Montreal Gazette

NOUR­ISH­ING MENTAL BAL­ANCE

- Al­bert Neren­berg re­ports Health · Medicine · Iceland · Belarus · Cardston · Alberta · Vanuatu · Belgium · Canada · Health Canada · Hollywood · Austria · United States of America · New Zealand · Auckland · Calgary · San Francisco · Colombia · New York University · York University · New York County, NY · Calgary · Canterbury · World Health Organization · HarperCollins · Harvard University · Harvard University · Claude Elwood Shannon · Colorado · Mental Health Association · Fort Collins

Can mi­cronu­tri­ents help peo­ple with men­tal dis­or­ders, from at­ten­tion deficit to manic de­pres­sion? Anew ap­proach is draw­ing both praise and cen­sure.

Story by AL­BERT NEREN­BERG Spe­cial to The Gazette

TONY STEPHAN’S LIFE WAS COM­ING UNGLUED. In 1994, the 40-year-old en­gi­neer from Cardston, Alta., thought his 210-pound teenage son might kill him.

Joseph, 15, had been di­ag­nosed with bipo­lar dis­or­der and al­though med­i­cated had vi­o­lent mood swings. Once a gen­tle gi­ant of a kid, he would ex­plode into vi­o­lent rages.

“He as­saulted my wife. We were all afraid for our lives,” Stephan said in an in­ter­view. “My son was in­sane.”

But that was just the half of it. Se­vere bipo­lar dis­or­der runs in the fam­ily.

Stephan’s wife, Deborah, and daugh­ter Au­tumn Stringam, 22, had also been di­ag­nosed with the con­di­tion. Au­tumn hal­lu­ci­nated and saw “demons” com­ing out of a hole in her chest. Then one day, Deborah com­mit­ted sui­cide, as­phyx­i­at­ing her­self in the fam­ily van in a pro­vin­cial park.

Stephan was los­ing it. He had just buried his wife. It seemed to him his son and daugh­ter were next. What he did to ap­par­ently save his kids – tak­ing them off their med­i­ca­tions and giv­ing them mi­cronu­tri­ents (con­cen­trated daily doses of a vi­ta­min and min­eral for­mula) – is now be­ing her­alded as ei­ther a scam or a revo­lu­tion.

Stephan is not a doc­tor or a sci­en­tist, but a new wave of in­ter­na­tional re­search sug­gests this “reg­u­lar guy” from ru­ral Al­berta could be part of a sig­nif­i­cant break­through in the way we see and treat men­tal ill­nesses. Stephan claims men­tal ill­nesses may not be life-long con­di­tions but po­ten­tially treat­able nu­tri­tional is­sues. But Health Canada, some doc­tors and some men­tal health ex­perts have dis­agreed, warn­ing against Stephan’s mi­cronu­tri­ent ap­proach.

Mi­cronu­tri­ents sound like some­thing out of a Hol­ly­wood script: A “cure” for ter­ri­ble dis­eases dis­cov­ered by the fam­i­lies of those suf­fer­ing with the ill­nesses, not med­i­cal pro­fes­sion­als. That re­mark­able claim is get­ting sup­port from pre­lim­i­nary stud­ies at uni­ver­si­ties in Canada, the U.S. and New Zealand.

Tak­ing risks with med­i­ca­tion is nat­u­rally danger­ous and wor­thy of ex­treme cau­tion and this story does not sug­gest peo­ple with men­tal ill­nesses stop tak­ing pre­scribed med­i­ca­tion. But a new ap­proach may be on the hori­zon and with the an­nounce­ment of a ma­jor clin­i­cal trial of treat­ing At­ten­tion Deficit Hy­per­ac­tiv­ity Dis­or­der with mi­cronu­tri­ents, it’s time to take a look at the big­ger pic­ture.

Stud­ies at three ma­jor uni­ver­si­ties have now con­cluded the mi­cronu­tri­ent ap­proach to mood dis­or­ders mer­its se­ri­ous ex­am­i­na­tion. Re­sults of pre­lim­i­nary re­search into treat­ing peo­ple suf­fer­ing from ADHD with the Cana­dian treat­ment ap­proach, re­ported in Jan­uary at the Uni­ver­sity of Can­ter­bury, caused a stir in New Zealand.

