Truehope or Truehype? An analysis of EMpower

This is a long article, so fair warning. I had never heard of Truehope until the last couple of years. I learned of it from videos and comments on Youtube. I’ve never tried it either. The window of opportunity when that might have interested me came and went a decade ago. Nevertheless people continue to ask my opinions about it so here you go.

During my early twenties I read some books by Dr. Andrew Weil and became interested in nutrition. My first vitamins I ever tried as an adult were these UltraMultiPak vitamins you find on the counter by the register at convenience stores and gas stations. Later on I became more discerning and discriminating about supplements and tried all kinds of different formulas.

Truly I felt better when I started taking them. I worked a lot of hours back then doing hard physical labor. I smoked and consumed caffeinated and sugared beverage all day. I did a lot of drugs.

When you live like that you can very well become ‘deficient’ and taking a Flintstones kids vitamin, a Centrum Silver for seniors or even a prenatal multivitamin can help you bear the load of bad habits, indulgence and heavy toxicity. You have more endurance and sleep better when you take a multivitamin and have a stressful, toxic lifestyle.

I tried all kinds of herbs like ginseng, dong quai, black cohosh, ginko biloba, valerian root, lavender, St John’s wort. I’ve tried all sorts of stuff like: fish oil, DHEA, pregnenalone, L-triptophan, phenylanaline and melatonin. I jumped on the supplement wagon with both feet right away. In my opinion, supplements can very useful and helpful.

Now let’s take a look at Truehope.  When I first heard about it somebody came to one of my videos and completely off topic leaves the comment “Try Truehope, it cures bipolar.” Honestly after my experiences in healing my own mental health issues and considering the years of hard work and trial and error, I was immediately and rightfully skeptical. That’s what caused me to take a look at the Truehope/EMpower videos on YT.

Let us now take a moment to examine the underlying back story behind Empower.

The story involves a conversation between two Canadian Mormons, Anthony Stephen and David Hardy. The story goes something like this. Mr Stephen, a property manager was complaining to his fellow church goer Mr Hardy about his children’s behavior. Namely some symptoms of ADD and some manic components of bipolar. Mr Hardy, whose experience as a cattle feed salesman informed him, stated that some of these behaviors sounded similar to a condition that occurs to domestic pig farms, Ear and Tail Biting Syndrome.

Mr Hardy offered up that information that introducing vitamins and minerals into pig food seemed to clear up ETBS. Some theorycrafting between the two of these men soon resulted with the conclusion that by introducing vitamins and minerals to Mr Stephen’s children that the human version of Ear and Tail Biting Syndrome might just clear up and what did he have to lose but to try?

Unfortunately, Mr Hardy failed to mention that there is no scientific evidence whatsoever which indicates that ETBS is caused by mineral or vitamin deficiency. In fact, what production pig farmers have found is that ETBS was remedied by changing the taste of the pig feed, by adding or removing pigs from the population and giving pigs toys to play with.

The consensus among production pig farmers is that boredom seems to be the most likely cause of ETBS and shaking up the pigs routine with new stimulus seems to clear ETBS up promptly. Pigs are smart, curious and exploratory. If I was doing time in a pig pen with nothing to interest me I might get irritable too. It makes sense that ETBS is not really a syndrome per se but a pig social and behavioral problem resulting from confinement that clears up for awhile as soon you divert the pigs with something new.

It is true that shotgunning a mix of vitamins and minerals at pigs who demonstrated ETBS has in some cases, cleared up the EBTS in those pigs. However, correlation does not prove causation and there are no concrete scientific studies which validate the mineral deficiency = EBTS theory.

Synergy Group, the company behind Truehope makes several claims about the science behind and manufacturing of their supplement. Let’s examine some of those claims.

The first thing you should know about Synergy Group’s Empower formula is that it contains nearly forty run-of-the mill vitamins and minerals that you can find in many other supplement formulas. During my research for this the first thing I did was to go to the Truehope website where they list the ingredients for Empower.

Synergy Group is not the only company that lists their supplement ingredients. During my research I checked out Centrum formulas like Centrum Silver and Centrum Active. I checked out GNC formulas like Solotron Platinum and Women’s Hair, Skin and Nail formula. I checked out Flintstone’s multivitamin for kids. I checked out a generic prenatal formula sold at Walgreen’s.

The website would have you believe that “EMPowerplus contains a broad spectrum of vitamins and trace minerals in a balance designed specifically for people with mental illnesses”

Synergy Group is Mr Stephen and Mr Hardy and their paid employees, admins and consultants. Syngery Group’s marketing department would have you believe that Mr Stephen whose background is in property managing and Mr Hardy whose background is in sales, have, between the two of them, figured out the precise metabolic and nutritional differences between otherwise healthy people and people with ADHD, schizophrenia, Tourette’s, Bipolar Disorder, Obsessive Compulsive and many more mental health problems.

How do these two guys know what the precise zinc or Vitamin A requirements a person with depression needs? When did these experiments take place? Where is this massive testing population that would have been necessary to determine the exact amount of say, Vitamin B2 or calcium that a bipolar needs versus what someone with ADHD needs versus what a healthy person’s levels are?

The wording of that statement:

“In a balance designed specifically for people with mental illnesses”

implies that these two men have all this information figured out. Empower is claimed to be formulated to remedy the deficiencies caused by bipolar, ADHD and even schizophrenia. When we compare Empower to some of the above multivitamins from other brands we don’t really have huge differences but there are some. Here is just a sample for comparison.

Amount of Biotin per formula.

