9 minute read by BeYou
Our why (what and who)
BeYou is not just about creating science-backed, innovative natural products; it’s a means to empower through positivity and unity. In a world that is increasingly focused on what makes us different, it’s easy to forget just how much we have in common. Together, we can help understand each other and make a lasting difference for generations to come!
While we’re best known for our flagship period patches, menstruation is only part of a long list of taboo topics and issues which have historically been discarded as ‘girl problems.’ Our products aim to encourage dialogue, while each purchase helps us to invest in bridging the associated gender gap in medical research.
Expect better. Challenge everything.
The foundation of science is doubt. It must be falsifiable. If you can’t prove it is false; that is to say it remains true in every situation, then it is not science - it is a fact. We believe you should be able to challenge science at all times. Most of what we know as medical ‘facts’ are just the best explanations we currently have based on the studies we have conducted - which inherently make assumptions based on other ‘facts.’
Investigating Bias in Medical Research
The gender gap in medical research
Historically, women have been underrepresented, and therefore studied less than men at various stages of medical and clinical research. This has resulted in a knowledge gap and medicines with disproportionately adverse side effects, morbidity and mortality rates for women.
In fact, women suffer from adverse reactions to medication twice as often than men - ranging from nausea (the significance of which is widely downplayed), to more life-threatening side effects such as cardiac arrhythmia. To make things worse, female diseases have been underfunded: there is five times more research into erectile dysfunction, which affects 19% of men, than into premenstrual syndrome, which affects 90% of women.
Did you know?
At a cellular level, sex differences, due to hormones such as oestrogen, have a huge impact on drug efficacy and safety profiles. Historically, however, medicines have been tested on mostly male cells in the lab - sometimes citing the unscientific reason that female hormone fluctuations make women too tricky to study!
All of this not only means that we are presented with medication which isn’t fit-for-purpose; it means a lack of understanding from some medical professionals. The unknowingly biased knowledge they have access to has far reaching consequences: women in Britain are 50% more likely to be misdiagnosed following a heart attack, while it takes seven years for someone to be diagnosed with endometriosis (a debilitating disease that affects 1 in 10 women). SEVEN YEARS!
At BeYou, we are constantly challenging the assumptions and studies which underpin various treatments, many of which have been grandfathered into our entire medical system - including the textbooks which teach the next generation. For example, did you know heat therapy can do more damage to your tissues and make chronic inflammatory conditions such as endometriosis worse? We created our flagship patches from the ground up to overcome these shortcomings.
Did you know?
Even in more inclusive studies where there is a more equitable balance of genders and ethnicities, the results are rarely broken down further and pursued.
The Racial Gap in medical research
Similar underrepresentation at the cellular level has also led to a racial gap in medical research. While there are a number of underlying socio-economic issues and causes here, there are also fundamental physiological differences which can impact the efficacy and safety profiles of medicines in people from different ethnic backgrounds. Issues which are often overlooked.
Darker skin, for example, has more melanin which reduces the skin’s ability to produce vitamin D from sunlight. All else being equal, BAME communities therefore naturally have lower levels of the vitamin D hormone. This impacts various inflammatory pathways in the body and is associated with metabolic diseases and a weakened immune system, to name a few. This simple difference has far reaching implications on how the body responds to treatments. In conditions with chronic pain, for example, evidence is emerging that low vitamin D levels can result in a need for higher pain relief doses for the same outcome.
There is even an underlying diversity bias when it comes to the popular 'recommended daily amount' (RDA) of nutrients people are told to consume, with the latest studies showing that people from ethnic backgrounds should be prescribed a higher amount of vitamin D. Some treatments even decrease the amount of vitamin D that is absorbed; another worrying little-known fact that can have knock-on effects.
There are countless other examples where a lack of diversity in clinical data has disastrous consequences. Indeed there is an unfathomable amount of research which needs to be done, clinical studies which need to take place, and ultimately, knowledge which needs to be shared. We’re on it!
Unlearning: we don’t know what we don’t know
Our entire view of medication is based on one-size-fits-all treatments. Everything is geared towards treating symptoms without thinking about the root cause or the long term (arguably one of the major side effects of decades of pharmaceutical companies pushing quick-fixes and leading the entire conversation). However, aside from preventative lifestyle choices, a better approach is a personalised and integrated treatment based on the individual, as a whole, based on data. The various genetic differences between us all, while often tiny, are compounded exponentially when looking at any person as a whole. Protein synthesis, nutrient absorption, organ function, the impact of hormones: all of these things differ. Indeed someone's genetic predisposition can be altered by lifestyle too.
This means unlearning our view of taking individual ailments in isolation, and expanding them to include our entire history, body and mind (mental health can have a huge impact on hormones and cause subsequent physiological problems). For example, a recent study found that having an early hysterectomy can lead to a higher chance of dementia in later life - this is particularly troubling considering the number one ‘treatment’ recommended for a number of gynaecological disorders is a hysterectomy! Another hard-hitting example is the link that has now been found between the gut microbiome and Alzheimer's.
