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  • EMPOWERPLUS - Synergy Group and other stories

    Scientist refutes Tory MP claims on nutraceuticals

    The Calgary Herald Randy Boswell, CanWest News Service August 13, 2005 Saturday - Pg. A11 A Conservative MP who used an Alberta scientist's study of nutritional supplements to bolster his campaign to deregulate nutraceuticals has been targeted by the researcher in a leading international science publication for misrepresenting his experiments. James Lunney, a chiropractor and Tory MP for Nanaimo, B.C., argued in a parliamentary committee hearing that research by University of Lethbridge neuroscientist Bryan Kolb showed that after feeding lobotomized rats a controversial Canadian product called EMPowerplus "their brains actually regrew." Lunney passed pictures of rat brains to other MPs at the April 2004 meeting to drive home his point that the work of the "world-renowned neuroscientist" had helped demonstrate the folly of regulating natural health products "to protect Canadians from things that are good for them." But Kolb has told the British magazine The Scientist that he has "never claimed that EMP regenerates brains" and that he did not actually feed the product to the rats in the experiments Lunney described to the federal health committee. He did say that subsequent experiments using "the real EMP" yielded results similar to the first study, but stated that "we have absolutely no evidence" that the product prompts regeneration of brain tissue. Kolb also responded to comments made by David Hardy, co-founder of Truehope, the Alberta-based maker of EMPowerplus, who said at another committee hearing this May that Kolb "had heard of the results of EMPowerplus in humans and decided to try this in animals. To his amazement, animals on this supplement, EMPowerplus, recovered 100 per cent of their cognitive function. In fact, they actually performed better after having had the entire frontal lobe of their brain removed." Kolb told The Scientist his conclusions are less sweeping. "What we have is less injury in the brain. This could have resulted from some regenerative process but we have not proven that, nor is that in my research plan at present." Kolb told the magazine he has made "no mention of regeneration and they should not either. I have mentioned this to them on at least two occasions." He could not be reached for further comment. Lunney, a champion of natural health products who has spearheaded an effort to ease government restrictions on marketing nutraceuticals, told CanWest News Service he has never spoken directly with Kolb. But he said he is "not surprised"
    by Kolb's comments since, "as a researcher, he has to be cautious about clinical claims"
    and "careful about drawing conclusions." Lunney claimed The Scientist and its writer, Marvin Ross, have a bias against natural health products. He stood by the comments he made to fellow MPs about Kolb's research, adding that "I know the power of nutritional products" for people's health when given in appropriate amounts. EMPowerplus -- a vitamin and mineral product touted as a relief to some sufferers of psychiatric illnesses but dismissed as ineffective by critics -- has been the focus of a struggle between Truehope and Health Canada regulators, who ordered the company to stop selling the product in 2003. In a move condemned by Lunney as an unwarranted "Keystone Cop" operation, police acting at the request of Health Canada even raided the company's Alberta headquarters. A University of Calgary study of the product was halted at the time, but Lunney said Friday that new research on the supplement is underway and a version of EMPowerplus has been approved by Health Canada. When a proposed federal bill easing controls on natural health products passed second reading in the House of Commons earlier this year, Lunney praised his fellow MPs and said: "It is time that our law caught up with science."