PsychEducation.org (home)

Empower/Truehope testimonial

My complete summary of the TrueHope story, as I've seen it play over the last decade, is on my EMPower Plus page.  

Here is a letter from a woman who has been using Empower plus for years; used with permission, though she did not originally write to endorse the product, just to inform me (I've omitted a few details that might be identifying, and added a few editorial remarks in italics).


I have been using the truehope program for five years.  It wasn't Empower Plus to begin with.  By the way, I am a user of the product, not an insider.  However, I am thinking about joining them in the political fight because it looks as though I might not receive my medication because of the problems with Health Canada

There have been three incarnations of the product.  The first was, I think, referred to as the quad program, because there were four separate nutritional products to take.  It was okay, but not the best.  In 2000 it became EMPower Plus and was manufactured by Evince International.  There was a big improvement for me (and others, so I have heard...and i have a friend who also uses it with great success...after six years of ten drugs that did nothing in some cases, and SSRI's made him worse)  The average dose was 16 pills a day, the initial "loading" dose was 32.  I started on 24, because I hate taking pills.  I know that still sounds like an obscene amount of pills, but they didn't contain much per pill. 

[Here’s a crucial paragraph:  notice she describes an accidential “on-off-on” test of the pills, which seems to show that what she’s taking, and not solely her expectations, has a huge impact on her mood -- JP]   There was a three-way split in the co-operation/organisation sometime last year and a man named [omitted - JP] phoned me to tell me about it.  He misled me to believe that truehope no longer existed and told me that he had hooked up with a company to make the same stuff, but with some added amino acids.  Well, I ordered it, expecting the same effects.  A week or so after starting them I was back to my depression (oh, yeah, I'm not bi-polar but a straight depressive).  I got on the phone and called the old truehope phone number thinking I would end up with Evince, but I got truehope.  I was both relieved and pissed off, as you can imagine.  Anyway, truehope had a new manufacturer, and I received the stuff, good as always.  It was, however, only necessary to take an average of nine pills a day.  For me, I have found six to be sufficient.  They said that the powder was made finer and so more of it fit in each pill.  Also, I had noticed from the start that the Evince product had a lot of filler (these things are on the label, though I suspect most people don't realise that is what the ingredients really are).  This version has no filler.  Most vits you find have filler in them, people don't seem accustomed to paying a lot of money for vits...blame the Flintstones;)

I have had depression since I was a teenager.  I also have had problems with anxiety, and the occasional panic attack, though they were rare.  My depression ruined a lot of my life, and at the worst points all I could think about was killing myself, I would spend most of the day with these thoughts - life was such a misery that there seemed little reason to bother living, and all the pain gave me plenty of reason for dieing.  However, the reason for living that kept me alive was my husband.  Though there were even times when i resented him because I wanted to just pack it in, but I loved him too much to hurt him.  I could go on extensively about how depression affected me, but you know the score.  I blamed my dad and didn't speak to him for six years (my dad is a perfectly normal dad...nice guy actually.  I have no history of abuse, but a great family).  At one point I was on the run from myself (it's amazing how you can lie to yourself), and was sleeping in a tent under a bridge.  Not a great life.

I doubt my husband would have been able to keep me going.  If it weren't for truehope I would most likely be dead.  I'm not being dramatic, there just seemed to be little reason for living and dieing seemed the only way to make all the shit stop.

EMPower Plus is not a "happy pill", it does not make me "better than well".  It gives me a level playing field.  I feel sadness, anger, and frustration as would be normal for a difficult situation.  But I am able to feel joy and tranquility now.  This was not possible before.  It provides for me a level playing field, neither high nor low.

[Below you’ll find her view of the political mess that now surrounds Empower/Truehope.  I’ve included it because this woman took the trouble to write the above testimonial, and gave permission for its use; so it seems fair to include the rest of her analysis of the situation, from her somewhat unique point of view.  I do not intend to endorse her view by including it; rather I endorse hearing out all views of this mess, assuming that there might be something worth hearing – JP]

I realise that I am just another case study as opposed to a part of a RCT [randomized clinical trial; our usual "gold standard" in medicine-- JP].  But, as you are aware, the RCT was shut down.  Why is it that in order to get approval from Health Canada a medicine needs RCT proof, yet the RCT study get shut down?  This smacks of something foul.  Same goes for Health Canada having Customs seize goods because they are a commercial shipment (a shipment of individual orders with individual order numbers, bills, and private addresses doesn't sound like a commercial shipment to me), then phone the individuals who were supposed to (and never did) receive the product and ask them medical questions.  A bureaucrat at Health Canada has no right to phone me and ask me for personal medical information.  I'm sure truehope aren't perfect, nor do they claim to be.  But they have provided me with a life-preserving medicine.  I know that the whole notion of vit/min successfully treating serious mental illness seems like quackery, it is very easy to pick on.  But it is very easy to pick on crazy people too.