“Peo­ple … made ‘re­mark­able’ im­prove­ments by tak­ing a daily dose of nu­tri­tional sup­ple­ments rather than con­ven­tional medicines, a trial has found,” an Auck­land news­pa­per re­ported.

Now, a dou­ble-blind, placebo-con­trolled study – the ac­cepted stan­dard for test­ing new treat­ments – is tak­ing place in New Zealand, test­ing Stephan’s treat­ment on peo­ple with ADHD. (In such a clin­i­cal trial, nei­ther the pa­tients nor the re­searchers know who is get­ting a placebo and who is get­ting the treat­ment, so the re­sults aren’t tainted by ex­pec­ta­tions.)

“The nor­mal­iza­tion of the men­tally ill via nu­tri­ent sup­ple­men­ta­tion would be the most sig­nif­i­cant break­through in the field of men­tal ill­ness since the beginning of time,” states Bon­nie Ka­plan – a pro­fes­sor in the fac­ulty of medicine at Uni­ver­sity of Cal­gary who has con­ducted re­search into Stephan’s mi­cronu­tri­ent treat­ment – in con­fer­ence ma­te­ri­als for Mi­cronu­tri­ents for Men­tal Health, held in San Fran­cisco in De­cem­ber.

Ka­plan co-au­thored a study with New York Uni­ver­sity eco­nomics Pro­fes­sor Der­mot Gately, pub­lished in Novem­ber 2009, ex­am­in­ing 358 adults with bipo­lar dis­or­der who were us­ing Stephan’s ap­proach. The study showed that symp­toms of bipo­lar dis­or­der were “45-per-cent lower af­ter six months” of tak­ing mi­cronu­tri­ents, ac­cord­ing to their re­port in the jour­nal Clin­i­cal Medicine: Psy­chi­a­try. This in­volved daily doses of vi­ta­mins and min­er­als that could be sourced from al­most any drug­store.

Al­though this treat­ment orig­i­nated in Canada, other coun­tries might be in the process of le­git­imiz­ing it. But at home, Stephan has been shut down and called a fraud, a char­la­tan, and even ac­cused of ex­ploit­ing the hor­rors of his fam­ily or­deal for profit, he says.

“There was a lot of ex­cite­ment about this stuff when it first came out,” said Bill Ash­down, vice-pres­i­dent and founder of the Mood Dis­or­ders So­ci­ety of Canada, an ad­vo­cacy group. But Ash­down notes suf­fer­ers of men­tal ill­nesses and their fam­i­lies have fre­quently been let down by “ex­cit­ing new treat­ments.” Could this be dif­fer­ent?

Af­ter looking at copies, sent to him by The Gazette, of some Uni­ver­sity of Cal­gary and Can­ter­bury stud­ies done over the past decade that show Stephan’s mi­cronu­tri­ent ap­proach has prom­ise, Ash­down said he liked what he saw so far.

“The more I looked at the stud­ies, the more en­cour­aged I am. It’s ob­vi­ous this is a whole area that needs fur­ther study.”

Stephan claims that to­day 60,000 peo­ple world­wide are us­ing his treat­ment and “80 per cent have lives that have re­turned to some kind of nor­malcy.”

Men­tal ill­nesses will be the No. 2 cause of death and dis­abil­ity by 2020, ac­cord­ing to the World Health Or­ga­ni­za­tion. Along with many com­mon men­tal ill­nesses, bipo­lar dis­or­der, also known as manic-de­pres­sive dis­or­der, is be­com­ing more com­mon. One in ev­ery five Cana­di­ans will have a men­tal health prob­lem at some point in their lives and about one per cent will ex­pe­ri­ence bipo­lar dis­or­der, ac­cord­ing to the Cana­dian Men­tal Health As­so­ci­a­tion.

Al­though the con­di­tion varies greatly, bipo­lar dis­or­der is gen­er­ally ac­com­pa­nied by dra­matic mood swings of­ten from de­pres­sive to manic states, which can come with psy­chosis, delu­sions and hal­lu­ci­na­tions. It is tied to el­e­vated rates of de­pres­sion and sui­cide. There is no known cure for bipo­lar dis­or­der but many have their con­di­tion sta­bi­lized through med­i­ca­tion, tra­di­tion­ally phar­ma­ceu­ti­cal vari­a­tions on the min­eral lithium.

