supplements

Preliminary Evidence for EMPowerplus/Truehope in ADHD Treatment

→ February 20, 2014 - 5 Comments

Preliminary Evidence for EMPowerplus/Truehope in ADHD Treatment

Those of you who follow me know that I’m not a big fan of Truehope/EMPowerplus, in spite of having tried EMPowerplus myself. And one of the things I complained about is the lack of double-blind, controlled studies of the supplement. Well, one scientific study has now been published and I figured I should mention it to be fair. This new study indicates preliminary evidence for Truehope/EMPowerplus (a micronutrient formula) in the treatment of attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder (ADHD).

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What I Know about EMPowerplus by Truehope that You Don’t

→ December 17, 2013 - 224 Comments

What I Know about EMPowerplus by Truehope that You Don’t

(Prereading: What is EMPowerplus by Truehope and Why am I Taking EMPowerplus?)

I’ve ordered EMPowerplus by Truehope now, and so, as a buyer, I know a few things that you can’t find out on their public site.

The Experience of Buying EMPowerplus by Truehope

The experience of buying EMPowerplus is exactly what you would think it would be – you go online and you buy it. There is one difference though, and that difference is that someone calls you to follow-up.

The morning after I ordered the product, the Truehope follow-up person called and started asking me personal questions and confirming information I had already given them. Then she asked my diagnosis. I hesitated as I don’t really think it’s any of her business, but then said, “bipolar.” Then she asked me what medications I was on. I told her I was on several and I didn’t want to enumerate them. She said something along the lines of, “our support staff can’t help you if they don’t have a full picture.” I asked her what her qualifications were to be asking such questions and she said that she simply, “set up the file.” Then I asked her what qualifications those support staff have. She said, “they’re educated on the product.”

In other words, the follow-up person has zero qualifications and the support people who will be counselling you have zero qualifications also. (This is true, by the way, it’s just a call center.) And she wants me to hand over my personal, medical information to these people. I don’t think so.

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Why Take the Alternative Treatment EMPowerplus for Bipolar?

→ December 10, 2013 - 61 Comments

Why Take the Alternative Treatment EMPowerplus for Bipolar?

(Preread: What is EMPowerplus by Truehope?)

I’m not doing well. I haven’t been doing well for a long time. It’s quite simple really, every day I fight the bipolar and at the moment, the bipolar is winning.

And when this happens I know what I have to do. I know I have to find an effective treatment. In my 15 years of being treated for bipolar disorder, I can tell you what pulls me out of a depression: medication. Nothing else ever has. Ever. I’ve done everything (believe me) and nothing works except finding the right bipolar medication. I know people don’t want to believe this, but it’s true.

But unfortunately for me, we’re out of bipolar meds. My doctor is out of ideas. I have no good ideas either. If I wanted a drug, my doctor would give it to me, but there’s simply nothing to want because there’s nothing with any evidence behind it that I haven’t tried. And there’s no combination (or combination of combinations) that I haven’t been on. Really.

And the other night I was in my apartment, suicidal as you please, and I desperately decided to try this EMPowerplus stuff. Because, according to some anecdotal evidence and case studies, it appears to have worked for a few people.

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Truehope and the Bipolar “Treatment” EMPowerplus

→ December 9, 2013 - 37 Comments

Truehope and the Bipolar “Treatment” EMPowerplus

I have been wanting to write about the Truehope people (makers of EMPowerplus) for years but I haven’t because, well, I didn’t have anything nice to say, so I didn’t say anything at all. I knew that any critique I made of these people would be met with a slew of hate mail and, really, I get enough of that already.

But now I’m ready to go and at the bottom I’ll tell you why.

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New Antipsychiatry Discussion, L-Theanine, Rapid Cycling Markets – 3 New Things

→ September 1, 2011 - 2 Comments

This week’s three new things include:

  • A new supplement that may help brain health and mental illness: l-theanine
  • A poor comparison between rapid cycling bipolar disorder and the financial markets
  • A new discussion of antipsychiatry

1. New to Me: L-Theanine as an Antidepressant

Maurya, a commenter, asked if I knew anything about l-theanine. Well, I didn’t. Every once in a while even I run across something of which I haven’t heard.

So, for those of you in my boat, here’s a bit about l-theanine:

As always, as this is a supplement it is not FDA-controlled and there is no guarantee as to what you will get in the bottle and you should never take any supplement without first checking with your doctor.

More studies on l-theanine can be found here.

Rapid Cycling Brings Out Stigma Comments2. What I Don’t Like – A Half-Assed Comparison Between Bipolar Disorder and the Financial Markets

I’m a writer so questionable metaphors irk me. And rapid cycling bipolar disorder as a metaphor for the financial marketplace? Really? That’s a whole new level of irk.

If you really want to make that comparison then the bulk of the article should be on the markets and not mental illness, and not the other way around like Lloyd I. Sederer M. D. did in Rapid Cycling Bipolar Disorder: In the Office and On ‘The Street.’

Comments of Mental Illness Stigma

All this poorly-written article did was confuse people and elicit a bunch of anti-bipolar comments like:

“The foundation of the Bi-Polar epidemic is based in suppressed biochemist­ry, outdated understand­ing of genetics and a complete misunderst­anding of our true spiritual nature.”