Empower: 3000mcg
Centrum: 3000mcg
GNC: 30mcg
Flintstone’s: 40mcg
Walgreen’s Prenatal: 0mcg

Amount of Vitamin A per formula

Empower: 1536 IU
Centrum: 5000 IU
GNC: 15000 IU
Flintstone’s: 3000 IU
Walgreen’s prenatal: 4000 IU

Amount of Folic Acid (vitamin B9) per formula

Empower: 384 mcg
Centrum:  400 mcg
GNC: 400 mcg
Flintstone’s: 400 mcg
Walgreen’s Prenatal: 800 mcg

Amount of Calcium per formula

Empower: 352 mg
Centrum: 1000 mg
GNC: 200 mg
Flintstone’s: 100 mg
Walgreen’s Prenatal: 200 mg

Amount of Riboflavin (Vitamin B2) per formula

Empower: 3.6 mg
Centrum: 1.7 mg
GNC: 35 mg
Flintstone’s:  1.7 mg
Walgreen’s Prenatal: 1.7 mg

Amount of Iron per formula

Empower: 3.7 mg
Centrum:  18 mg
GNC: 10 mg
Flintstone’s: 18 mg
Walgreen’s Prenatal: 28 mg

Amount of Niacin per formula

Empower: 24 mg
Centrum: 20 mg
GNC: 35 mg
Flintstone’s: 15 mg
Walgreen’s Prenatal: 20 mg

Amount of Choline per formula

Empower: ??mcg
Centrum: 0 mcg
GNC: 50 mcg
Flintstone’s: 38 mg
Walgreen’s Prenatal: 0 mcg

Amount of Inositol per formula

Empower ?? mcg
Centrum: 0 mcg
GNC: 50 mcg
Flintstone’s: 0 mcg
Walgreen’s Prenatal: 0 mcg

Synergy Group makes the claim that many people who suffer from mental illness may be deficient in vitamins, minerals and amino acids. There seems to be some scientific evidence that backs that up.

Did you know?

There are clinical lab tests, blood and urine analysis which can determine if you truly have a nutritional deficiency. It is not logical to assume you are deficient in anything unless you know that you are not routinely eating balanced nutritious meals.

Before you start stuffing your gullet with overdoses of vitamins and minerals be sure you actually have a deficiency. Otherwise, it is a total waste of money as your body’s natural balancing act will simply flush all the unneeded and excess vitamins and minerals out of your body anyway.

Did you know?

Clinical testing of Empower’s formula has demonstrated that the actual concentration of the supposed specially balanced ingredients can vary as widely as 70% per batch. I suspect that this is not necessarily an EMpower issue and more of an artifact of bulk industrial processing that occurs to other supplements too but still.

Can you imagine if the caffeine in your morning coffee fluctuated as much as 70%? If treated with lithium, can you imagine the lithium fluctuating as much as 70% per dose? If taking morphine for post surgical pain management can you imagine if it fluctuated up to 70% per dose? Can you imagine if the alcohol in good old cheap American beer fluctuated that much per bottle?

Whether we use substances for medical or recreational purpose a 70% variation in potency would be absolutely unacceptable if we are trying to maintain a certain blood level of a chemical to gain it’s effects consistently. Now we are to assume that the efficacy of the carefully selected and balanced Empower formula is just fine with as much as 70% variance?

One supporting claim made by Synergy Group is that the consumer gains more benefit from Empower due to the chelation processing that they put their supplement through which supposedly increases the bioavailability of their formula.

Did you know?

Chelating minerals does in fact make them more bioavailable when the process is done thoroughly.

Did you know?

The chelation process is laborious, time consuming and costly. In bulk industrial processing only a portion of the mixture, anywhere from 50 to 60 percent is properly chelated.

Did you know?

No matter how much chelation a mineral goes through, no matter how bioavailable it is your body can only absorb a certain amount which differs from person to person somewhat. When your body has reached that amount the remainder is passed out through urine and stool within a day or two.

Did you know?

Synergy Group is not the only supplement company that puts their formula through a chelation process. On any given night at the chelation plant, the Empower formula is just one of several lots from different companies being processed. You can find chelated formulas from other suppliers.

Did you know?

The best, most natural bioavailable form of consuming vitamins and minerals takes places in our intestines as our own digestive process naturally chelates the organic compounds in food like broccoli or walnuts or fish or whatever. You don’t actually need chelated formulas, your body can chelate biomolecules just fine.

As I mentioned earlier, I am a proponent of nutritional awareness for mental health recovery. I am not trying to encourage or discourage anyone from trying Empower. My advice, if you intend on trying it, would be to first give a few, cheaper, multivitamin formulas a try.

Do an experiment on yourself. Try one multivitamin for four weeks and take notes on how you feel. Try a different multivitamin for another four weeks and take notes on how you feel. You may very well find yourself gaining some mental or emotional benefit from them. Then, if you want to be sure, go ahead and try some Empower for four weeks and see if it makes a difference.

If you feel much better on it than on other supplements you may be on to something. If you notice the benefits are more or less the same as what you were getting from your Other Brand Multivitamin then there is no reason to spend the extra money on Empower.

While the Bipolar Disorder to Ear and Tail Biting Syndrome connection is pretty weak there is some real evidence that vitamin supplementation can help people with mental health issues. The question then becomes, does Synergy Group’s Empower formula really offer you something unique that you can not get elsewhere? The answer is, probably not.

Although their marketing strategy tried to convince you otherwise, we know that there are other, cheaper sources of multivitamin formulas which have gone through chelation processing and have a higher bioavailability of nutrients than ionic or colloidal formulas.

Don’t let the chelation, bioavailability lingo distract you from the facts. No matter how much bioavailable nutrients you consume, there is a limit to how much your body can take before you are overdosing for no real therapeutic reason and you are facing diminishing returns.

So, if Empower is a cure, how long does it take before you are cured? That was one of my first questions. A week? A month? A year? How much of this stuff do you take and for how long until your bipolar or schizophrenia is gone for good?

When I asked one of the youtubers that was pimping Truehope on my videos that question, this was his answer.

“Well you take them… just like you eat food, just like you breath, just like you meditate, I thought I already said that, I did. I thought that was a good enough answer.”

Wow. Just…wow. I coaxed this answer out of him after several attempts at asking the question again and again which he continuously evaded as he tried to derail and deflect the conversation in different directions using the time honored distraction of asking me unrelated questions rather than give an honest, simple answer to my question.