“My son was on 900 mil­ligrams of lithium a day and was ab­so­lutely out of con­trol,” said Stephan. His daugh­ter, who was on a mix of phar­ma­ceu­ti­cal drugs, be­lieved her hus­band was plot­ting to mur­der her.

Fear­ing his chil­dren were headed for obliv­ion, Stephan says he found some­thing that saved his kids. What he dis­cov­ered was out­side med­i­cal prac­tice, and at first glance sounds to­tally loony.

While dis­cussing new car­pet­ing for his church base­ment, Stephan told his des­per­ate story to David Hardy, an an­i­mal feed spe­cial­ist. Hardy ob­served Joseph’s bipo­lar con­di­tion sounded a bit like ear-and-tail-bit­ing syn­drome in pigs. Yes, pigs. Pigs of­ten be­have badly, some­thing that can be reg­u­lated by chang­ing their di­ets. Us­ing Hardy’s back­ground in feed sup­ple­ments, the two would then cre­ate a hu­man ver­sion of a pig nu­tri­tional reg­i­men, which they ad­min­is­tered to Stephan’s chil­dren while wean­ing them off their med­i­ca­tion, which had not been ef­fec­tive. The sup­ple­ment was heavy in mi­cronu­tri­ents.

As op­posed to ma­jor nu­tri­ents like pro­teins and car­bo­hy­drates, mi­cronu­tri­ents are the tiny trace amounts of min­er­als and vi­ta­mins that some be­lieve are es­sen­tial to health and bal­anced men­tal func­tion. They in­clude selenium, zinc, chromium, man­ganese, mag­ne­sium and molyb­de­num among many oth­ers. The the­ory is that peo­ple who lack cer­tain mi­cronu­tri­ents lose healthy brain func­tion, and may de­velop men­tal and mood dis­or­ders. Some peo­ple sim­ply need them more than oth­ers.

Within about 30 days on a daily high-dosage mi­cronu­tri­ent sup­ple­ment, Joseph’s symp­toms were gone, Stephan says. Au­tumn had been in a psy­chotic state, con­vinced there was a por­tal to hell in her chest. Af­ter four days of treat­ment, she says, her hal­lu­ci­na­tions sub­sided. Au­tumn would later write a book about her or­deal, A Prom­ise of Hope, pub­lished by HarperColl­ins in 2007, where she de­scribes wak­ing up af­ter tak­ing the sup­ple­ments for sev­eral days: “I push my arms un­der the blan­kets to feel my chest. There is no hole. Just me, in bed with a mid-morn­ing sun on my face.”

“New treat­ments come along all the time,” said Pro­fes­sor Hani Iskan­dar, co­or­di­na­tor of un­der­grad­u­ate med­i­cal ed­u­ca­tion in the depart­ment of psy­chi­a­try at McGill Uni­ver­sity and a Dou­glas Hospi­tal clin­i­cian and re­searcher in mood dis­or­ders. “It’s im­por­tant to be very cau­tious.”

New treat­ments do fol­low a clear and care­ful route in the med­i­cal world, and Iskan­dar said the mi­cronu­tri­ent ap­proach has yet to gain ap­pro­pri­ate cred­i­bil­ity.

But in the U.S., there are now sev­eral hun­dred doc­tors pre­scrib­ing mi­cronu­tri­ents, says psy­chi­a­trist Charles Pop­per, a clin­i­cal as­so­ciate at McLean Hospi­tal, a Har­vard Uni­ver­sity psy­chi­atric teach­ing hospi­tal.

Dr. Scott Shan­non treats adults and chil­dren with bipo­lar dis­or­der in Fort Collins, Colo., and is an as­so­ciate pro­fes­sor in psy­chi­a­try at the Uni­ver­sity of Colorado. He says he now reg­u­larly pre­scribes Stephan’s mi­cronu­tri­ents to those pa­tients: “It is so much safer and ef­fec­tive, and it’s re­ally a shame that it’s not more well known.”

Shan­non says un­like phar­ma­ceu­ti­cal med­i­ca­tions, which of­ten cause “weight gain and cog­ni­tive cloud­ing, the only side ef­fects we get is some soft stools be­cause mag­ne­sium, one of the in­gre­di­ents, is a lax­a­tive.”

Shan­non said he per­son­ally has treated more than 150 pa­tients with mood dis­or­ders with the mi­cronu­tri­ent ap­proach.