I have just finished reading Dr. David Healy's book "Let Them Eat Prozac".  He is a psychopharmacologist, and he believes that drugs (SSRI's) do work for some people.  These SSRI's are being marketed and sold to people who don't need them, would not benefit from them, and some of these people end up suffering from very serious side effects which the manufacturers have done a cover-up job on.  One of those side-effects is suicide.  I started in University (but never finished because the illness got too bad) studying psychology.  My aim was actually animal behaviour, but most of what I studied was human psychology.  Even our first year text book mentioned the anecdotal evidence of suicide being a side-effect of SSRI's as opposed to suicide only from the disease itself.  Dr. Healy has made a conclusive case.  As I said, he still believes these drugs are useful for some people.  But he points out not only their possible side-effects but their low efficacy.  Marketing SSRI's to children knowing they have no greater effect than a placebo, are (in some cases) highly addictive, and can cause suicide & suicide ideation is quackery in my book.  They have simply bought up enough scientific research and ghost-scientists to make everything look legit.  At this point in history natural medicine looks anything but legit.  And with crackdowns on studies it will never get anywhere.  EMPower Plus won't work for everyone, of course not.  But they don't recommend cutting your meds without medical supervision.  If someone decides to do that, it is their decision.  Discontinuations should be slow, and balanced with observed benefits from the vits.  What is the point in continuing to take pharmaceuticals when you don't need them anymore?

I haven't been able to find the papers/websites where Health Canada gives reasons for canceling the  RCT.  But, from the activist page www.redumbrellas.ca (which quotes only bits and pieces) it seems as though there have been a few mistakes.  For starters, they get the type of germanium wrong, and there is a big difference.  They also say the doses are too high, and talk about 32 pills a day.  As I said earlier, it used to be a loading does of 32 when there was less real mixture per pill.  Now, the max. dose is 18.  I'm not sure how they did their math, but it couldn't have been very well.  One of the things that i remarked upon when seeing the numbers on the EMPower Plus bottle was that it was lower in most vits than an over-the-counter health food store variety of multi-vit/min.  You can walk into a canadian health food store and pick up a vit. B complex with 25mg, 50mg, or 100mg of such b's as B1, B3, B6.  Others are lower, no one needs more than 1mg of folic acid, for example.  But EMPower Plus B1 is 9mg, B3 is 45mg, B6 is 18mg.  This is on a 9 pill a day dose.  

As for Mr. Marvin Ross, he has no right to call anyone a quack with dodgey financial ties.  The man runs a PR firm.  His website says that Mr. Ross "...does a great deal of writing for the pharmaceutical industry.  He writes summaries of conference symposia and continuing medical education programs for physicians"  You and I both know that the conferences are almsot entirely a walking talking ad for whatever drug the particular company is selling.  I have a friend at Canada Customs who is amazed at the doctors coming to Whistler (Canada's prime tourist ski resort) for these conferences.  They talk about what fun the skiing will be and what a drag it is they have to show up for two hours of a conference.  Not all (obviously), but many scientists just use this as a free vacation.  I have read letters in "The Globe and Mail" (a national newspaper here) from doctors who just can't accept the "medical education" the pharma companies are giving and lament the loss of independent education and studies.  The medical education of the pharmas is also characterized as not much more than brochures.  Mr. Ross is also a publicists (which is of course PR) and a marketing manager for his local film industry.  This man appears to be part of the ghost science industry.  I'll quote Dr. Healy here:  "Given that everyone knows that journal supplements carry a health warning, where's the problem [with ghost writing]?  For some time now, the Web sites of some major writing agencies have indicated that their reach extends far beyond writing for symposium supplements.  Take Current Medical Directions (CMD) for instance.  CMD are a medical information company based in New York, established in 1990 'to deliver scientifically accurate information strategically developed for specific target audiences' (quote from Web site).  This agency writes up studies, review articles, abstracts, journal supplements, product monographs, expert commentaries, and textbook chapters.  It conducts meta-analyses, and organizes journal supplements, satellite symposia, consensus conferences, and even advisory boards for its clients."  This is quackery.

The connections between the pharma industry, science, and regulatory bodies are blurring and crossing the lines that should divide them.  Dr. Healy lost a job because he spoke out in order to protect patients.  The same happened to Dr. Nancy Olivieri...she even got hate mail from a co-worker who worked for the company she had ticked off (be being honest about the risks and efficacy of a drug she was investigating for them).  You guessed it, the co-worker was receiving money from the same drug company, but he was also found to have a conflict of interest.  Dr. Olivieri is now part of Doctor's for Research Integrity.  You can find them at www.doctorsintegrity.org

I'm sorry this is so long, I hadn't intended it to be.  But, for obvious reasons, it is an emotional issue for me too.  I have tried to stop this treatment, to no avail.  It is not addictive, but I end up in that depressive state again.  I have been to see a counseller, and she helped me to build up my self-confidence after a lifetime of it being kicked down by illness.  This helped a lot, but it doesn't replace a biological solution.  The founders of truehope have family members with mentall illness who could not be successfully treated with drugs but are now healthy because of EMPower Plus.  This is why this is a fight they cannot afford to lose, why they seem rather emotional to you, and why the situation may seem a little odd.  They are groping their way through this maze of outdated regulations (Health Canada's definition of "drug" is from 1936), and naysayers who attack them with the religious zeal truehope are accused of using.  So why are the pigpill book guys so emotional?

Hope this is of some help to you.