December 18, 2000
|From pig feed to miracle cure
A mineral-vitamin blend can heal manic depression and possibly other mental illnesses
by Mike Byfield
The disease raging through the Stephan family is called
bipolar affective disorder, formerly known as manic depression.
American health authorities estimate that it afflicts about 2%
of the population, double the rate for schizophrenia. A bipolar
victim cycles between a high-energy manic phase and despairing
depression. Delusions occur in either phase. For instance, one
bipolar patient planted coins in the Alberta Legislature's
gardens, believing that money trees would grow and help reduce
taxes. If not controlled with drugs, one-fifth to one-quarter of
bipolar victims commit suicide.
Sometimes no drug helps. "We exhausted every resource of
the medical community," recalls Mr. Stephan. "I
couldn't work myself because of the stress, so we were also in
financial difficulties. I pled and bled on my knees, praying to
our heavenly Father for help." Usually, in his experience,
divine help arrives in the form of other people. First came
Barbara, who married the hard-pressed widower and was accepted
by his children because she'd been a friend of their mother.
Then, Mr. Stephan met David Hardy, a fellow Mormon who lives
nearby in the southern Alberta town of Raymond.
Mr. Hardy, a biologist by training, operated a company which
custom-blended nutrients for cattle and hog feed. "Pigs,
like humans, suffer from central nervous system disorders,"
says Mr. Hardy, who has 13 children himself. The most common
swine ailment of this type is called ear- and tail-biting
syndrome. The animals become hyper-irritable, tearing off each
other's ears and tails, and sometimes killing pen-mates.
The two friends recognized a startling difference between
nervous disorders in humans and hogs. In animals, these
illnesses are almost always curable by adding carefully designed
nutraceuticals (minerals, vitamins and amino acids) into their
feed. For humans, in grim contrast, bipolar disorder and other
nervous diseases can at best be masked or suppressed by
psychotropic medicines. The root causes are not removed, and the
drugs leave patients feeling mentally and physically
debilitated. Holding a job remains either difficult or
impossible, for example.
"As David spoke about animal nutrition, a deep peace
settled over me," Mr. Stephan reports. "I sensed
spiritually that my kids were going to be okay. I knew we were
onto an answer, that there would be work to do and it would
succeed." On January 18, 1996, his third son Joseph began
consuming a nutraceutical supplement concocted by livestock
specialist Hardy. "Joseph calls himself Patient Zero. The
goal was to keep him from being forced into the hospital,"
Tony Stephan explains.
Four days after the treatment began, Joseph's lithium
prescription ran out. Father and son wished to leave him on the
nutraceutical alone, which was already having an effect. Lithium
is a common drug used to treat bipolar disorder. Barbara
Stephan, deeply concerned for her stepson's safety, insisted on
buying another bottle, but it was never needed. Within 30 days,
Joseph was entirely free of manic depressive symptoms. Today,
almost five years later, he works and lives normally.
On February 17, 1996, his sister began the same treatment. At
that point Autumn Stringam had to be watched 24 hours a day by
her husband Dana or another adult. Pill bottles literally
covered the top of her refrigerator. She was frequently suicidal
and had been hospitalized several times. "When we drove
somewhere and I got thirsty, I'd shriek at my husband until he
stopped the car and ran for a drink," Ms. Stringam says.
"Or I'd lie in bed all day while my two-year-old son James
ate apples because I didn't feed him. In ways that no normal
person can understand, I lived in darkness, year after
Within a week of taking the nutritional supplement, the
mother had dropped four of her five pharmaceutical medications.
By March 29 she was drug-free. "Dana was frightened by my
recovery; it seemed too rapid," Ms. Stringam recalls.
"My thoughts slowed down, all the noisy garbage disappeared
from my mind. The illness has never returned. I can't describe
Against her doctor's advice, she decided to have another
baby. Samantha was born last Christmas Eve. "Researchers
suspect that pregnancy often triggers bipolar psychosis due to
hormonal changes," she says. "During my pregnancy with
Samantha, I would sometimes feel the symptoms starting to return
just like they did with James. But when I increased my
supplement intake, the symptoms disappeared. I think pregnancy
draws minerals and other nutrients out of the mother's body as
the baby forms, greatly increasing the risk of a psychotic
episode. That would explain why my problem was entirely solved
by loading up with more nutraceutical."
Other bipolar sufferers showed up, drawn by word of mouth.
More successes ensued. The supplement, named EM Power, contains
36 ordinary minerals, vitamins and amino acids, the key being
the balance between them. At that point, Mr. Hardy realized that
only scientific validation would allow the discovery to reach as
many bipolar victims as possible in the shortest possible time.
So he and Mr. Stephan began trekking to Calgary and Edmonton in
search of help.
"I told them to take their snake oil somewhere
else," says Bonnie Kaplan, a research psychologist at the
University of Calgary. Her skepticism is understandable. Hordes
of quacks and half-educated health enthusiasts preach nutrition
theories. Results of Abram Hoffer's vitamin work with
schizophrenics in Saskatchewan as far back as the 1960s,
although scientific, failed to impress most psychiatrists.