“I would say 70 to 80 per cent re­spond ro­bustly,” he said. “Af­ter two years they of­ten don’t need me any­more.”

Af­ter Stephan’s kids re­turned to “nor­mal,” Stephan and Hardy de­cided to seek sci­en­tific val­i­da­tion for their dis­cov­ery.

They be­gan by ap­proach­ing sci­en­tists, con­tact­ing Ka­plan, then di­rec­tor of be­havioural re­search at Al­berta Chil­dren’s Hospi­tal. Ka­plan would ini­tially tell a re­porter: “I told them to take their snake oil some­where else.”

But in 1996, Ka­plan, on the re­com- men­da­tion of a sci­en­tist friend, met with the two men, and they con­vinced her it at least mer­ited in­ves­ti­ga­tion. She tried the mi­cronu­tri­ent treat­ment on peo­ple who had not re­sponded well to con­ven­tional med­i­ca­tion for bipo­lar dis­or­der, two young boys with mood dis­or­ders and ex­plo­sive tem­pers. Af­ter tak­ing the sup­ple­ment, Ka­plan said, their rages di­min­ished.

Ka­plan was in­trigued, and in 2000, be­gan a small open-la­bel clin­i­cal trial of 11 bipo­lar pa­tients who had also not re­sponded to stan­dard med­i­ca­tions. Af­ter six months, all 11 pa­tients were both less de­pressed and less manic ac­cord­ing to Ka­plan’s study, which was pub­lished in the Jour­nal of Child and Ado­les­cent Child Psy­chophar­ma­col­ogy.

Ka­plan would tell Dis­cov­ery Chan­nel: “In a word, they got bet­ter. It some­how cor­rects an im­bal­ance that th­ese peo­ple are pre­dis­posed to have.”

Stephan and Hardy also met with psy­chi­a­trist Pop­per. Af­ter test­ing the Cana­di­ans’ mi­cronu­tri­ent treat­ment on 22 pa­tients suf­fer­ing from bipo­lar dis­or­der, Pop­per wrote in the De­cem­ber 2001 Jour­nal of Clin­i­cal Psy­chi­a­try: “What if some pa­tients could be treated with in­ex­pen­sive vi­ta­mins and min­er­als rather than ex­pen­sive patented phar­ma­ceu­ti­cals?”

Of his 22 pa­tients, “19 showed what I be­lieve to be a pos­i­tive re­sponse. (2 mild, 7 moderate, 10 marked im­prove­ment),” Pop­per wrote.

“I’m in full agree­ment with be­ing skep­ti­cal about new wild-eyed claims,” he said in a re­cent in­ter­view. “But it’s clear that this mer­its re­search.”

Th­ese re­sults are still con­sid­ered “anec­do­tal” by med­i­cal re­search stan­dards, which usu­ally re­quire a ma­jor dou­ble-blind, placebo-con­trolled study like the one now un­der way in New Zealand.

Stephan and Hardy, who hap­pen to be Mor­mon, in 1996 co­founded True­hope, a re­li­gious-sound­ing Al­berta nu­tri­tional sup­ple­ment com­pany, to sell their mi­cronu­tri­ent treat­ment for bipo­lar dis­or­der, EMPow­er­plus, which they man­u­fac­ture in Los An­ge­les. It’s a mix­ture of vi­ta­mins and min­er­als that sells for about $150 for a month’s daily sup­ply. The mix­ture con­tained rel­a­tively high doses of 34 vi­ta­mins and min­er­als in­clud­ing B vi­ta­mins, cal­cium, iron, mag­ne­sium, cop­per and po­tas­sium. True­hope quickly be­came con­tro­ver­sial be­cause of its ad­vice to clients tak­ing EMPow­er­plus to go off their reg­u­lar med­i­ca­tion, due to pos­si­ble side ef­fects of over­med­i­ca­tion.

On its web­site, True­hope claims its prod­ucts not only help re­solve bipo­lar dis­or­der but also mi­graines, schizophre­nia, de­pres­sion and other con­di­tions.

“Yes. It got us into a lot of trou­ble,” with Health Canada, which re­quires test­ing of prod­ucts for which med­i­cal claims have been made, said Stephan, who says he be­lieves that most mood dis­or­ders may have a nu­tri­tional ba­sis. “We had peo­ple com­ing to us with de­pres­sion who wanted to try our prod­uct. When it seemed to work, it was hard to say ‘no.’ ”

True­hope does sug­gest that peo­ple go off their meds, though with the help of their doc­tors. The ob­vi­ous dan­ger of the mi­cronu­tri­ent ap­proach oc­curs when peo­ple go off their med­i­ca­tion be­cause of it.

