On the 17th of this month, Truehope marked 20 years since the first time someone took our micronutrient formula that has since become our flagship product, EMPowerplus.
Even 20 years later, we proudly continue to produce quality products and offer unique mental health support for our clients. We have witnessed tens of thousands take control of their mental health, and we look forward to helping even more in the years ahead.
How it all got started
The story of Truehope and EMPowerplus began with a father’s desire to save his children. Anthony Stephan’s wife, Debora, had bipolar disorder and took her own life in January of 1994. Debbie’s father had done the same 16 years earlier.
A year later, two of Anthony’s children were diagnosed with Bipolar I, the most severe form of the disorder. Both had been given a variety of heavy psychotropic medications, but became progressively worse. Anthony feared he’d soon lose another loved one to the grip of bipolar affective disorder.
For a year after his wife’s death, Anthony searched medical journals, read books, and poured over everything he could find that might save his children, Autumn and Joe. When a specialist told him to give up and accept his children’s fate — that both would likely be ill, medicated, hospitalized, and possibly die young — Anthony started a new kind of search.
He believed that if there was something that could save his kids, God knew what it was. He prayed ceaselessly, hoping God would hear his cries and have mercy on his broken family.
When he least expected it, his answer came.
Anthony met an animal feed formulator who said the bipolar behaviour of his son, Joseph, sounded to him like a pig with ear-and-tail-biting syndrome and that some farmers had successfully used a nutritional supplementation program to control the syndrome.
Anthony knew he had his answer.
Using the pig feed supplementation idea, the two of them worked with scientists and manufacturers to formulate a human version of the regimen using human-grade supplements. Anthony’s children responded positively to the formula and were able to stop their medications.
Joseph exhibited signs of attention deficit disorder as a child. By the time he entered puberty, the symptoms were escalating into panic attacks, delusions, and violent fits of rage. Ultimately, he was diagnosed with bipolar shortly after Debbie’s death.
Joseph was first treated with lithium, which caused severe side effects. When he refused to take it, he lapsed into severe mania and panic within a couple of days.
On 17 January 1996, Joseph started using the nutritional supplementation program created by his father. The results were dramatic and immediate. Within 4 days he was off the lithium; within two weeks, his mood and emotional control improved immensely. In the years since, he has maintained his well-being and has had no recurring symptoms of bipolar.
By the time she was 12, Anthony’s daughter, Autumn, started showing signs of bipolar, the symptoms of which intensified throughout her teens. She married Dana, had a child at 20, and was later diagnosed with bipolar affective disorder I with rapid cycles, a daily seesaw of mania and depression. Those eventually gave way to regular visual and aural hallucinations and the belief her husband and other family members were conspiring to kill her. These visions often led her to act out violently.
Following a particularly terrifying episode, Autumn was admitted to a psychiatric ward. After many adjustments to her medications, she was released a few weeks later. Drugged and with her cognition impaired, she “broke through” her medications often and was extremely unstable.
After threatening suicide, she was again hospitalized. Upon release, she was taking a pharmaceutical cocktail of Haldol, Rivotril, Ativan, Epival and Cogentin, a combination that failed to control her psychosis. She continued to rapid cycle.
Told Autumn would need round-the-clock adult supervision, Dana took her to Anthony to begin the alternative treatment that had helped her brother. Within 4 days, she was forced to drop Haldol and Rivotril because of the drastically increasing side effects. Ativan was no longer required once the hallucinations ceased. After one week on the program, she returned home to her husband. Less than a month later, she reduced, then eliminated, the mood stabilizer Epival.
Autumn’s recovery exceeded the expectations of her psychiatrist, doctor, and family. The woman who was expected to stay a prisoner of bipolar, confined by a medley of psychotropic drugs, and pursued by thoughts of suicide for the rest of her life, continues to be healthy and stable to this day.
As Anthony’s children recovered and began to resume healthy lives, word spread through the community. Anthony was happy to share his recipe, and soon hundreds of people were trying this early version of what is now EMPowerplus.
Reports of success continued to pour in and Anthony knew there was more to do to bring this discovery to the world. Later that year, he formed a company to refine and produce the formula of various micronutrient treatments taken individually.
He sought to bring the results to the attention of scientists, who he hoped would research this unorthodox approach. He realized he had stumbled on a clue that could lead to a new understanding of what causes mental illnesses and how to treat them.
Anthony systematically gathered information and data from new micronutrient treatment users and presented it to Dr. Bryan Kolb, a world-renowned neuropsychologist at the University of Lethbridge in southern Alberta. Intrigued, Dr. Kolb sent Anthony to see Dr. Bonnie Kaplan, a behavioural research scientist at the University of Calgary.
Although initially skeptical, Dr. Kaplan agreed to try the micronutrient treatment in a preliminary trial. To facilitate the research, Anthony put all the necessary ingredients into one capsule that could be administered easily. He found a manufacturer who would produce the product to his exact specifications, and he called the product EMPowerplus.
Once the all-in-one micronutrient treatment was available, Kaplan and her colleagues put together preliminary open trials. These studies showed that nutrition held significant promise as a treatment for mental illness, confirming the need for further research and grabbing the attention of researchers and specialists across North America.
Today, EMPowerplus has been the subject of 29 clinical studies, making it the most researched micronutrient formula in the world.
Our focus continues to be to make sure EMPowerplus is available to all who have mental health challenges. We hope that as scientists play their part and as governments consider the welfare of all of their citizens, natural therapies like EMPowerplus will be available through standard medical systems.