Posted by dj on October 6, 2000, at 13:09:27
In reply to CTV report about breakthrough in bipolar treatment, posted by Tori on October 6, 2000, at 12:45:47
> Anybody else see this?
< delteted >
> .... the patients interviewed had a remarkable response rate - but they
> didn't say what pills they were!! d'oh
I imagine the following is what you are referring to... Pretty small sample size and sounds pretty hypey(as does their web-site).... as I'm sure CamW. and others will attest...though it would be great if it was this simple...
October 5, 2000
Pill that calms pigs may help humans
E.M.Power being tested: One desperate father gave it to his manic depressive children with great success
A drug used to calm pigs is being tested on humans after a distressed father in Alberta used it on his two children, fearing that their depression would lead them to commit suicide like their mother.
Five years ago, Anthony Stephan, whose wife had recently committed suicide, told his friend, David Hardy, about his fears for his son and daughter -- both of whom had been diagnosed with manic depression.
Mr. Hardy, who sold livestock products, told Mr. Stephan it sounded as though the children suffered from a nervous disorder exhibited by some barnyard hogs, called ear-and-tail biting syndrome.
"I was just in a state of despair," said Mr. Stephan, who was desperate to help his children, then 15 and 24.
"I'd lost my wife, I was losing my kids. My whole family was just disintegrating right before my eyes."
The friend explained to him that pigs "become hyper-irritable, hyperactive, and they'll actually kill one another, or tear off an ear or a tail, if it doesn't stop."
Pork farmers cure the disorder with a nutritional pill.
Mr. Stephan fed his children the hog pills and, amazingly, they worked where pharmaceutical drugs had failed miserably.
The improvement in Mr. Stephan's children was so remarkable, a psychiatrist encouraged him to help others.
After treating 100 volunteer patients, Mr. Stephan approached scientists at the University of Calgary, who began testing the pill -- now known as E.M.Power -- in 10 male patients with bipolar disorder, commonly known as manic depression.
At six months, the patients had improved dramatically.
"I was skeptical at the outset of this study," said Dr. Bonnie Kaplan, the principal investigator who presented her findings last night at the Canadian Psychiatric Association's annual meeting in Victoria.
"However, the results are quite striking."
In most cases, the supplement has entirely replaced psychoactive drugs and the patients have remained well, Dr. Kaplan said.
"I had been unable to find any medication or combination of medications that would [allow] me to function at the level that I was at before," said Steve Morton, 32, of Calgary. He was diagnosed with bipolar disorder in 1997. "And when I started taking the [E.M.Power], it was like a light switch going on."
After years of suffering, Mr. Morton, who works for a kitchen supply company, was prepared to try anything, even hog pills.
"I had been on so many other medications ... that I said, 'What have I got to lose?' " he said.
"If I feel like running around and flopping in a big mud patch once in a while, I suppose that's one of the things I have to put up with."
Bipolar disorder affects as many as 500,000 Canadians. It has a strong genetic component, which may explain why Mr. Stephan's wife and children suffered the illness.
Psychoactive drugs, particularly lithium, can help lessen the radical mood swings, but the drugs can cause a litany of side effects, including tremors, diarrhea, headaches, seizures and abnormal heart rhythms.
Since the nutritional pill has few side effects, researchers are excited by its possibilities.
Mr. Stephan and Mr. Hardy, have since formed a company, Synergy Group of Canada Inc., to research and market the pills, which contain 36 ingredients: 34 natural vitamins and minerals and two anti-oxidants.
Several large U.S. firms have supplied research products, and earlier this year, the Alberta Science and Research Authority put up more than $500,000 to fund a larger, more rigorous clinical trial.
"We hope eventually that we can make some royalties off of this so that we can build what we call Synergy Houses" to provide free housing and nutrition for schizophrenics, Mr. Stephan said. However, he said the company also gives its recipe away for free: "We want to help as many people as we can."
Despite the positive early results, the University of Calgary researchers urge caution about the drug, as they do not yet have long-term data.