“We try to work with peo­ple’s doc­tors when we can. I do be­lieve in sci­ence,” he said. “But I be­lieve in help­ing peo­ple, too. The mind­set about men­tal ill­nesses is there’s no cure for them and there never will be. I ob­vi­ously dis­agree.”

Why would a nu­tri­tional sup­ple­ment, based on one given to pigs, work on hu­man bipo­lar dis­or­der when med­i­cal sci­ence can seem­ingly only man­age it?

Gen­er­ally speak­ing, com­mon men­tal ill­nesses are seen as life-long con­di­tions. They can­not be cured, but can be treated and some­times mod­er­ated by mod­ern medicine. No­bel Prize winning sci­en­tist Li­nus Paul­ing had an­other idea in the late 1960s. He spec­u­lated that some peo­ple have a stronger ge­net­icbased need for vi­ta­mins and min­er­als than oth­ers. He sug­gested some men­tal ill­nesses could sim­ply be re­sults of fail­ing to meet th­ese re­quire­ments. Sci­en­tists have ob­served that nu­tri­tional de­fi­ciency in oth­er­wise healthy peo­ple can quickly pro­duce men­tal is­sues. Al­most any­one will ex­pe­ri­ence mood swings when very hun­gry.

Back in Cal­gary in 2001, Ka­plan was ready to go to the next stage, and launch a ma­jor dou­ble-blind study. But in March 2001, Health Canada low­ered the boom.

“We started the study,” said Ka­plan. “And then I found out the for­mula had been stopped at the bor­der by Health Canada. Health Canada shut down our trial. They con­fis­cated the for­mula, raided True­hope’s of­fice, and or­dered every­one to go off the for­mula,” Ka­plan said in an in­ter­view.

Ka­plan was floored. She said she had as­sumed at the very least that check­ing the ef­fec­tive­ness of the mi­cronu­tri­ent ap­proach was a rea­son­able sub­ject of study.

For the thou­sands of peo­ple al­ready us­ing the prod­uct, there was panic, says Stephan, as fear spread that users would be cut off.

Tony Rider, a Toronto real-es­tate agent and bipo­lar suf­ferer said in an in­ter­view he was so des­per­ate for the sup­ple­ments he would smug­gle them across the bor­der.

“I used to drive back to Canada with it un­der the seat of my car,” said Rider, who cred­its mi­cronu­tri­ents for his cur­rent sta­ble men­tal health.

A June 2003 pub­lic ad­vi­sory on Health Canada’s web­site states: “Health Canada is ad­vis­ing con­sumers not to use EMPow­er­plus, al- so known as EM Power+ and EM Power. It is a drug. …

“The main con­cern with Empow­er­plus is that the prod­uct is be­ing pro­moted for the treat­ment of se­ri­ous psy­chi­atric dis­or­ders without hav­ing un­der­gone the rig­or­ous test­ing nec­es­sary for all drug prod­ucts.”

Act­ing, it says, out of con­cern for the well-be­ing of pa­tients ad­vised to go off their med­i­ca­tions, Health Canada alerted the RCMP, which in July 2003 raided the True­hope of­fice in Ray­mond, Alta. True­hope was charged with vi­o­la­tions of the Food and Drug Act, for sell­ing a drug without gov­ern­ment ap­proval. In July 2006, a pro­vin­cial court judge dis­missed the charges, rul­ing the firm had no rea­son­able le­gal al­ter­na­tive to sell­ing its EMPow­er­plus without reg­u­la­tory ap­proval, ac­cept­ing the de­fence’s ar­gu­ments that clients may have be­come ill or even died without it.

“Why don’t they (Stephan and Hardy) just go away?” Dr. Terry Polevoy said in an in­ter­view. Polevoy is a pe­di­a­tri­cian who op­er­ates the Acne Care Clinic in Kitch­ener and a fer­vent op­po­nent of True­hope. He runs one of Canada’s main anti-quack­ery web­sites, Health­watcher.net, and is in­censed at what he sees as True­hope’s non­med­i­cal ap­proach to treat­ing se­ri­ous ill­nesses.

