bite-sized wisdom to help you have a positive menopause naturally.
At the moment you can download our 'Little Book of Self-Care for Hot Flushes and Night Sweats' and receive 10% off your first Menopoised order via our website or Instagram page.