By the ANH Team

As reported recently in the Montreal Gazette, Tony Stephan’s story—the story of Truehope, his company—has a heartbreaking and shocking beginning. But like all of our favourite stories, it ends well. Through its course it offers fascinating information and is well worth the read.

It’s hard for many of us to imagine the type of abject fear and isolation experienced by Tony Stephan during his early years of dealing with his family’s health challenges. It’s the stuff of nightmares. And then to make the hard decision to take your children off the medication that you had put all of your hopes in; this must have been a hugely emotional and difficult choice to act on. Such decisions are normally only taken when everything else has failed. This was Tony Stephan’s experience.

The WHO says micronutrients are “called micronutrients because they are needed only in minuscule amounts, these substances are the ‘magic wands’ that enable the body to produce enzymes, hormones and other substances essential for proper growth and development.” Well, micronutrients certainly worked their ‘magic’ on these two sufferers. Except it wasn’t magic, and that is what research is starting to confirm.

The role of micronutrients in maintaining our health is the subject of considerable study, and it is only quite recently that their role in mental health has come under sharp focus. Studies are confirming that an imbalance in nutrients can lead to a reduction in cognitive function and mental illness. What’s more, individual requirements vary markedly, so the idea of limiting our access to arbitrary limits, as being contemplated in Canada and the EU, makes no rational sense.

A number of trials so far have been successful and researchers involved are increasingly hopeful that micronutrients, as opposed to drugs, may represent an exciting step towards the successful restoration of mental health. This research points to the benefits of synergistic blends of micronutrients, as found in Truehope’s EMpowerplus formula, as compared with individual micronutrients such as niacin and omega-3 fatty acids which have shown very clear benefits in their own right previously.

Writing in Clinical Medicine Insight: Psychiatry, researchers Dermot Gately and Bonnie Kaplan found that among 682 adults diagnosed with bipolar disorder, symptoms decreased with increasing dosage of the EMpowerplus formula and reduced dosages of medications approved for bipolar disorder (lithium, anticonvulsants, atypical antipsychotics). The researchers claimed that ‘symptom improvements were significant and sustained at 6 months, and decreased symptom severity over the 6 months was associated with increasing micronutrient dosage and with reducing medication’. Dr Kaplan spoke at the Micronutrients for Mental Health Conference in Dec 2009, and her opinion is given on their web page. She says “If substantiated in controlled trials, 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.”

Other research is also suggesting the value of multiple micronutrients in mental health. Associate Professor Julia Rucklidge (Psychology) from the University of Canterbury recently carried out an open-label trial looking at the effect of micronutrients on behaviour and mood in adults with Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD). She found that “…at the end of the eight weeks the mean score on the depression measure fell in the normal nondepressed range, which is a fairly remarkable change in such a short time, especially given that many had not experienced such improvements with other conventional treatments”. Most of the individuals taking part in the trial were in a moderate to severe depressed state at the commencement of the trial and suffered with both ADHD and severe mood dysregulation (SMD).

Professor Rucklidge stated “it shouldn’t really come as a surprise that micronutrients can affect psychiatric symptoms given that they are essential for the synthesis of neurotransmitters; it is possible that some individuals with mental illness either have deficiencies in nutrients or may need more for optimal brain functioning.”

Psychiatrists that have administered or recommended micronutrient use to restore mental wellbeing are often very enthusiastic over nutrient as compared with drug use. Why shouldn’t they be, given both their efficacy for particular conditions as well as their lack of serious adverse effects?

Conventional treatments often bring with them many side effects such as weight gain, high blood pressure, possibility of developing diabetes, ‘movement disorders’ (which require other drugs to reduce the symptoms), thirst and drowsiness; the list goes on. Dr. Natalie Sadler, holistic psychiatrist in private practice in Carrboro, North Carolina commented “Most patients that I’ve treated with EMP have been able to completely come off medication. There is a hold-your-breath moment, but it usually works very well. Once the patient and his or her family sees that there are no more side effects or symptoms, everybody can relax and trust the process.”

With these sorts of positive results, it is no surprise that mental health sufferers have come to rely on micronutrient treatment, such as Truehope’s EMpowerplus supplement treatment formulated by Tony Stephan and David Hardy.

But due to increasing regulatory threats, people are having to go to extraordinary lengths to acquire the formula as it is not approved for sale in Canada. In fact, Health Canada has for many years gone out of its way to dissuade people from using EMpowerplus, ironically suggesting — with no supporting evidence — that people would be better off using conventional medications.

Along with this, anti-natural health advocates, blog sites and websites have attacked Stephan, Hardy and even the scientists willing to give micronutrients a go verbally and within the press.

Research into the efficacy of nutrient therapy in mental health is proving very difficult given such resistance by government authorities.

The fate for Europeans wanting to continue using micronutrients could be even worse than that for North Americans. The EU Food Supplements Directive already controls what forms of vitamins and minerals are allowed in supplements sold in the European Union, many of the most efficacious forms having been banned as of 1 January 2010. The European Commission is in the process of trying to develop a legislative proposal to limit maximum dosages. ANH-Intl is at the forefront of exposing the flaws in the methods being contemplated by EU authorities and it strongly advocates that any regulatory measures are delayed until such time that a rational scientific methodology for regulating dosages is developed.

European citizens concerned about these limitations should write to their Member of European Parliament (MEP) now, informing them of your concern. You can find out more about writing to your MEP via our Get Involved page.



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