Stories of People Who Beat Bipolar Naturally


An Albertan women says a controversial nutritional supplement gave her her life back. Autumn Stringam suffers from bipolar disorder. As Michelle Skerman reports, she is now sharing her story with others.

They’re a picture perfect family, but the Stringam family in Coaldale, Alberta wasn’t always this idyllic.

Healing Depression & Bipolar Disorder Without Drugs features Gracelyn Guyol’s own story and those of thirteen other people around the country who have cured their depression and bipolar disorder using only natural therapies. In-depth research and the expertise of alternative health-care professionals are included in this landmark guide for patients and caregivers seeking responsible, safe alternatives to psychiatric drugs.

“I think I was a terrible Mom at that point in my life,” Autumn Stringam.

After the birth of her first child, Autumn Stringam was diagnosed with bipolar disorder. A mental illness characterized by unpredictable swings between depression and mania.

“Waking up at 2 o’clock in the afternoon and jumping out of bed and throwing on a ton of make-up and running through the house cleaning on a frenzy for the rest of the afternoon and then crashing again at night. Just out of control. There was no in-between,” Autumn Stringam.

She’s published her story in a book, A Promise of Hope, telling her readers about the nutritional supplement that made her well. For her, EmPowerPlus, a combination of 36 vitamins, minerals, botanicals, and amino acids was nothing short of a miracle cure.

But getting access to the supplement turned into a battle with Health Canada. In 2002, the government tried to stop patients from getting the EmPowerPlus supplements. It said the company TrueHope was making false claims about its effectiveness. The matter event went to court and Health Canada eventually granted the product approval as a natural health product. That means Canadians with mental illness can legally get the supplement. A victory for Stringam but not the end of the controversy.

“I think it’s funny that there can be thousands of people who have suddenly become well using this treatment and still have the scientists wonder if it works? For me, just because we’re living it, it’s so obvious,” Autumn Stringam.

Autumn’s husband who now works for TrueHope says he has all the proof he needs. “Because I can see almost day by day changes in her, getting farther and farther away. She started talking to me about wanting to die and not wanting to be a part of this [life] anymore. It was really tough. The contrast of what we’re seeing today is just amazing,” Dana Stringam, Autumn’s husband, TrueHope Nutritionals.

The battle and the illness behind them, this family is now truly enjoying Autumn. [LAUGHTERS]

EmPowerPlus is now involved in a clinical trial among bipolar patients at the University of Calgary.

In tonight’s Health Beat report: Researchers at Children’s Hospital are unveiling some exciting new findings. We’ve told you about a medication called TrueHope before. It’s a natural supplement that farmers use on aggressive pigs. Well, an Alberta family came up with the idea of trying it out on people with severe mood disorders (bipolar) and it seems to be working.

As Leanne Liblock tells us one family from Calgary is already reaping the benefits of this unusual idea. [There’s nothing unusual about it. Chemicals needed to ensure that our brain and body are working properly are supplied with nutrients (Nutrients: Essential dietary factors such as vitamins, minerals, amino acids and fatty acids. ) And nutrients come from food sources or dietary supplements, which are derived mostly from fruits, plants, and other food sources.]

This sound is music to the ears of Meghan Wade’s family. The 11 year old used to suffer from severe mood swings (bipolar).

“It was just like there was a another side of me. You know, you’re all happy, joyful then the moods kind of went like this [up and down like a wave],” Meghan Wade. “And just happy to low, low to happy. It felt like I was somewhere standing watching myself, while I was here just bursting like a volcano, all mad.”

Meghan went to see a psychologist who suggested a program being researched at the Children’s Hospital. The research focused on a supplement called TrueHope.

“The supplement [EmPowerPlus] is not exotic,” Dr. Bonnie Kaplan, Researcher. “Everyone has difficulty getting used to the idea that the supplement is really a broad-based dietary mineral and vitamin formulation. The emphasis is on minerals [a nutrient found in certain foods], less on vitamins. But it [EmPowerPlus] has 36 ingredients. Did you know that we eat 33 of them every single day?”

Dr. Kaplan and her team already knew the supplement, EmPowerPlus, worked on adults [with bipolar]. They wanted to try it on children.