Perhaps these random youtube people are just not ideal presenters for this product. Let’s check out the professional customer service representatives with their precise and very carefully worded little scripts and see if they have the answers I was interested in.

I found these tracks and quoted the important stuff.

To be fair, if you listen to the calls you will note that I quoted out of context. I picked the really ‘telling’ statements and put them together because that is how my brain interpreted what I was hearing. The actual statements can be listened to on these tracks or you can backhack the link and get the transcripts from the site itself.

How does EMpower work and how much do you take for how long?

Customer support call for bipolar disorder

“Generally what will happen after you start the EMpower it gets into your body and starts repairing that chemical imbalance a little bit at a time. Generally everyone starts off at 18 (capsules) a day.  That is what we have found through our research that your body needs. Once you have gone three months without symptoms that is when we would begin to find a maintenance dose for you. Generally we see people maintaining at 9-12 per day.” ( About half or slightly less than half of the ‘loading’ dose apparently)

It’s creepy similar to what the psych nurses and my psychiatrist told me in the hospital. I was to start off at the highest doses possible of trilafon and lithium to get me ‘adjusted’ as fast as possible. Reducing dosing would be considered way down the line after I had some number of months on max doses.

The psych nurse who added lithium to the mix a few weeks after the antipsychotic explained the need for it like this, “You are bipolar. You have a chemical imbalance which causes you to be unable to control your moods from one pole to the other. Lithium will stabilize that chemical imbalance.”

My response was probably a slurred and tired,

“Uh, ok, sure whatever.”

I was told I would never be able to live without medications or I would become ill again. As a teen who was doped out on a neurolpetic I did not have the faculties or critical thinking ability needed to turn back to this psych nurse and say something like,

“Wait, what?”

or

“I beg pardon?”

I did not know what questions to ask.

What happens if you come off EMpower?

Customer support call for depression.

“EMpower corrects the chemical imbalance in the brain by supporting it with vitamins and minerals. If you were ever to come off EMpower your body would no longer have that support. Your original symptoms would return. So, it’s unfortunately, an incurable illness.”

Wait a second. This is also the same story that psychiatrists tell you about your illness and meds. Let’s bring this whole thing to a halt here and start asking some questions.

When the psych nurse told me lithium would stabilize my chemical imbalance, what chemical imbalance are we talking about here? There is no concrete proof that any particular ‘chemical imbalance’ is to blame for bipolar. Was I suffering from a lithium deficiency?

Perhaps she was referring to the thoroughly debunked serotonin and other neurotransmitter ‘deficiency’ theories. Most of the really crappy research done on the serotonin deficiency theories were related to depression. Even if these studies did pan out the ‘serotonin deficiency theory’ it certainly does not explain the ‘manic’ aspect of bipolar.

What about the customer reps at Truehope calling centers? Their statements would seem to imply that Syngery Group has a better understanding of these chemical imbalances than Harvard researchers. Right?

Are these Truehope folks even talking about the same chemical imbalances that your psychiatrist told you about? Although they use the term glibly enough the Truehope folks’s definition of a chemical imbalance is a bit different from the definitions of biopsychiatry researchers and pharma companies.

The folks over at Truehope use the ‘Nutrient Theory of mental illness’ That means when these reps are talking about EMpower ‘going in and repairing those imbalances’ they are coming from a point of view that all these mental illness, bipolar, depression, ADHD, anxiety are all caused by vitamin and mineral deficiencies.

Some of you may be familiar with Linus Pauling, two time Nobel prize winner and father of orthomolecular medicine. He did some experiments in which people with various mental health issues were given megadoses of vitamins and noticed improved functioning in some of them.

The ‘science’ underpinning Truehope can be boiled down to these summations of the information they are presenting on that website:

  • A. Mental illness is considered to be a chemical imbalance. Since vitamins and minerals are necessary for proper production of neurotransmitters a deficiency in vitamins and minerals may be the cause of your chemical imbalance.
  • B. Some scientists theorize that some people have a genetic need for more vitamins and minerals than others. Some scientists have show that some genetic mutations require more vitamins and minerals. We at Truehope have connected all the dots here. People with bipolar, schizophrenia, anxiety disorders, OCD, clinical depression and ADHD are genetic mutants with active deficiencies of vitamins and minerals the specifics and exact amount of which we have figured out and presented as EMpower to fix those deficiencies.
  • C. The deficiencies of these genetic mutants are causing their brain cells to shrink and die. That has to have some kind of effect.
  • D. One of our company founders thinks that maybe it’s all about being deficient in a few vitamins and minerals and this causes systemic wide chain reactions which lead to even greater deficiencies or inability to properly uptake some nutrients. Our formula fixes all that stuff no problem because we know exactly what it takes to remedy that.

Oh. Really? Let’s look at an example and see what that means.

Amount of Niacin per formula

Empower: 24 mg
Centrum: 20 mg
GNC: 35 mg
Flintstone’s: 15 mg
Walgreen’s Prenatal: 20 mg

Let me get this straight. I am supposed to believe that Mr. Hardy and Mr. Stephen have figured out that people with anxiety disorders, bipolar disorder, schizophrenia, OCD and Tourette’s require 24 mg of Niacin? How did they figure that out?

It seems to me that the Centrum and Prenatal formulas are getting awfully close to the levels needed to treat those with genetic deficiencies of niacin. The GNC formula exceeds the amount of niacin needed to successfully treat these bipolars and depressives and their genetic deficiencies.

When we look at other ingredients we find similar levels.

Amount of Folic Acid (vitamin B9) per formula

Empower: 384 mcg
Centrum:  400 mcg
GNC: 400 mcg
Flintstone’s: 400 mcg
Walgreen’s Prenatal: 800 mcg

These guys at Truehope have got it all figured out. For regular folks who are just looking to supplement an active lifestyle 400 mcg of B9 are sufficient. If you have bipolar disorder you really only need 384 mcg of B9.

