The Invention of EMPowerplus
It’s also interesting to learn of how EMPowerplus came to be, according to court documents filed in Canada:
As an animal nutritionist, Mr. Hardy discovered that feeding certain nutrients to pigs helped alleviate their ear and tail biting syndrome. [Emphasis added.] Mr. Hardy observed that certain behaviors in humans such as hyper-irritability as well as symptoms related to bipolar disorder are similar to what he observed in pigs and speculated that if people were given certain nutrients, their symptoms could also be alleviated.
In 1995, Mr. Anthony Stephan, also a co-founder of TrueHope, sought Mr. Hardy’s advice about treating the poor mental health of his children: his daughter Autumn was delusional and suicidal, and his son, Joseph suffered from bursts of uncontrollable rage. Given Mr. Hardy’s positive experience with treating similar conduct in pigs as a nutrient deficiency, they placed Autumn and Joseph on a course of off-the-retail-shelf nutrients. The mental health of both improved.
EMPowerplus comes from a pig nutritionist who wanted to alleviate some negative pig behaviors. It’s also interesting to note that Mr. Stephan saw such significant improvement in his children through the use of simple, off-the-shelf nutrients. This suggests a more affordable and direct route for people who want to try the “vitamin and mineral” cure — go down to your local pharmacy and pick some up!
Where Does That Leave Us With EMPowerplus?
The U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) defines a drug under their purview for regulation as something that’s intended for “use in the diagnosis, cure, mitigation, treatment or prevention of a disease.” It doesn’t matter if that thing is a naturally occurring mineral or not. Once you start making the claim that your product can cure something like a mental disorder such as bipolar or ADHD, it’s something the FDA wants to look at carefully, scientifically and systematically.
Apparently, the last attempt to do so through a NIH clinical trial was terminated with the following reasons cited: “Unable to recruit large enough sample; large expectancy effects; No adverse events recorded; results uninformative with respect to efficacy.”
TrueHope makes the claim that its EMPowerplus product can help treat bipolar disorder and ADHD, among other mental health concerns. It is my opinion that these claims are unfounded based upon the current research that suffers from a wide range of methodological problems.
Is it safe to try? Apparently, yes. Can you potentially gain some benefit from trying it? Sure, it’s possible — the web and the company’s website are littered with testimonials from people who say it works for them. That means it may also work for you.
But so may any sugar pill. Or any off-the-shelf vitamin supplement. I wouldn’t pay a premium ($75 for 228 pills — and you have to take 15 capsules/day, meaning you’ll need 2 bottles/month) for a mix of vitamins and minerals that haven’t been shown to be more effective than placebo. I would just take a daily supplement that’s already available (and is more affordable).
I will end with this — I have respect for both Mr. Hardy and Mr. Stephan for trying to help people in need with something they believe works to help alleviate mental illness. It’s my opinion that their intentions are apparently good and well-grounded, but their follow-through with adequate research and the over-hyping of their product leaves much to be desired.
Editor’s note: We hope to continue this series looking into the benefits and drawbacks of nutritional supplements for mental health and mental illness in the weeks to come. Stay tuned!
Truehope: Nutrition for Mental Health – Also features information about the Truehope Program
Rucklidge, Julia J.; Gately, Dermot; Kaplan, Bonnie J.; (2010). Database analysis of children and adolescents with bipolar disorder consuming a micronutrient formula. BMC Psychiatry, 10.
A. Simpson, J. Steven; Crawford, Susan G.; Goldstein, Estelle T.; Field, Catherine; Burgess, Ellen; Kaplan, Bonnie J.; (2011). Systematic review of safety and tolerability of a complex micronutrient formula used in mental health. BMC Psychiatry, 11.
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Last reviewed: By John M. Grohol, Psy.D. on 9 Feb 2012
Published on PsychCentral.com. All rights reserved.
Grohol, J. (2011). Nutritional Supplements to Treat ADHD, Bipolar, Depression: EMPowerplus. Psych Central. Retrieved on March 9, 2014, from http://psychcentral.com/blog/archives/2011/08/29/nutritional-supplements-to-treat-adhd-bipolar-depression-empowerplus/