Polevoy, who claims True­hope is sim­ply a scam prey­ing on the des­per­a­tion of the men­tally ill, co-wrote an on­line ex­posé book, ti­tled Pig Pills, Inc., The Anatomy of an Aca­demic and Al­ter­na­tive Health Fraud (2003). Polevoy says Stephan is not a doc­tor, but he and his staff act like med­i­cal pro­fes­sion­als dis­pens­ing “cures” for men­tal ill­nesses for profit.

“It’s danger­ous. Be­cause there’s no proof and th­ese peo­ple aren’t sci­en­tists.”

Stephan coun­ters that he ex­pected op­po­si­tion but he was sur­prised how “bal­lis­tic” it was. Not only was he tar­get­ted per­son­ally and pro­fes­sion­ally by Polevoy, but any­one who took up re­search in the mi­cronu­tri­ent area was tar­get­ted, too.

The two re­searchers who orig­i­nally opened the door to mi­cronu­tri­ent re­search re­gard­ing men­tal ill­ness were both sub­jected to what they char­ac­ter­ize as ha­rass­ment.

Polevoy wrote let­ters to deans and re­search ethics com­mit­tees at the Uni­ver­sity of Cal­gary at­tack­ing Ka­plan’s re­search and con­duct­ing Ac­cess to In­for­ma­tion re­quests for all her doc­u­men­ta­tion. Sim­i­lar let­ter cam­paigns sent to Har­vard tar­get­ted Charles Pop­per’s work. As a re­sult, both re­searchers spent months de­fend­ing their work to aca­demic bodies, they said.

“We were al­ways ex­on­er­ated,” said Ka­plan. “There’s never been a charge up­held against any of us.”

Pop­per char­ac­ter­ized the cam­paign against mi­cronu­tri­ent re­search as “anti-sci­ence.”

“Their names were be­ing as­so­ci­ated with sales of the prod­uct (EMPow­er­plus),” said Polevoy, ex­plain­ing why he tar­get­ted Ka­plan and Pop­per.

The Pig Pills au­thor was stunned to hear that New Zealand was now con­duct­ing clin­i­cal tri­als with EMPow­er­plus. “I don't be­lieve it,” he said, adding he doubted mi­cronu­tri­ents would ever gain le­git­i­macy. “No big drug com­pany is go­ing to study this be­cause there’s no money in it – it can’t be patented.”

Ka­plan has re­cently moved on to an Al­berta gov­ern­ment-sup­ported $ 5-mil­lion study of nutri­tion and preg­nancy, where she leads a 16mem­ber aca­demic team. She said she felt the crux of the furor over EMPow­er­plus was that the treat­ment came from reg­u­lar peo­ple, Stephan and Hardy, not the med­i­cal com­mu­nity.

“It in­fu­ri­ates their crit­ics that th­ese peo­ple aren’t doc­tors and they’re help­ing peo­ple,” she said.

David Thomas, a me­dia-re­la­tions of­fi­cer for Health Canada, said al­though Health Canada al­lows a ver­sion of True­hope’s prod­uct to be sold in Canada, it still rec­om­mends against the use of EMPow­er­plus.

“The safety and ef­fi­cacy of EMPow­er­plus has not been shown,” he said.

True­hope claims it’s caught in a Catch 22. Crit­ics at­tack the com­pany, say­ing it doesn’t have ap­pro­pri­ate re­search back­ing its claims, but the same crit­ics have cam­paigned against that very re­search even tak­ing place, Stephan says.

Marvin Ross, a sci­ence writer and au­thor of Schizophre­nia: Medicine's Mys­tery – So­ci­ety's Shame (2008), cowrote Pig Pills. He says he and Polevoy got in­ter­ested in the story when they at­tended an in­for­ma­tion ses­sion staffed by True­hope in Hamil­ton.

“They were en­cour­ag­ing peo­ple to go off their meds,” said Ross.

In 2007, Health Canada is­sued an­other warn­ing about EMPow­er­plus: “Health Canada has re­ceived nine case re­ports of se­ri­ous ad­verse re­ac­tions as­so­ci­ated with the use of EMPow­er­plus. … The wors­en­ing of th­ese symp­toms could be re­lated to tak­ing the prod­uct and dis­con­tin­u­ing pre­scrip­tion med­i­ca­tions.”