And,

“So how exactly is this different from saying some people dramatical­ly over-react to external circumstan­ces?

Sorry folks, but this one goes into the notebook for the next philosophi­cal discussion of “medicaliz­ation” as a way of discussing deviance.”

Seems to me he just wanted to use mental illness as an eyeball-grabber, tricking readers onto a topic they would never otherwise read – with the extra bonus of eliciting remarks of stigma.

Gee, thanks.

3. What I Find Interesting – New Discussion of Antipsychiatry

As you might know, I’m not a fan of antipsychiatry folks. I have written a lot on this topic and I’m sure I will write much more in times to come. But I can across this article, Getting It From Both Sides: Foundational and Antifoundational Critiques of Psychiatry which has an interesting discussion of antipsychiatry viewpoints.

Two Sides to Antipsychiatry

It astutely notes there are two sides of antipsychiatry – those who feel that nothing can be defined and thus no mental illness can be defined; and those who feel illness is rigidly defined and mental illness doesn’t meet that definition.

Both sides, as the author says,

“. . . have had the effect of discrediting and marginalizing psychiatry and of delegitimizing psychiatric diagnosis and nosology.”

It’s a very intelligent view of antipsychiatry criticism that is elevated far beyond what we normally see online. Check it out.

Until next week: Smarter and Better.

Diet and Depression / Bipolar

→ July 20, 2009 - Comments off

I’ve written about this before, but due to the amount of misinformation on the internet on this topic, I feel compelled to write about it again.

  • Omega-3 and Depression
  • Folic Acid and Depression
  • Low-Carb Diets and Mood

Now, first off, I do not believe you can cure depression or bipolar using diet. Let me be clear, people who tell you this are mostly flakes. There are ways though that you can possibly improve your treatment plan using dietary components.

Omega-3 and Depression

Omega-3: This is the most well-known and probably well-studied supplement, and it shows a lot of promise. Omega-3 also has been studied for other reasons too and it appears to be good for your heart also, so there are actually a few good reasons to take it.

Omega-3 is, of course, a long chain monounsaturated fat found in a number of foods including fatty fish like salmon. However, understand that you cannot eat enough fish to actually get into a clinical range to help depression. Feel free to eat salmon all you like, but don’t expect it to make you better. Again, people suggesting that you “eat more fatty fish” just really don’t know the research.

Omega-3 Over-the-Counter Supplement

Omega-3 supplements over-the-counter are a little different. They can bump up your omega-3 intake by quite a bit. But don’t by fooled. The big number on the front of the bottle is NOT the amount of omega-3’s you actually get in each capsule. Turn the bottle around to see the ingredients and you’ll see that the amount you get in each capsule might be only a third or less than the number reported on the front. So you might be thinking you’re doing something good for yourself, but just not getting the benefit from it.

So what’s going on here? It’s simple really, supplements are not regulated by anyone and so you never really know what you’re getting. If you’re trying to treat a life-threatening illness, I don’t think this is OK.

Luckily, there is an easy way to solve this problem. There is a pharmaceutical grade omega-3 supplement available for purchase. You just need to go to your doctor or psychiatrist and ask for it. Keep in mind, you should be asked for at least 2 GRAMS of omega-3 because that’s what the studies used. 3 grams would be OK too (and is what I take). Bring in the study abstract for your doctor for review if you don’t think he would be up on it, but it’s pretty widely known. And make sure he knows about the possible side-effects from taking large amounts of omega-3s. Thinning of the blood is one that I know of and so omega-3s should always be stopped several days before surgery. Definitely make sure that your doctor discusses with you anything that may effect yoaffectsonal medical issues.

Assuming you don’t have any specific risks, I have seen no side effects. Yay!

Folic Acid and Depression

Folate / Folic Acid: to be clear, folate is the substance in the body, and folic acid is the supplement you find on the shelf (pregnent woman are generally advised to take it). Folate definitiancies have been studied in depressives along with several other nutrients like B12. However, it appears that folate itself is not the part that’s definitiancy, it’s actually l-methylfolate, which is a compound that is created from folate. And the key here, is that one study has found that no matter how much folic acid you consume, your body may not be able to create enough l-methylfolate to actually fix your deficiency. So by telling you to take folic acid you may be doing absolutely nothing.

Again, luckily there is an easy fix. Your doctor can prescribe you a cheap pharmaceutical grade l-methylfolate supplement. Keep in mind, the number of people who respond to this supplement is very low, but as there don’t seem to be any side-effects (talk to your doctor) there’s no real downside to trying it.

Both of these supplements can/should be taken in addition to your conventional treatment.

Low-Carb Diets and Mood

And one final note. There is some thought that a low carbohydrate diet (like Atkins or South Beach) may adversely affect the serotonin in your brain which may effect mood and cognition. However, there is also evidence suggesting that this is not that case. Personally, I think long-term extreme low-carb diets may be a concern, but over the short term, no difference will probably be noticeable. However, if you have a serious mood disorder, like me, that might affect your choice of diet even if the evidence isn’t clear.