Vitamins for Treatment-Resistant Childhood Bipolar Disorder?

October 25, 2010 · Posted in Potential Treatments 


Update (11/1/2010): According to Dr. Charles Popper of Massachusetts General Hospital and McLean Hospital, particular caution should be used when considering the combination of EMPowerplus with psychopharmacological medications.  When used alone, the vitamin compound appears to be relatively safe. However, in combination with other drugs, Empowerplus appears to enhance the medications’ effects, both positive and adverse.  So use of very low doses of the vitamin compound with gradual increases should be combined with appropriate decreases in doses of other medications.

Researcher Mary Fristad from Ohio State University completed a small, uncontrolled study of a novel treatment approach, the multi-vitamin and mineral preparation labeled EMPowerplus.  Initial case reports from other researchers indicated that the compound led to remarkable and sustained effectiveness in children with bipolar disorder who were unresponsive to most other psychopharmacological approaches.

Fristad’s open study included ten children. Participants were slowly titrated to a minimum of 12 capsules/day with a maximum of 15 capsules/day.

Fristad and colleagues saw 37% improvement in depression and 45% improvement in mania in the entire group of patients who began treatment, while in those who completed the study, there was 71% improvement in depression and 58% improvement in mania. Side effects were benign, but the preparation needs to be administered judiciously in conjunction with a physician’s supervision.

Dr. Fristad hopes to conduct further double-blind, placebo-controlled trials of this compound, which also showed promising open results in case studies by Kaplan et al. in 2002 and 2004 and was written about by Charles Popper, a researcher at Massachusetts General Hospital, in 2001.

The EMPowerplus preparation is available at the web site and costs approximately $100-200 per month, but is not recommended for use without careful supervision by a physician.

EDITOR’S NOTE:  Controlled clinical trials to demonstrate efficacy have not yet been undertaken, partly due to lack of support from funding organizations and uncertainty about which of the many ingredients is active. Studies of pharmaceutical agents for treatment-resistant children without a cogent theoretical rationale are rarely a high priority despite the great need for effective treatment approaches.

Nonetheless, given initial promising results of the Fristad group and others, systematic clinical trials of this preparation are now clearly indicated.


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