Dr. Charles Popper was not always interested in nutrients. As Clinical Instructor in Psychiatry at Harvard Medical School, he was (and still is) a prominent expert in the use of psychiatric medications.
He became interested in nutrient treatments for mood disorders only when he observed first-hand a dramatic response to a micronutrient formulation that was co-developed† by Hardy Nutritionals® Founder David Hardy . Before treatment with the nutrient formula, the 10-year-old boy with bipolar disorder experienced “severe temper tantrums, which had lasted for 2 to 4 hours daily for 4 months.” After taking the specialized multi-nutrient treatment for a short time, the boy enjoyed “full stabilization without psychiatric medications” or side-effects.
The effect on Dr. Popper was powerful. In a recent media interview, he commented, “Now, we don’t have any psychiatric drugs that can do that. I’ve never seen a psychiatric drug do that in any case!”
Since witnessing this dramatic recovery, Dr. Popper has treated “several hundred youth and adults” using Daily Essential Nutrients and its earlier versions, with excellent success.
Many independent researchers around the world are reporting similar results.
About Dr. Popper’s scientific review
In the July 2014 publication of the medical journal Child and Adolescent Psychiatric Clinics of North America, Dr. Popper reviews the existing scientific research on micronutrient treatments for mood disorders and summarizes his valuable clinical experience with these nutrient treatments.
Here are a few highlights from Dr. Popper’s comprehensive 80-page review article, “Single-Micronutrient and Broad-Spectrum Micronutrient Approaches for Treating Mood Disorders in Youth and Adults”:
Dr. Popper first addresses the question of whether or not well-fed populations get sufficient nutrition from their food.
He concludes that while blatant nutrient deficiency is uncommon in Western populations, nutrient insufficiency is rampant. He comments, “In view of the numerous nutritional insufficiencies in each individual micronutrient observed in parts of the population, it seems clear that a significant proportion of the population has suboptimal micronutrient status.”
When individuals do not get sufficient nutrients to meet their personal needs, they may begin to experience mental health issues such as mood and anxiety disorders.
Dr. Popper discusses the many factors that may increase nutrient needs above ‘normal’ recommended levels, including genetics, disease, stress, injury, medications, gastrointestinal issues, life stage, and diet.
Nutrient treatments of mood disorders
Dr. Popper reviews all of the mental health research conducted to date using nutritional treatments. He stresses that single-nutrient research has shown very few clinically meaningful results, while recent research using multiple nutrients has shown very promising results.
Although a few nutrients, such as folate, vitamin D, vitamin B12, thiamine, zinc, chromium, and selenium have shown limited effectiveness for mood issues when used alone, Dr. Popper makes it clear that generally, single-nutrient treatments have shown “few positive findings and the mostly minor clinical improvements.”
“Historically, treatments of disease states are examined one drug at a time, following the traditional medical model of investigating the effect of changing a single variable,” Dr. Popper states. “This model has largely guided the exploration of micronutrient treatments of disease states, such as depression, with the vast majority of studies examining one micronutrient at a time.”
He continues, “This approach makes sense for drugs, but it is suspect for nutrients: micronutrients typically act in concert physiologically rather than as single actors… In fact, treating with a single micronutrient is often disruptive, because it throws off the balance among the interacting micronutrients, potentially creating relative micronutrient insufficiencies.”
“A more nutritionally and scientifically sensible approach would be to examine the effects of micronutrients acting in concert,” he reasons.
Broad-spectrum micronutrient treatments
The relatively recent approach of using broad-spectrum micronutrient treatments in mental health is showing impressive results.
Dr. Popper comments, “Broad-spectrum micronutrient strategies supply a wide range of vitamins and minerals, an approach that is likely to provide more pervasive and significant physiologic changes than supplying just one or a few micronutrients at a time.”
He emphasizes that there is no clinically validated method to determine what levels of nutrients each individual needs for optimal health, so multi-nutrient treatments offer a “practical and sensible alternative” to ensure that all individual nutrient needs are met.
After reviewing the scientific literature, Dr. Popper comments, “Broad-spectrum micronutrient interventions have been examined and found surprisingly effective for altering mood, cognition, and behavior.”
Many of these studies measured dramatic improvements in up to 90 percent of mood disorder cases. He notes that these studies frequently reported “remission rather than simple improvement of symptoms”. Most of the research on broad-spectrum micronutrient treatments was conducted using formulations co-developed† by Hardy Nutritionals® Founder David Hardy.