Remember, the folks at Truehope have balanced their formula specifically to address the chemical imbalances found in those people with genetic mutations which lead them to get mental health labels like ADHD and schizophrenia due to their deficiencies.

The dosing is not a one-to-one correspondence. The amounts listed consist of a single ‘serving’ of EMpower. One serving being four capsules. Their maintenance dosing guidelines would have you taking twice that amount to keep your symptoms at bay. This is after a prolonged period where you actually take four times that amount.

Typically your average multivitamin is taken once or twice a day. “One with every meal” are the instructions on the labels of some of them. If you take two GNC or Centrums daily this is more or less half of EMpower’s ‘maintenance dose’ for a good many of the very same vitamins and minerals.

I am really impressed that these two guys, Mr. Hardy and Mr. Stephen were able on their own to figure out the nutritional requirements imposed on those people with the genetic deficiencies which lead to chemical imbalances which are later diagnosed as ADHD, OCD, manic depression and so on.

What about the makers of GNC and Centrum and Flintstones vitamins? Don’t they realize that by simply doubling the daily supplementation regimen they would probably start getting people calling in to report their schizophrenia is clearing up?

Defenders of EMpower would say no. They would argue that that the chelated bioavailability of EMPower means it is superior to anything GNC or Centrum could do. What is stopping GNC and Centrum from getting into the curing of bipolar disorder business by simply chelating their formulas?

Defenders of EMpower might propose that even with chelation GNC or Centrum formulas still can’t do what EMPower does. Their defense will come down to this. “It’s the Colonel’s Secret Recipe that makes EMpower so good!”

Can we create a knock off of EMpower on our own? We could find a supplement with more or less the same ingredient list as EMpower that chelates their formula. Then we just start picking the other supplements off the shelves.

Purchase some ginkgo, phenylalanine, glutamine, inositol and combine that with a double dose of Centrum Complete and you would be getting very, very close to the formula that EMpower has.

Close enough that if you had bipolar or schizophrenia and you created this formula yourself and experimented on yourself at the dosing levels described by the Truehope customer reps then if you are one of these people with a genetic deficiency than there is a very good chance that you may get some noticeable improvements.

I don’t think that Mr Hardy and Mr Stephen have figured out that kids with ADHD or Tourettes or teens with depression or adults with schizophrenia are all equally handled by ingesting mega doses of certain nutrients.

I don’t believe it frankly. I don’t believe they have the scientific papers, the statistics, the hard data that would indicate that taking 96 mg of niacin daily is what it takes to put schizophrenia in remission. Not 196 mg or 3 mg daily. No. 96 mg.

They would have us believe they have figured out the exact amounts, not only of niacin or folic acid but also the other 38 vitamins and minerals and supporting amino acids.  I don’t believe it. You, as a customer and consumer should at least hesitate to believe it.

It would be really nice if they could post their research findings in the interests of transparency and for the good of medicine. I want to know more about their research protocols other than randomly testing some formulas out on their friends and children. I want to see research data.

They are definitely not forthcoming with how they figured out the precise formulas for the nutritional needs of bipolars. What about kids with Tourettes? Come on. It stinks of bullshit that they are really sitting on information we would hope, gleaned from hard won trial and error and proper double blind studies. We are asked to take it on faith and to accept the very convenient family stories told by Mr Hardy and Mr Stephen.

I figured that if this was a real cure then you would be done with their supplement once your symptoms were gone for a good long while. No way. That would not make any money. It is very telling that these folks use the same language, the exact same language that pharmaceutical companies do when they market psychiatric meds.

“Prozac is one medicine in a class of antidepressants called selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors, or SSRIs, that work to fix these chemical imbalances.”

“Abilify, for the mainenance treatment of Bipolar Disorder and Schizophrenia”

The folks over at Truehope are telling you that your genetic mutation that makes you perpetually deficient in vitamins and minerals is an incurable illness. Discontinue EMpower and it’s back to relapseville for you.

Is that really a cure then? It’s a treatment in the same vein as psychiatric drugs. A treatment you are never suppose to stop. It’s a healthier alternative to psychiatric meds, that much is sure.

The Truehope marketing department is top notch. They have co-opted the big pharma jargon like ‘chemical imbalance’ and ‘maintenance dose’. They have co-opted the nutritional supplement buzz words like ‘chelated’, ‘bioavailable’ and ‘deficiency’.

Then they take an average multivitamin supplement. They pack it with a variety of aminos and other compounds that are all the rage in nutrition and health food circles. Supplements that you would normally buy separately. Then they have the formula chelated and voila, they have a very complete, high quality nutritional supplement.

As a supplement, it seems so complete that even I could be tempted by it. Setting aside the misgivings about how consistent this formula is prepared industrially, taking one or two EMpower capsules a day I would be theoretically getting the same things as the combination I get from several different supplements and formulas. Taken at face value, as a health supplement it’s solid.

One thing that bugs me about Truehope is the cheesy ‘feel good ‘ names they call themselves and their stuff. Another thing that bothers me is their one-size-fits-all approach. It’s their claims to being able to fix such an incredibly wide array of mental problems with one supplement. They don’t seem to offer much advice if the stuff does not work. Much like Big Pharma they tell you to keep taking it anyway claiming that the balancing can take months and to bear with it.

It’s terribly disingenuous of them to use the same language as Big Pharma but you know what? Their marketing people know it works. People sees these ads for Celexa, Abilify, Cymbalta or Seroquel and they are readily convinced they have some unspecific chemical imbalance issue which these drugs are going to ‘maintain’ for them. The bs meters of the people buying these drugs did not go off after seeing a TV advertisement for psychiatric meds and they are not going off for Truehope either.

To sell nutritional supplements or psychiatric medications you have to tell potential customers why they need those products. You use scare language and convince them they are missing something they need that you have. People get enchanted by buzz words and jargon. People eat them up, pun intended.

