July 07, 2004

Canadian Gov Sues TrueHope for False Claims

Truehope Nutritional Support Ltd, the developers and distributors of nutritional supplement EmpowerPlus, is facing charges under the Food and Drug Act for marketing their product without Canadian goverment approval.

The Alberta-based company claims that Empowerplus, a supplement which about 36 common vitamins, minerals and anti-oxidants (the exact vitamins they include will not be disclosed by the company), is a cure for a variety of mental illnesses such as bipolar disorder. However, the Canadian government charges that the company lacks the compelling scientific evidence to back up their product claims.

Opinions regarding Empowerplus and the Canadian lawsuit come from all sides. Ron Lajeunesse, executive director of the Canadian Mental Health Association's Alberta division, is a proponent of the supplement, citing personal knowledge of its benefits and warning of increased suicides if it is recalled.

[Lajeunesse] said he knows many people who have been helped by taking Empowerplus. And he warned that withdrawing the product from the market could result in 'dozens of suicides.'

However, Ron Reinhold, a former Health Canada drug inspector and a former board member of the Schizophrenia Society of Alberta, has a different opinion. "The mentally ill community is being targeted and being used in a business-opportunity way for a couple of lay people to make a good living."

The preliminary scientific evidence, while extremely sparse, is somewhat positive. A study in the 2001 edition of the Journal of Clinical Psychiatry cites that 19 of 22 male bipolar patients had beneficial responses to the supplement, some lasting up to nine months. A small study at the University of Calgary (principal investigator: Bonnie Kaplan) had very preliminary findings to support these results.

An advisory issued on June 6, 2003 by Health Canada warns that taking Empowerplus could put one's health at risk.

Schizophrenia.com considers this product to be unproven, with risks that currently outweigh possible benefits. The product is, in our opinion, burdened by excessively positive marketing claims given the minimal testing the product has received, as well as by lack of information (the company won't reveal what is in the product) and very high costs - we've seen estimates that monthly costs can range from $60 to $700 (Canadian $ for a vitamin mix that would likely cost only a couple of dollars if purchased independently) - suggesting gross profit margins for the TrueHope "Nonprofit" in the 95% or higher range - which if not illegal, certainly is (in our view) of questionable ethics for a company/nonprofit (they seem to have a bit of both) that claims to be focused on helping mentally ill people. We recommend you avoid "TrueHope" - but read up on the benefits of other vitamins that have much more research behind them and are available for a fraction of the cost of the "empowerplus" products. For more information and research on Empowerplus, as well as expert opinions, see

TrueHope EmpowerPlus Information - www.schizophrenia.com/treatments.htm#empower

more information on Vitamins that seem to help with schizophrenia

Source: Calgary Herald, July 7 2004 (Section: News, p. A5)

Article Headline: Charges laid for sale of health supplement: Product alleged to cure mental illness


As a mother who has a daughter with sz, I remember when our family first started this journey towards trying to understand this illness. I tried to find the "magic cure" and one of those "cures" was vitamin supplements. We went to a naturopath who claimed she could help my daughter. After thousands of dollars spent on visits and supplements, I discovered her claims were false. I honestly don't think she meant to be dishonest but rather had such little understanding of the scope of this illness. I don't believe sz is covered in Naturopathic colleges and if it is, probably covered very inadequately. Claims of healing folks with natural remedies sound very enticing and attractive to family members and consumers but BUYER BEWARE .... our family discovered it has absolutely no value at all in the treatment of schizophrenia. The only thing that works are pharmacological drugs.

Posted by: Moeder at August 8, 2004 01:33 PM

Please update your information. The verdict from the court case is out and a full transcript can be found on Truehope's website www.truehope.com. They were vindicated and the judge ruled that the treatment was effective. The judge also said that Truehope could be held criminally liable if they DID NOT provide the supplement to Canadians. Please update your page. The Calgary Sun article, found on the front page of their website, is very scathing. At the most the monthly cost is two bottles per month at $69.98 USD. Where did you get your information from? Ron Reinhold has since appended his webpage on Truehope. The reason why I am emotional about this is I see it working in the life of my son. In the past we tried everything including vitamins and minerals. A good friend told us about Truehope and I didn't want anything to do with it. The next time I heard about it was when my doctor suggested that we give it a try. He said that a hard case patient of his had used the supplement (initially against his wishes) and she was doing much better on EM Power Plus without the use of psychtropic medications.
After 6 months my son is doing better than we have seen him in years. It was not a quick fix but we persisted with it under the advice of our doctor and slowly but surely he started to get better. We kept track of his symtoms with Truehope's Symptom Evalution Forms. At first the good days were few and far between and we thought we had wasted our time and money. Then the good days started to out number the bad days. Now, the bad days are few and far between and like anyone else's - very manageble. Please update your information so that others may have a chance to find the benefit that my son and our family has found.

Posted by: Cory at September 18, 2006 09:26 PM

Post a comment

Please enter this code to enable your comment -
Remember Me?
(you may use HTML tags for style)
* indicates required