Vol. 8, No. 1, 2002 Page 3

SPECULATIONS.... Pig feed for depression?

A review of new and novel hypotheses about the origins and treatment of violent, criminal, or aberrant behavior.

Sometimes science takes strange turns, as a recent article in the Journal of Clinical Psychiatry proves.

In 1995, an engineer whose two children suffered from severe bipolar disorder (manic depression), and whose wife had committed suicide after suffering with the disorder, mentioned his family's plight to a friend. The friend, who sold livestock products, mentioned that the children's violent behavior and other symptoms sounded similar to a form of aggression seen in pigs, and that the animals responded to a special feed.

The engineer, Anthony Stephan, and his friend, David Hardy, decided to try mixing a combination of vitamins and minerals similar to those in the pig feed. When they gave the mixture to Stephan's children, both responded dramatically with a few weeks, with the son's behavior becoming normal and the daughter able to stop taking medications.

The two contacted officials at the University of Lethbridge in Canada, which asked nutrition researcher Bonnie Kaplan to evaluate the supplement. She and her colleagues tested 11 adult patients (19 to 46 years old) in a six-month trial, and report improvements in symptoms ranging from 55% to 66%. In addition, they say, "need for psychotropic medications decreased by more than 50 percent." The only side effect noted in the study was mild, temporary nausea in some subjects.

Their findings, reported in the journal in December, have been replicated by Harvard professor Charles Popper. Popper reports that of 22 bipolar patients, 19 showed a positive response to the supplements, and that of 15 subjects taking medications for bipolar disorder, 11 were able to discontinue the drugs. Kaplan and colleagues are now conducting a randomized, placebo-controlled trial of the supplements in adults, and several open-label trials in children.

Kaplan suggests that the effectiveness of the supplement is due to its combination of nutrients. "There's a huge amount of research over the years that individual nutrients affect mood in normal people and people with mental illness," she says, "But the changes that they've observed with their one-nutrient-at-a-time approach have tended to be small."

Bipolar disorder, which affects as many as 1 in 100 people, is strongly linked to violent, impulsive behavior. (A high percentage of school shooters, for instance, have been diagnosed with bipolar disorder.) The disorder frequently does not respond well to drug treatments. Earlier (see Crime Times Vol 5, No 1, 1999, p. 1), researcher Andrew Stoll reported dramatic improvements in many bipolar patients taking supplements of omega-3 fatty acids.


"Effective mood stabilization with a chelated mineral supplement: An open-label trial in bipolar disorder," Bonnie J. Kaplan, J. S. Simpson, Richard C. Ferre, Chris P. Gorman, David M. McMullen, and Susan G. Crawford, Journal of Clinical Psychiatry, Vol. 62, No. 12, December 2001, 936-44.

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"Bipolar depression eased by pig feed," Brad Evenson, National Post (Canada), December 8, 2001.

Related Article: [2003, Vol. 1]

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