Listen to those phone calls and don’t tell me you are not both amused and appalled at what these reps are saying and the Big Picture that is revealed when they talk about the dosing.  They are not selling just hype hope. They are selling fear too. If you uncritically accept what these reps tell you then you may very well be successfully convinced that you have a genetic mutation that means you are subject to perpetual vitamin and mineral deficiency. What you need to do as a critically thinking consumer is to find out if it is really true that you are have this deficiency.

When you think you have True Hope in the palm of your hand you are setting yourself up for the expectation effect, selective thinking, confirmation bias and the placebo effect. If you went to your GP and got some blood work done and the results came in and you did not have any deficiencies and yet you still suffered from depression, bipolar, schizophrenia or whatever, then what? You are back to square one.

If you got that blood work done before you bought EMpower than you know now, instead of guessing whether or not you really have a deficiency genetic or otherwise. I know what you are thinking. That would take all the magic out of it.

Personal anecdote about the power of real hope.

When I was fifteen I lived in a very scary place. I was placed in a lockdown facility, a special school for teens with major emotional and behavioral issues. I had been Dxd with Bipolar 1 and Schizoaffective months earlier. Secretly, I had just stopped taking my meds.

Without the drugs my mental abilities and perceptions came back online. I found the Patient’s Bill of Rights and I learned that I was now of the age of consent to refuse meds legally. I also found out they could not keep me locked up there anymore if I was not being ‘treated’ anymore. It’s called Habeas Corpus.

When I read that I knew there was possibility that I could get out of there. I was living in the company of disturbed sometimes violent teenagers amidst neurotic and occasionally abusive staff. I was in lockdown with very few rights or privileges. It was the middle of winter. My family had more or less given up on me. I had been abandoned, again, this time to psychiatric gulag.

When I read the Bill of Rights and learned about Habeas Corpus for the first time in a long time I had true hope. That hope was like divine light from inside. It swept aside my depression and anger. I was cheerful. Magnanimous. Happy. Content even. My mood totally reversed itself and I felt unstoppable. I knew real victory for me against my keepers was at hand. In fact I did win, in court a few months later and I got out of there.

The point is, real true hope can totally change your mental and emotional states around. Totally and completely and so fast it’s like magic. It can shatter months long depression and make you smile.

In my opinion Synergy Group’s decision to call themselves Truehope was pure marketing genius. If you are desperate and suddenly you have hope you may have a spontaneous remission of your suffering based entirely off the feeling of purpose and confidence you now possess.

For some maybe it’s almost subliminal but to me it’s a form of suggestion, to call their product ‘EMpower’ and their shtick ‘Truehope’. What is stopping GNC or Centrum from tweaking their formula and coming up with a competing  cure for that genetic mutation? Wouldn’t they make even more money? Would they call it TRanquil? or INspire? NUbalance? HealingZ?

A lot of folks have experimented on themselves like I did and found some emotional or thought related improvements from supplementation. I had enjoyed some great benefits from mere generic multivitamins when I was not taking care of myself all that well.

When I started taking care of myself and eating and living better the effects of supplements became much less. Unless you really do in fact have a proven and documented medical condition that prevents the natural uptake of vitamins and minerals then your body will naturally uptake and absorb what it needs from a well balanced diet.

There is no need to ‘buy’ into the ‘nutrient deficiency theory’ and just assume you happen to have a genetic defect. That’s what Truehope expects you will do. They expect you to connect the dots and conclude that your mental health issues are the result of a genetic mutation and that their product makes perfect sense to take to treat it.

In that they are just like Big Pharma who does not expect you will go on the internet and dig up research and studies which would show just how weak and unproven their chemical imbalance claims are. You are a customer. You are residual income to them and it makes good financial sense to get everyone into ‘maintaining’ themselves with whatever pills or supplements are the latest rage.

Find out first, if you really have a genetic mutation that means you require four to twenty times the USDA recommended levels of vitamins and minerals. Just ask your GP for a blood lab. You will know in a few days or weeks. The Truehope reps won’t tell you to do that.

Anything in life that is really worth having may be hard to attain. Lasting and stable mental health is one of those things that is worth having. If you have been seriously mentally ill for a long time it’s probably not going to be easy to attain.

I have been depression free for well over a decade. I have not had clinical or disabling anger, anxiety or manic issues in well over a decade. I cured myself of bipolar disorder, schizoaffective and ptsd.  Supplementation was about 2-5 %  of my overall personal mental health pyramid. It had an effect, but it did not cure me of anything.

What cured me was meditation. Real meditation done properly over a long enough period of time changes your brain. The changes are so thorough and complete that I do not need to meditate every single day for hours on end like I did during my 20s when I was actively trying to attain emotional stability and mental quiet.

I have gone through long stretches where I did not take my supplements.  In the wake of 9-11 the company I worked for eventually shut down permanently. There was long period of time where I could not afford to supplement like I had been. I did not relapse because I stopped taking multivitamins.

I can go without meditation or supplements for long periods and not relapse because I was really and truly cured. I was changed. My brain changed. In psychiatric lingo my ‘chemicals’ became balanced again. When you are no longer dependent on pig pills or psych meds to remain stable you have a real cure. Otherwise, aren’t you just in treatment?

I tell people that if they think they really are cured or recovered then they should find out if it’s really true. That means taking personal responsibility for your mental states and going through a period of time where you discontinue psych meds or supplements to find out for sure if you really are recovered underneath.

No psych med or herbal remedy or multivitamin or amino acid can heal your spirit. If you are spiritually lost and adrift no supplement is going to fix you. If you hate and loathe yourself no pill or capsule is going to fix that.

There is no supplement that can give you real self love and self respect. Those are two ingredients that I find are ‘deficient’ in a lot of people who suffer from mental illness and have labels like bipolar or borderline.