“They didn’t all have the same psychiatric diagnosis, but they all had some significant mood problems: Explosive rage, temper problems, that kind of thing. And in all cases we showed a statistically and clinically significant symptom improvement with the supplement, EmPowerPlus,” Dr. Bonnie Kaplan.

Researchers did specific tests with two of the children. They gave them the supplements, EmPowerPlus, and watched their progress. Then they took the supplements away. The mood swings came back. They did it twice, so they had proof the supplements were working, but they still didn’t know why.

“I’m such a better person and I’m happier than when I’m all…Ehhhh,” Meghan Wade.

Meghan will continue to monitor her mood. She knows it’s an uphill battle. But she’s sure her chances, like her mood, are much improved.

Researchers are still studying the supplement [EmPowerPlus]. The Harvard Medical School is now on board. If you’d like to know more about it, you can check it out at


A Promise of Hope, Autumn Stringam. Some children inherit "the family nose." Autumn Stringam and her brother Joseph inherited the family bipolar disorder, a severe mental illness that led to their mother's and grandfather's suicides. Autumn, at 22, was psychotic and in in a psychiatric hospital on suicide watch; Joseph, at 15, was prone to violent episodes so terrifying the family feared for their lives. But after they began taking a nutritional supplement developed by their father and based, incredibly, on a formula given to aggressive hogs--Autumn's and Joseph's symptoms disappeared. Today they both lead normal, productive lives.

A Promise of Hope is the personal story of Autumn Stringam's flight from madness to wellness, all due to the vitamin and mineral supplement that works on the premise that some forms of mental illness are caused by nutritional deficiencies. An honest book that exposes the hidden torment of bipolar disorder, it is the story of a daughter seeking to forgive her mother. A Promise of Hope is also an astonishing scientific account that moves from a kitchen table in Alberta to the treatment offices of a distinguished Harvard pshyciatrist and into the labs of a skeptical medial establishment. It climaxes in a bitter--but eventually triumphant--battles with Health Canada, in which the tiny supplement company is exonerated and praised for saving the lives of thousands of Canadians previously thought lost to mental illness. More than anything, A Promise of Hope is a powerful story and a call for a new understanding of the causes of mental illness and its treatments.

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An exlusive interview with Margot Kidder - From Superman to Superwoman.

By Carol Crenna

Q: Where in Canada are you originally from?

A: Margot: I was born in Yellowknife, which I still consider my hometown, then we moved to Labrador, then Northern Quebec and then to Vancouver where I finished high school before moving to the US.

Q:How did you learn about using natural therapy for manic depression and bi-polar disorder, and when did you begin using it?

A: Margot: For several years I took many prescribed antipsychotic drugs, which made my condition worse. Even when I was in the psychiatric ward in LA, at my lowest point (which was covered by the media), I knew there must be a healthier way. When I was released, my brother in Vancouver took me to a woman who practices Five Element Acupuncture. Within a month she was able to “bring me back” from my manic depressive state, and I was no longer delusional. She mentioned that Dr. Abram Hoffer in Victoria had enormous success with orthomolecular medicine in treating manic depression, but he was booked for almost a year before I was able to see him. During that time, I began my own research, reading medical texts which discussed vitamin, mineral and amino acid deficiencies common in psychiatric disorders.

I was then asked to host a documentary about orthomolecular medicine and learned that there were brilliant doctors who had been practicing what I had become interested in, using medicinal doses of nutrients to treat illness. I worked with Dr. Hoffer and several others during this project and after six months with regular acupuncture and orthomolecular medicine my moods began to stabilize, and after a year and a half I became fairly “normal”. There was a lot of luck involved in my recovery process. Most people aren’t as fortunate to be able to get better from an illness as serious as mine. Unfortunately, they get over-medicated instead.

Q:What nutrient deficiencies did you have, and what did they supplement with?

A: Margot: I think I was deficient in most things! For many years, I didn’t eat properly, if I ate at all. In my business, people were always on a diet and, in retrospect, I could have had an undiagnosed eating disorder. There were too many parties, and then for years afterward, abuse of the psychiatric drugs. They also deplete many nutrients because they put your body under enormous stress.