Ross says the num­bers of for­mer bipo­lar suf­fer­ers who swear by EMPow­er­plus does baf­fle him.

“I don’t ex­plain it be­cause I can’t,” he says. Ross did spec­u­late that by its na­ture bipo­lar is a con­di­tion that “waxes and wanes.” Peo­ple who ex­pe­ri­ence a nat­u­ral im­prove­ment in their con­di­tion might at­tribute it to EMPow­er­plus while it may be co­in­ci­dence.

“Take vi­ta­mins if you like,” he said. “But don’t go off your meds. Yes, there are anec­dotes about peo­ple who have got­ten well. But anec­dotes don’t make sci­ence.”

Re­search has taken root at Ohio State Uni­ver­sity, as well as at New Zealand’s Uni­ver­sity of Can­ter­bury.

Pro­fes­sor Mary Fris­tad at Ohio State com­pleted a study in 2009 on True­hope’s EMPow­er­plus, which showed pos­i­tive re­sults.

“This re­port adds to ac­cu­mu­lat­ing pre­lim­i­nary ev­i­dence that fur­ther ba­sic sci­ence and clin­i­cal stud­ies of mi­cronu­tri­ent sup­ple­ments are war­ranted,” says her study, pub­lished in the Jour­nal of Child and Ado­les­cent Psy­chophar­ma­col­ogy.

Fris­tad is now work­ing on find­ing fund­ing for a full clin­i­cal trial of True­hope mi­cronu­tri­ents as treat­ment for bipo­lar dis­or­der.

Child psy­chi­a­trist Arnold, also at Ohio State, says Canada has missed the boat on this one. “There’s been some in­tem­per­ate claims about nu­tri­tional sup­ple­ments in the past, which may have caused a back­lash,” he said. “But a lot of good peo­ple are on top of this. I think Canada missed the op­por­tu­nity to be the leader in the area and now other coun­tries are tak­ing over.”

The for­mal clin­i­cal dou­ble-blind, placebo-con­trolled study, treat­ing ADHD with the mi­cronu­tri­ent ap­proach, is now in progress at the Uni­ver­sity of Can­ter­bury un­der Pro­fes­sor Ju­lia Ruck­lidge, a for­mer grad­u­ate stu­dent of Bon­nie Ka­plan. Ruck­lidge says she’s been in­un­dated with over 500 re­quests from peo­ple who want to be on the study, so they can ac­cess the treat­ment.

“It’s been quite amaz­ing,” she said.

As a Cana­dian, Ruck­lidge says, she was baf­fled by what she called Canada’s “crush­ing” of mi­cronu­tri­ent re­search.

“To try and shut down a nat­u­ral line of in­ves­ti­ga­tion doesn’t make sense,” she said in an in­ter­view. “Right or wrong, it’s in the best in­ter­est of every­one to find out.”

 ?? FILE PHOTO 2006 CANWEST NEWS SER­VICE ?? The way we see and treat men­tal
ill­ness is be­ing chal­lenged by stud­ies show­ing
mi­cronu­tri­ents have prom­ise as
treat­ment for
mood dis­or­ders
for mood dis­or­ders. is an ef­fec­tive treat­ment mi­cronu­tri­ent sup­ple­ment David Hardy say their To ny Stephan...
FILE PHOTO 2006 CANWEST NEWS SER­VICE The way we see and treat men­tal ill­ness is be­ing chal­lenged by stud­ies show­ing mi­cronu­tri­ents have prom­ise as treat­ment for mood dis­or­ders for mood dis­or­ders. is an ef­fec­tive treat­ment mi­cronu­tri­ent sup­ple­ment David Hardy say their To ny Stephan...
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 ?? CANWEST NEWS FILE PHOTO ?? Au­tumn Stringam, daugh­ter of True­hope co-founder Tony Stephan, has writ­ten a book about her strug­gle with bipo­lar dis­or­der. Af­ter four days of treat­ment with mi­cronu­tri­ents, she says, her hal­lu­ci­na­tions sub­sided.
CANWEST NEWS FILE PHOTO Au­tumn Stringam, daugh­ter of True­hope co-founder Tony Stephan, has writ­ten a book about her strug­gle with bipo­lar dis­or­der. Af­ter four days of treat­ment with mi­cronu­tri­ents, she says, her hal­lu­ci­na­tions sub­sided.

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