Self-love, self-respect and inner peace are a kind of magic too. If you love yourself truly you won’t self injure or want to terminate your own life. If you love life then you won’t suffer like those folks who think life is against them and they hate the world. If you have inner peace you have a shield against thought disorders, mania, compulsions and obsessive thinking.

You can achieve lasting mental health recovery by tending to the needs of your spirit and by embracing a lifestyle of simplicity, moderation and spirituality. You can help yourself by learning to relax, manage stress and let go of things you can’t control.

Some issues just go away with time. Maturity heals some kinds of problems. Getting older, growing up and the process of aging can find that you have picked up all sorts of cerebral ways to cope with impulses. Learning about your sensitivities and limits can allow you to avoid maxing out your stress levels. You learn to take it easy and to take care of yourself better and your bad days of major symptoms come less and less often as a result.

If you have a real genetic condition that prevents you from uptaking bioavailable minerals and vitamins you can get blood work to establish that fact and working with your doctor you can come up with a supplementation regimen that fits *you* and your needs and not just some one-size-fits-all capsule that is apparently good enough for everyone and anyone who has issues.

Some EMpower defenders may find this post and say to me,

“EMpower has helped me so get off your crusade bitch you don’t know what you are talking about. This stuff saves lives. Who are you to talk smack about my beloved EMpower? Oh and Linus Pauling is God and you don’t have a Phd so stfu.”

I actually have had these kinds of comments before from people who took great personal offense that I dared call it Pig Pills or Truehype.  You know what folks? I got the same kinds of aggressive comments, not to mention verbal abuse or ad homs, from people defending psychiatric meds when I ripped into them too.

There is something a little sketchy about the folks coming out with autobiographies on how Truehope saved their life. They are not just sharing their experiences and moving on. If you go to their sites they are selling Truehope products usually in what I assume can only be a mutual interests back scratching and profiteering franchise of some kind. They are getting paid to pimp Truehope.

I am not anti-recovery and I don’t have an anti-Truehope agenda. But I think Truehope has got sleaze all over it though. From the weasel-word salad that is their FAQ’s and research pages to their sweepingly huge claims in terms of how many mental issues they claim they cure. In the past miracle cures claiming to be effective in curing ‘everything’ have always panned out to be false, misleading or untrue. Always.

If you have been saved by EMpower, good for you. I hope it lasts. I hope you are not deceiving yourself and unnecessarily assuming you have a genetic mutation that requires you to take much greater amounts of vitamins and minerals than other people. If you really do have such a deficiency by all means keep on taking your capsules.

If you won’t get tested to see if that is really the case I hope you will one day have the self honesty and courage to find out if you are really cured of anything by trying a discontinuation period to see if you have really changed.

There will be those that defend EMPower and their final rebuttal will invariably be.

“If it helps people is that wrong? What do you have against that? If it works, what’s your problem? How can it be bad if people are benefiting from it? Who cares what it’s made of or how it’s made? Who cares who made it and why? If it works who are you to judge?”

I don’t have a problem with that at all. Some of us just like to look under the proverbial hood and see what’s underneath. We wonder how the tricks are done and try to figure them out out of curiosity and a need to know how things work.

Look in the mirror one of these days and look at yourself in the eye and ask yourself if you are not riding hype, expectancy and the placebo effect. If you don’t want to find out or you don’t care how the magic works as long it works then fine.

This has been a really long post. In closing, I have not personally tried EMpower so take my opinions with that in mind. I am not encouraging or discouraging anyone from trying EMpower. As I said earlier, from what I can tell, as supplements go it is a very complete one. If it was called TaiChiDragonFuel or something like that I would probably take it myself as my one-a-day multi.

I posted this originally on my old blog and it got two comments. (Shortly after, I ended my old blog to finish up my book-writing.)

notyouraveragegirl said:Thank you Jane. One of my friends has been trying to get me to take this crap and I feel the exact same way about it. If you want to be whole that badly, you’ll convince yourself anything works.

Margot, feel free to come by and repost again.

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About Jane

Ms. Alexander. author, activist, artist
This entry was posted in mental health, mental illness, mind and body and tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

17 Responses to Truehope or Truehype? An analysis of EMpower

  1. leesis says:

    great post!

    There is no doubt that when one has any physical or mental disorder nutrition should be examined. Equally true though is the fact that EMpower uses this to flog a product with no substantiated research. Though as someone who worked in psychiatry for many a year Empower hasn’t done anything unusual here! And it certainly is useful to take extra vitamins if you are on psychotropic medications…but the cheap ones are just as good.

  2. … nutrition … nutrition

    That`s a fact and is slightly more complicated. The people whom I met in my life, who were actually crazy, not just simulating in an environment, had other problems too.

    They had a stressful job. It`s like it was stressful, because they hated it.

    They had extremely rare social contact.

    They slept to much, ate the wrong stuff, did not move.

    I hate to exercise, but I feel much better after it.

    These people got crazy after several hard years of this, their bodies were completely depleted, they hearts were longing for understanding and the little mean kid, who never grew up inside of them made up these twisted characters, so they could deal with reality.

    In my town is, I mean was, this ex-business owner. He made up this character for himself, he called the “Devil King”. He had this fur cap he wore as the crown and was walking on the streets telling stories to himself and others, he made up. Some of them were obscene, some of them were funny. He was harmless. He had two favourite places, an intersection, where he stood at statue and guided the traffic like the orchestra. The other one was at the train station, where he waited for train nr.64, which would bring him his magic cape, so he could fly and leave this place. He froze to death in one winter.

    He got his medication, but nothing. And I wonder, did he even wanted to become normal again. I never got the full story on his life, because people are telling b.s. about him, like a local urban myth, you forget the next morning.

    It`s like he had an overgrown social mask.

    • Jane says:

      Very interesting story–thanks for sharing it.

      “It`s like he had an overgrown social mask.”

      “The people whom I met in my life, who were actually crazy, not just simulating in an environment, had other problems too.”

