Supplements may help treat bipolar disorder

Bipolar disorder may be treatable with nutritional supplements, according to researchers at the University of Calgary.

U of C Faculty of Medicine professors Bonnie Kaplan and Steve Simpson presented their team’s research at the Canadian Psychiatric Association’s annual meeting earlier this month.

"It’s a broad spectrum nutritional supplement," said Kaplan. "It has 36 ingredients; most of them are minerals."

The supplement, called E.M. Power+, also contains vitamins, metals and antioxidants.

"The supplement was first administered by Anthony F. Stephan and David L. Hardy for the benefit of two of the Stephan children," said a Synergy Group of Canada Inc. press release. "To have our research findings validated by [the U of C] makes us very proud and hopeful."

In the U of C study, the supplement was given to 10 male patients for one and a half to six months.

"In most cases, the supplement has entirely replaced psychoactive medications," the report stated. "Side effects have been rare, minor and transitory."

Other benefits of the treatment have already been realized.

"The people who’ve gone on the supplement are not ending back in hospitals," said Kaplan. "There’s savings in hospitalization [costs.]"

According to Kaplan, further studies of this treatment are warranted. A longer placebo-controlled study of the supplement began in July and is being funded by the Alberta Science and Research Authority. The trial, which will include about 100 people, is set to be completed in 2002 and will yield more long-term results.
Bipolar disorder affects approximately one per cent of the population in Canada and is characterized by a major depressive episode after a period of mania lasting up to four months, according to the Canadian Mental Health Association.

Symptoms of bipolar disorder include a sudden onset of exhilaration and giddiness, unwarranted optimism and delusions of grandeur in the manic phase, while feelings of worthlessness, hopelessness, helplessness, total indifference and guilt accompany the depressive phase. Patients who are currently treated with a combination of psychotherapy and psychotropic medications may benefit from the new supplement.

"The patients studied by the Calgary team found their symptoms are reduced by more than 50 per cent compared to the symptoms they experienced while taking their usual medications," said Kaplan. "For some patients, the supplement has entirely replaced their psychotropic medication."

Kaplan says that in addition to the treatment of bipolar disorder, the supplement may have other potential uses.

"The reality is that it’s not restricted to bipolar disorder," said Kaplan. "It looks especially promising as a mood stabilizer in a variety of situations."

To find out more about the supplement or bipolar disorder, consult your mental health practitioner. If you are interested in participating in the research, your health practitioner can call Dr. Kaplan at 229-7365 or Dr. Simpson at 670-1272.

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