Broad-spectrum micronutrient treatment, according to Dr. Popper, is promising as “a low-risk, low-stigma, health-promoting treatment for violence in prisons and conduct disorder in schools; a non-abusable treatment for ADHD that is more likely to enhance growth than to diminish it; a treatment for MDD [major depressive disorder] and bipolar disorder with fewer side effects and seemingly greater long-term stability than current approaches.”
Advantages of broad-spectrum nutrients
Many leading-edge doctors currently use Daily Essential Nutrients in medical practice as a treatment for mood, anxiety, and behavior-related disorders. Dr. Popper gives a few reasons why:
- Effectiveness. Dr. Popper states, “Broad-spectrum micronutrient treatments appear effective in early controlled trials as potent treatments of ADHD, aggressive and disordered conduct, and mood disorders in youth and adults.”
- Very low relapse rate. Dr. Popper observes, “once a patient with a mood disorder is stabilized on this treatment, the rate of symptom relapse is very low.” He has consistently achieved these results in his own clinical practice: “I have many patients who previously required close medication management on conventional drugs, but who now check in every 3 to 12 months with little symptomatology to report.”
- Affordability. Dr. Popper continues, “This ‘super stability’ of micronutrient treatment relative to conventional psychiatric medication lowers the cost of medical care.”
- Minimal side effects.After comparing the side effects of micronutrients with psychiatric drugs, Dr. Popper concludes,“It is evident that the adverse effects of the broad-spectrum micronutrient treatments are mild in comparison with the side effects of most conventional psychopharmacological treatments.”
- Reduced medication use. Dr. Popper emphasizes that nearly all patients can “discontinue their previous psychiatric medications entirely or at least reduce their doses” when using specialized micronutrient treatments such as Daily Essential Nutrients.
- Reduced stigma. “This is a new approach to mental health care, and one that youths and families embrace as de-stigmatizing,” Dr. Popper states.
Micronutrient treatment guidelines
Tapering off psychiatric medications. Dr. Popper makes it clear that when patients are using specialized treatments like Daily Essential Nutrients, “psychiatric drug doses need to be gradually and carefully lowered,” and that “patients actually do better once the psychiatric medications are discontinued entirely.”
Medication interactions. Dr. Popper advises doctors to “[become] well informed about the techniques of managing nutrient-drug interactions and the pitfalls involved in transitioning a patient from psychiatric medications to micronutrient treatment.”
Lithium. Dr. Popper stresses that “broad-spectrum micronutrients produce a 100-fold potentiation of lithium.” Perhaps this is because lithium, as a mineral, acts as a substitute for other minerals to produce its mood-stabilizing effects.
In order to avoid this interaction, patients should be advised to taper off lithium completely during the first few weeks of treatment with Daily Essential Nutrients.
Patients rarely need to take additional lithium during treatment with Daily Essential Nutrients, as Daily Essential Nutrients contains trace amounts of lithium. However, Dr. Popper advises that “if residual manic symptoms persist, the addition of . . . ‘micro doses’ of lithium can, in my opinion, be very helpful.”
Broad-spectrum micronutrients for ‘healthy’ individuals
Dr. Popper’s research review also showed that in healthy individuals, micronutrients can subtly “improve sense of well-being, general energy, clear-headedness, and agreeable feelings and reduced anxiety and stress responses.”
He reflects, “If judged by the standards of a therapeutic intervention for a medical disorder, this intervention might be viewed as worthwhile but not particularly strong. If judged by the standards of an inexpensive and easy life enhancement, these same findings might be viewed as dramatic. Who wouldn’t want a consistent, albeit small, improvement in mental energy and clarity of mind? Who wouldn’t want a subtle ‘tune-up’ for anxiety and stress management?”
‘Changing the way that psychiatry will be practiced’
“Obviously, additional research is needed,” Dr. Popper concedes. However, he has seen more than enough to be convinced. At a recent scientific conference, Dr. Popper praised early pioneers of broad-spectrum nutrient treatments with these words: “I believe that their work is going to be – is already – historically pivotal in changing the way that psychiatry will be practiced. Make no mistake: this is a historically significant piece of work that’s being done.”
 Popper CW (2001). Do vitamins or minerals (apart from lithium) have mood-stabilizing effects? Journal of Clinical Psychiatry, 62, 933-935.
 Popper CW. Single-micronutrient and broad-spectrum micronutrient approaches for treating mood disorders in youth and adults. Child Adolesc Psychiatr Clin N Am. 2014 Jul;23(3):591-672.
†Refers to pre-2013 versions of Truehope EMPowerplus which was co-formulated by David Hardy. Truehope EMPowerplus is a registered trademark of The Synergy Group of Canada Inc.