      I think there may just be something to that.
      That is pretty insightful, genf.
      Thanks for commenting! :)

  3. Vanvita says:

    Jane,

    This article is very very lame Jane.
    You have not investigated the facts and your comparison of ingredients is very incomplete and misleading.

    I suggest you start some serious reading in this area, beginning with the many scholarly articles on the effects of micronutrients on neurophysiology.

    One final comment. Tony Stephan and David Hardy from true hope did not “figure out the precise requirements” for anything. They simply created a micronutrient formulation of 36 ingredients that was delivered in a sufficiently large volume to have an effect. You sound like you pride yourself on being an expert on the suffering involved in mental health issues. If that is the case I suggest you also begin priding yourself on being objective and sensitive by first talking to people who have experienced long term benefits from large,continuos use of a broad based micronutrient formulation. If you actually took time to step out of the hubris of your little ivory tower you might,heaven forbid,learn something first hand.

    • Jane says:

      Hi Vanvita,

      I am so glad you took you the time to share your thoughts. It would have been nice if you had provided some links that might sustain scrutiny to any studies which might have backed up what you just claimed. Thanks for stopping by!

  4. Emma says:

    Great post, you managed to put in to words the unease I feel about the whole cult of Empower+.
    I recently saw a show about studies been done with MRI’s that include a participant who is a monk and they were amazed at the way he could “switch on” certain areas of his brain whilst meditating- really thought provoking stuff. And at least these researchers are acknowledging that mindfulness and meditation can be an effective management tool for certain types of mental illness.
    Personally I have attempted to meditate over the years but I think I am just too sceptical for my own good (I don’t believe in a higher power or spirit and I don’t think you can force faith) however I do find repetitive physical exercise to be a very grounding activity.
    I am also very sceptical about the level of people being diagnosed with mental illnesses, especially in the States- the fact that they are diagnosing and medicating little kids with bipolar is absolutely reprehensible imo. Especially when these kids are frequently hopped up on high sugar, high artificial flavouring/colouring diets.
    On the other hand I do believe that mental illness is a legitimate condition considering I have lived with BPD and unipolar/MDD for well over 20 years (I have had behavioural issues since I was a little kid and I’m now 39).
    Luckily I am being assessed for participation in a research programme that includes brain mapping, gene testing and the use of brain stimulation (such as transcranial magnetic stimulation) that may help alleviate the symptoms of unipolar/MDD without reliance on drugs.
    Of course, none of these treatments work without effort to change the thought patterns associated with these disorders- whether it be through CBT, mediation or other forms of mindfulness.
    I suppose my belief is that there is no one “cure” that will work for everyone. Whilst meditation has obviously helped numerous people, such as yourself, it is not really an option for someone like me at this time as I have a young child who needs me to be functional now- not in six months or a year from now. I need to look at rapid symptom relief so I can participate in (drug free) longer term therapy such as cognitive behavioural therapy, which often includes using meditation as an additional tool to help minimise destructive mood swings.
    My goal is to be symptom free enough to be able to invest in long term, drug free alternatives, and if that requires being medicated to get through the worst of it then so be it, but my aim is to be healthy, happy and medication free.
    I guess I just wanted to share my perspective, that we all have our own ways of achieving long term mental health and that there is no “one size fits all” remedy. However, that does not mean that I believe your approach is less workable than anyone else’s, just that some peoples circumstances mean that it just isn’t workable for them at this point in time.
    I hope you do not think I am being disparaging of your experiences, as that is not my intention at all. Like I said, there has been research that shows meditation can have remarkable effects on brain function. I think it is wonderful that you have had the ability to apply this to your own life and have seen such positive results.
    Your blog is really inspiring and it’s great to be able to read about your experiences. It’s also refreshing to see that someone who uses an “alternative” method to alleviate their symptoms isn’t blindly accepting of any and all non conventional approaches such as Truehope (and isn’t that name telling? It’s so manipulative of peoples desire to find hope). I have met far to many people who are so against “big pharma” that they will gladly spend thousands on alternative treatments without ever acknowledging that natural therapies is a billion dollar industry too, just as keen on taking your money but without being held to any of the standards of traditional medicine.
    Anyway, sorry for the long ramble haha
    Take care,
    Em

    • Jane says:

      I very much enjoyed reading your post. Sorry for the delay in replying. I certainly hope things get better for you. I appreciate the circumstances you are in and I hope you realize that I do not consider my approach to be a one-size-fits-all cure. My situation was, as yours currently is, unique.

      With respect to the meditating monk, it seems monks and nuns get all the press because of their lifestyle. But in all humility, I am 100% certain that I could selectively target and activate areas of my brain at will under MRI or PET scans. The training I went through that changed my brain and healed me of my suffering gave me that control and I would happily demonstrate it under scientific testing protocols, if I ever got a chance.

      Some other notes about meditation. I am skeptical and critical of meditation as well as other forms of alternative health. Unfortunately, not all meditation techniques are the same and there are plenty of false leads in meditation that you could practice them, and it would be no wonder if a person never was able to change the landscape of their brain. I had to do a lot of experimental research into meditation traditions and specific practices until I found the one that ‘cured’ me. I also wasted a lot of time practicing things that did not translate into greater peace of mind and emotional stability.

      As an aside, meditation does not require belief in any gods or goddesses, or even spirit for that matter. I try to talk about meditation as though it were a skill-set that you can learn and use to reprogram the wetware in your head. There is plenty of time for discoveries of a spiritual nature, but you can enter meditation with a secular and skeptical mindset and obtain wonderful results. Meditation does not ‘do’ anything to you. You do something with meditation that creates changes, both short term or long term, or, you are not ‘doing’ meditation, in my personal experience.

      Thanks again for visiting Em, and I wish you all the best.

  5. tinamay says:

    I appreciated reading your post on this subject from your point of view and how it was thought out and covered a wide range of topics on EMPower.