In particular, we’re focused on understanding gene expression as it provides a gateway to exploring the nuanced differences in genders and ethnicities; including how tissues, organs and inflammatory pathways react to stimuli. Combine that with the latest advancements in protein folding, machine learning and AI, BeYou is well positioned at the forefront of this revolution.
There is an obsession with 'evidence-based medicine' which we're all for; however, it would be ignorant and irresponsible to dismiss treatments for female conditions which have largely gone underfunded and consequently under-researched. How can there be evidence if there have not been studies? We’re working tirelessly to explore these areas with a view to democratise this knowledge without an agenda; and in doing so, we aim to unearth a deeper understanding of, and natural solutions to, the most challenging of problems.
With the help of cutting-edge medical experts, data, and a penchant for dreaming big, we’ll continue to challenge the status quo with scientific rigour, so we can create innovative solutions to problems that are often taken for granted.
We’re also working to ensure that the latest research around female-specific issues is updated within the broader community and medical industry - ranging from entry-level qualifications through to CPD.
The Science of Nature
We are meticulous in our choice of ingredients for each and every product.
In the western hemisphere, at least, there has largely been a consensus that natural or herbal products are inferior. That they are hit and miss or some kind of placebo. However, most modern medicines have been developed on the back of studying natural compounds - in fact, some argue the definition of science is the study of nature.
In any case, that means there is a vast library of scientific studies demonstrating efficacy of many natural ingredients and that’s where we start. Within the limits of current medical knowledge (which, as you know we’re always questioning) we try to understand exactly how the various compounds interact in the body and what makes something suitable for the problem we are trying to solve.
We formulate according to strictest standards, meaning we avoid thousands of potentially harmful chemicals that are often banned in some countries, but actually present in many products you find on the shelves! Our products are vegan (no animal by-products) and cruelty-free (no animal testing).
Every BeYou product sold helps provide the poorest girls in rural India with free period pads, meaning they don’t skip school because they feel ashamed. We do this via our BeYou Foundation, working directly with local self-help groups to ensure none of the money you trust us with goes towards paying ‘admin fees.’ We’re working hard to get our Foundation page up and running to showcase some of the incredible projects that we’ve worked on already, and for you to get involved!
What's in the name?
BeYou is all about being comfortable in yourself and Celebrating Individuality Together™. It’s about finding common ground and unity, helping to understand each other instead of vilifying others based on differences. It’s about the right to not be judged and the willingness to celebrate what makes each of us unique.
We aren’t mutually exclusive beings - we have shared likes, hopes and dreams - we just need to have the courage to discover them with each other. Nowadays, we’re too quick to dismiss others without taking that into account, or the fact that who they are is an accumulation of the multiple spheres of influence they have moved through. Indeed, most of us are easily influenced by social network echo chambers and media bias which shape the conversation around and within us.
Disagreements are good, and healthy debates hold a mirror up to our biases. We aim to use our platform to bring people together by exploring and celebrating their differences. Love a no-makeup, natural lifestyle? Check. Love all the glitz and the glam? Check. Die hard eco-warrior? Check. Couldn’t care less? Check. No judgement, just a place for you to… BeYou.
We believe that people are inherently good; that people change and people grow based on experiences. Ignorance is nobody’s fault - in fact, it’s arguably the default setting! This fact has been eroded away by mob mentality, virtue signalling and the negative network effects of the internet. As a result, there is far too much hatred in the world.
BeYou is here to say you have the unequivocal right to feel empowered and have your own set of beliefs and view of the world. Our empowerment manifesto is still on it’s way, so stay tuned!
Our story began when Kru was period-shamed by a male colleague for using a hot water bottle in the office – she was experiencing the worst period cramps she’d had in a long time, not that it needs to be justified! That’s where it gets interesting - but we’ll be updating this page with a video on it in due course, so watch this space! In the meantime, check out our first blog post from when we started.
As you can tell, we've come a long way since! We’ve significantly built on our range of all-natural products, we're stocked in national retailers, and we’re expanding internationally. That doesn’t mean we’re just another faceless corporation though. There are real people on this side of the webpage, and if you ever want to speak to any one of us just reach out.
If you’ve made it all the way down here, thanks so much for reading! You’re statistically in the minority of people who read pages this long. Now you know so much about us, you may as well be one of our ambassadors and help us spread the word (well, both words - our products, and the movement).
If you ARE interested, please get in touch and hopefully we can make a difference together!
We’ve had a fun journey so far; for all of you who have joined us already, thank you. And for all those yet to, hop on! There’s no doubt it’s going to be a fun and rewarding ride.
Stay tuned - and in the meantime, BeYou.
Kru & Hems
Siblings, Co-founders, Believers.