One man who did listen to Mr. Hardy was Brian Kolb, a
neurologist who studies brain cell regeneration. His world-wide
reputation has prompted the University of Lethbridge to
construct a building, in large part to house his laboratory
work. Although skeptical, the affable scientist discussed which
mineral forms are most easily absorbed by the human body. He
also showed Messrs. Hardy and Stephan how to collect patient
data. Basically, subjects rate their own symptoms day by day on
As the data started to come in, Prof. Kolb visited several
families, confirming the integrity of the reporting. Alerted by
her U of L colleague, pediatrics professor Kaplan also found
herself impressed. She and Steve Simpson, a psychiatrist at
Foothills Hospital in Calgary, decided to test EM Power on
"the first 10 male bipolar patients who came through the
door." The results, presented at a meeting of the Canadian
Psychiatric Association in Victoria, B.C., on October 4 were
"extremely encouraging," according to the two
researchers. "Our study shows that, on average, people
taking the supplements find their symptoms are reduced by more
than 50% compared with the symptoms they experienced while
taking their usual medications," says Prof. Kaplan, adding
that her conclusion is conservative.
Meanwhile, Alberta Innovation and Science Minister Lorne
Taylor had been favorably moved by Autumn Stringam's case
history when she and her father visited him. "They come
across as sound, good people," says the Medicine Hat MLA.
In due course a Kaplan-Simpson application to fund a definitive,
double-blind testing of the effectiveness of EM Power came
across his desk. Such proposals are reviewed by an external
committee of scientific peers and a second ministerial committee
which also includes businessfolk. Mr. Taylor pressed for
approval. In October, Alberta Innovation announced a $554,000
grant to the University of Calgary which will be used to assess
100 patients over two years.
Although bipolar cures have been the most dramatic, EM Power
is reportedly also showing good results with schizophrenia,
obsessive compulsive disorder, attention deficit disorder and
other diseases of the nervous system. Why are people's brains
short of trace minerals that are literally as common as dirt?
"Farming draws minerals out of the soil year after year and
these nutrients are not replaced by conventional fertilizers.
The result is mineral-deficient food," observes David
Hardy. One United Nations report shows mineral content in
cropped soils falls by 80%.
Even more perplexing is how researchers missed this seemingly
simple healing strategy. "Scientists are trained to include
just one variable, say Vitamin B12, in their research. By
varying one factor only, they can most easily determine exactly
why and how different results occur," replies Mr. Hardy.
One of North America's top schizophrenia researchers told Prof.
Kaplan recently that "experimentation containing more than
one variable is not science." In the pig-feeding business,
by comparison, nutritionists experimented until they got the
right results. It helps that hogs in barns eat only what they
are fed. Concludes Mr. Hardy, "Nutrition incorporates
complex interactions between many variables, which must be
present in the appropriate balance."
A blend of minerals and vitamins is difficult to patent,
which also limits commercial research interest. Messrs. Hardy
and Stephan have incorporated the Synergy Group of Canada Inc.,
but they have made no plans for patents. "We hope many
companies research and make nutraceuticals along the lines of EM
Power," Tony Stephan comments. "We'd like to place our
Synergy seal on reputable products for a very modest fee. That
money would go toward setting up Truehope rehabilitation homes
for street people, who are often mentally ill. In Truehope
homes, men and women would be brought back to health and
prepared to be employable. That's the dream of David, myself and
our families. When my children discuss our vision around the
kitchen table, they've sometimes said, 'Maybe our mother didn't
die in vain.'"
bipolar victims help heal hundreds of others
Simonne Maline, a psychiatric social worker from Portland,
Maine, says a degree of caution is necessary. After her first
bipolar manic episode in 1992, doctors fed her more than 60
types of medication over four years. Ms. Maline was taking four
"meds" at a cost of about US$700 per month when she
went onto EM Power last May 11. "Within a week, I started
noticing an effect. My bipolar symptoms were getting
worse!" Her Synergy TA urged her to reduce her psychotropic
medicines. "As a person gets physically healthier, the
drugs must be cut back or they'll make you sick," explains
TA Dan Stephan. But Ms. Maline's psychiatrist opted to increase
the psychotropic doses to combat the symptoms.
"Fortunately, we got it right before anything tragic
occurred," says the American patient. "I was off all
drugs by August. I feel completely healthy. I still can't
believe how easy it is. Miles Simmons, my psychiatrist, now has
five other patients on this therapy and they are all
recovering." EM Power tablets cost Cdn$90 per bottle of 448
capsules. Initial recovery normally requires two bottles
monthly. A maintenance dose can be as little as a half-bottle
Mental illness costs the Alberta government $2 billion a
year. "Because drug plans do not pay for nutraceuticals and
many of these poor people are not employed, we will probably
soon have to look at how they can be helped," says Alberta
Innovation Minister Lorne Taylor. Synergy has about 50 active
TAs, most of them former bipolar victims who work for expenses.
To date, they have helped more than 1,000 fellow sufferers. The
Lethbridge-based firm can be reached at 1-888-TRUEHOP or via the
Internet at www.truehope.com.