    I would like to comment on my experience with True Hope. I have bipolar disorder and not a mild case. My mom pushed me to try EMPower and only did to prove her that it wouldn’t work. Under my Phyc Dr’s supervision I slowly went off my RX Drugs and on the program and was surprised how well it has worked for me.

    I know that everyone is different and would never suggest some one go off meds without Dr’s supervision but cannot deny the fact that I have never felt so stable and happy since I have been on this program.

    Also I feel as if I have a good team with my family, Dr’s and the EMPower team constantly working together and checking in on my mental health.

    • Jane says:

      Hello Tinamay,

      May I say that I am pleased to hear that EMpower has worked so well for you. One of the things I like about Truehope is that, unlike Rxs, their product is nontoxic. It also sounds like you have a fairly involved support system. That is something a lot of folks who suffer mental illness do not have. At any rate, I hope that you remain stable.

      Take care and thanks for visiting.

      • May says:

        Thank you for your reply. I am fortunate to have the support I have and know many people don’t have the same kind of support. There is support out there for everyone if they only knew and are able to access it with limit energy each of us have during troubled times.

        I know this may sound like a promotion for truehope, there is a support team in place when taking EMPower. People also should know of government advocates that will support recovery. Recovery is about the support and this is why I’m angry at the government system for not making services easier to access while undergoing mental turmoil. There is support for anyone who needs help. It may be difficult at times to find them but there is help and support.

  6. Robert says:

    Jane,

    Are you the “SF Jane” who used to have lots of interesting videos on YouTube? And if
    so, may I ask where they all went ?

    BTW, thank you for a most thoughtful post on what I would characterize as “expensive vitamins”. You are a rare combination of spirituality and no nonsense scientific thinking. –Robert

    • Jane says:

      Hello Robert! Yes, I am ‘SFJane’. I took my vids down for a number of reasons. Mostly because they were a distraction while I was trying to finish my book. Other reasons include the fact that I know I can make better vids now. I started to dislike my old vids just because I knew I could speak better about the issues. The only video I have up now is a trailer for my book. But there will be more vids up once I get some time and a new video cam. :)

      Re: the post. You are most welcome! And thank you for your kind words and for stopping by. Take care for now.

  7. hi_there says:

    Jane,
    This product worked for my sister for anxiety. she told me about it and im the most bull headed sceptic on the planet, but eventually i tried it. it really really works, it works so well its scary! let me make a suggestion, try it jane, what can you lose? really try it and then write an article because its hard to take this article seriously when you are reviewing a product you never tried. But the thing that worries me most is that there are thousands of good intelligent people whos lives where changed by this product, and uninformed people write articles slamming it. if the product ever went away, thousands of people would lose a quality to their lives. please, just be more responsible when you write about things you dont know, especially a product that has proven to help so many good people live much better lives…

    • Jane says:

      Hello, hi_there,

      Let me say first, that I am glad for both you and your sister. I am all for effective treatments that really work. If this product worked for you, great!

      As for trying it myself, why on earth would I want to? I haven’t been depressed or suffered from severe anxiety in fifteen years. I certainly do not have any known genetic defects that prevent me from uptaking nutrients properly. I eat fairly well. There is no reason for me to take this supplement.

      You know, you have said to me, the same thing that people who are promeds say to me when I rip into psych meds. I’ve tried psych meds before, and I am entitled to an opinion about them, including ones that I have not tried personally, but have made a good-faith effort to learn about.

      In the case of Truehope, I am a veteran when it comes to experimenting on myself with vitamins and minerals and nutrient complexes. I am entitled to an opinion about them, even those I have not personally tried, but have attempted to learn all about.

      I am totally fine with people reading my skeptical and critical views about psych meds and supplements if it helps make an informed decision, even if that decisions is to abstain from trying something that I am criticizing.

      One of my first videos I ever made on youtube was about lithium, which is used to treat manic depression. My video was all about my complaints about how horrible lithium was to me. One of my first commenters was a woman who told me she had been helped by lithium and she wanted me to take my video down because it might ’cause’ someone to not take lithium.

      She told me that if lithium ever went away, tons of people would lose quality and stability in their lives. That would not be my fault. I don’t take responsibility for other people’s informed decisions.

      Frankly, I am of the opinion that if people took up meditation and practiced it properly and for a long enough period, they would be able to ditch both their lithium and their Truehope for something that would actually change how their minds work and even alter the function of the brain permanently.

      Thanks for visiting, and take care.

  8. Becky says:

    Hi Jane,

    Thanks for you very informative article about True Hope. I called and talked with a counselor one day for two hours. I was looking for a vitamin/mineral supplement product to help with depression and weight gain every time I stop smoking in hopes of getting help to stop smoking without the depression, thus helping with the weight gain from overeating. She advised that I should probably try another vitamin supplement that would be cheaper as I’m not mentally ill and wouldn’t need to spend so much. I also have a sister who is paranoid schizophrenic and started with manic depression in her 30s. She is 53 now and lives either in jail, in an institution temporarily or on the streets. She terrorizes family and the public when she is not locked up. I wish I could help her. I miss my sister and don’t know how to help her. She will not take medications and was on them for five years back in the 90s, went to college and got a degree but was very depressed and guilt-ridden over the things she had done while not on medication. She stopped taking the meds in 2004 and hasn’t gone back and just gets more and more out of control. I was hoping True Hope could help her, but now am wondering if it is even worth the money to try. I wish I knew what to do. Thanks again for your info, it does help with journey to find help for my sister.

    • Jane says:

      Hi Becky. I am very sorry to hear of your sister’s troubles. I wish I had an easy solution (or any solution) for you (and her) but I don’t. I think a person really needs to be in a position where they actively want to be helped, to get good help of any kind.

      The world of supplements and nutrition is complex and often conflicting. I tried to give a good evaluation of the pros and cons of Truehope. I am fairly certain you could get similar results from other, less expensive multivitamins, if you (or her) had an actual mineral or nutrient deficiency (unknowable for certain without a lab test). Best wishes to you both on your respective journeys, and thanks for visiting.

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