Since every person’s metabolism is slightly different, 10 people diagnosed with manic depression may have 10 different deficiencies. It’s a very individualized process. I take Vitamin B-Complex injections, which are absolutely essential for nerve function. They assist amino acids to become neurotransmitters which enable our brain to work properly, and Vitamins B, C, and enzymes act as co-factors to create essential metabolic changes. But you need all essential nutrients, everything nature intended taken in combination and all working together.

Q:How have your eating habits changed?

A: Margot: I make sure I have the right amount of the foods I need, without being obsessed about it. I’m not a good cook, so taking a lot of supplements is easier for me. My essential nutrients including Omega 3 fats and vitamins are always with me, in my fridge at home or carried when I travel. Now, instead of spending hours fanatically shopping for and preparing my meals, I eat well but I’m more concerned with eating regularly to keep blood sugar levels up.

Q:Did food sensitivities partly contribute to the manic depression problem?

A: Margot: Yes. I had sensitivities to the usual culprits, dairy, wheat and egg whites. I avoided them for years, but once you have gotten your body stabilized you can eat them sometimes with no ill effects. Years ago, my system was so fragile that the least amount of stress, even from eating these, would push me over the edge. It may take a long time to become well on natural treatments, but it also takes much longer to become ill again because your body is healthier.

Q:What other changes have you made to your lifestyle?

A: Margot: Sleep is really important. One factor contributing to manic depression is that a person in initial stages feels that they no longer need to sleep. I now strictly get eight hours each night. I also exercise. Living in Montana I hike with my dogs and ski, and right this minute, while filming a movie in Regina, I’m off to find a skating rink! Once you feel well, the way I have for several years, it no longer becomes the central focus in life. I can now simply live.

Q:You have done many lectures, videos, and been commended for your advocacy toward natural therapies and better treatment of “mentally ill” patients. Have you found this to be as fulfilling as your acting career?

A: Margot: It is very fulfilling in a very different way. And, though I may have helped to get the word out, I still find it frustrating sometimes to see friends going to psychiatrists who prescribe lots of pills, when I want to stop them and show them that there is an alternative. Though there is definitely a place for prescription drugs, their abuse by the medical system is obscene.

Q:Do you feel that there will be changes toward the use of orthomolecular medicine in the future?

A: Margot: The change will depend on the public, only, and I don’t know how long it will take. It’s against the law to patent a naturally occurring substance such as a vitamin, and pharmaceutical companies make billions of dollars from patents. If they can’t make a profit from creating Vitamin B or zinc, they will instead promote a new breakthrough drug, which, if it’s an anti-psychotic substance, simply means another tranquillizer. It is the most profitable industry in the world, and partially funds the US government. It surpasses oil in terms of profits and my country recently went to war due to oil pricing. What does that say they will do to keep this other industry in tact? It is up to patients and their families to question what they are being given, and to consumers to demand better, more natural alternatives.

Q:Do you feel that, no matter what the cause, those with mental illness could benefit from orthomolecular medicine? And isn’t it expensive, since it isn’t covered under medical insurance?

A: Margot: At some point, you say, ”I could have gotten this way due to A, or B, or C or D, but really it doesn’t matter. The key is in finding out exactly what is going on in your system now using appropriate tests, then trying to fix it.” Those who choose this method have to finance it themselves, but in the long run, it becomes cheaper for them then the conventional route. It’s like getting an education. If you invest in the short term, it pays off substantially later.

Q:It has been many years since you played Lois Lane in Superman. Have you completed any other films lately?

A: Margot: I finished one in Calgary I loved called “Chicks With Sticks” about a women’s hockey team. Hockey is a passion of mine. I also did a TV movie called “Society’s Child “, but my main job right now is being a grandmother and I’m loving every minute of it!

Margot Kidder will be guest speaking at the 33rd International Nutritional Medicine Today Conference held at Fairmont Waterfront Centre Hotel in Vancouver at a special Public Evening on Friday April 30 at 7PM. The conference runs from April 29 to May 2, 2004. Dr. Abram Hoffer will also be speaking at the event. For more information call 416-733-2117.
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