How a psychologist changed her mind about EMPowerplus

Dr. Bonnie Kaplan, a behavioural psychologist at the University of Calgary, was one of the first researchers to study EMPowerplus. Her ground-breaking work sparked interest in scientists from around the world to participate in further EMPowerplus research.

Dr. Kaplan told the story of how she was introduced to Truehope and EMPowerplus when she testified as an expert witness in Truehope’s 2006 court victory over Health Canada. Here are a few excerpts from her court testimony:

An email

I had been doing research in nutrition before, but I was not familiar with the people who became Truehope until May of 1996, I received an e-mail from Dr. Bryan Kolb, who’s on the faculty at the University of Lethbridge. He’s also a physiological psychologist-neuroscientist. Dr. Kolb knew that I had an interest in nutrition; he knew that I had been studying children with ADHD and mood problems and so forth. He e-mailed me and said, “There are some people in my office who I think you should meet. They believe that they’re helping children with ADHD using some nutritional intervention, vitamins, minerals.”

“I refused to meet with them”

I e-mailed back saying I didn’t want to meet them, that I had met with every flake in Alberta, and I didn’t want to deal with any more flaky people. I was tired of doing nutrition research; it seemed to bring out a kind of person I didn’t enjoy working with, so I refused to meet with them. But I said, “Bryan, if you want to work with them, I’ll fax you some questionnaires that are kind of state-of-the-art questionnaires for what we’re using in our studies with ADHD”.

A small group of children

I faxed him the questionnaires and totally put it out of my mind. I literally forgot about it until 11 August 1996, when I received a fax from Dr. Kolb consisting of a statistical analysis of a small group of children. On the graph that he faxed to me, it just said “vitamins” and nothing more. I was surprised because I, certainly in 1996, didn’t believe that any kind of vitamin supplement could affect mental health. In fact, I’d say that I was quite closed minded about it.

At any rate, it was startling enough—because it was statistically significant—that I picked up the phone and called him and said, who are these people and what are they doing? He actually wasn’t sure. He said, “They’re giving kids a bunch of pills and liquids, and I don’t know what all is in them. Bonnie, you know more about nutrition, why don’t you meet with them?”

And that’s how I agreed to meet with the people who eventually became Truehope.

Searching for scientific validation

They hadn’t formed Truehope then. They were just a couple of guys from Southern Alberta who believed that they had helped people with mental problems. They believed they had made a breakthrough and they were going around to people like me searching for scientific validation. They just wanted people to do research on what they considered to be a breakthrough.

“It warranted research”

I decided I shouldn’t be closed minded—we’re not supposed to be in science—and I could see that these 3 people at that first meeting were not scam artists; they were quite genuine. They were describing observations that they were quite certain they’d seen. For Autumn, her own personal experiences were very, very compelling. My conclusion was that it warranted research. I was extremely busy with other research, but I agreed to do a little pilot study and pursue the topic.

It was hard after hearing their stories not to get involved.