Over two thousand years ago, it had been noticed that the waters of certain mineral springs seemed to have curative powers for people suffering from demonic possession and in“excitable nervousness”. In the second century A.D., the Greek physician Seranus Ephesios recommended natural waters such as alkaline springs as a treatment for mania. Over the ensuing two millennia, countless people have “taken the waters” for a variety of ailments, real and imagined, at fashionable (and not so fashionable) spas throughout the world, particularly in Europe. Lithium is so effective in controlling the mood extremes of bipolar disorder that to this day it is still used in the treatment of both manic and manic-depressive disease. The fact that lithium controls both mania and depression (the former more effectively than the latter) is both wonderful and puzzling, as it suggests that both of these conditions are, somehow, symptoms of the same underlying neurochemical disturbance.
Lithium’s mechanism of action on the brain is still unknown, speculative; it may affect the levels of the neurotransmitters serotonin and norepinephrine in the brain. There is also evidence that lithium inhibits the action of inositol monophosphatase and several other enzymes that play key roles in mood-related neuromodulation (a complex type of signaling process related to neurotransmission). Also in Alzheimers, there is a decrease of the amylold/beta plaques and neuro-fibrillatory tangles that are the hallmark of this disorder. Lithium protects against neuronal death very much like the drug for Alzheimer’s disease, Namenda, by decreasing glutamate induced excitotoxcity. The latter is caused by our neurotransmiiter because of stress and is a cause of Alzheimer's. Excessive amounts of glutamate, the brain's most prevalent transmitter damages our brain cells. Lithuum stimulates the protective Brain Derived Neurotropic Factor(BDNF),which is essential for the development and maintenance of healthy neurons. One further mechanism has been described recently. This is it stimulates the growth of new brain cells, a process called neurogenesis. The increases of grey matter which is mostly the supporting tissue, the glial cells, we now feel play a role in the maintenance of a healthy brain. This drug/supplement was in the past thought to be helpful in the preservation of the neurons in M.S. and ALS, but recent double blind studies showed little or no effect.
Medically only Lithium Carbonate in therapeutic doses are used for the FDA indicated psychiatric uses. This requires a prescription. It is very inexpensive in that it has been generic for the last 25 years. The dose of 6O0-18OOmg day is usually required for this treatment.
I have used this mineral for the management of viral, drug induced and congenital leukopenia that seems to respond within two weeks. In these low white count returns in as much time in the hereditary variety. In drug or viral cases, it may have thwarted a significant bacterial that can result from low white blood cells. It is important that the blood is monitored periodically on long term therapy so that the therapeutic range of .5 to l.5mm/l is obtained. If lower than this, there may be poor results. If higher, there may be negative effects on the kidneys and can cause tremors and psychosis. Even in the desired range after many months lithium can cause electrolyte abnormalities and low thyroid and these too must be monitored. Much smaller doses of other non- prescriptive lithium salts such as orate, aspartate and chloride are used with varying success. I have used 300 to 350 mg daily of the prescriptive carbonate without monitoring. Time will tell if this will help those that ask for it. But at least it is safe and inexpensive. According to the complimentary literature, the orate salt is safer and more effective since it improves the specific effects of lithium many-fold by increasing lithium bio-utilization. The orotates transport the lithium to the membranes of mitochondria, lysosomes and the glial cells. Lithium orotate stabilizes the lysosomal membranes and prevents the enzyme reactions that are responsible for the sodium depletion and dehydration effects of other lithium salts. Because of the superior bioavailability of lithium orotate, the therapeutic dosage is much less than prescription forms of lithium. For example, in cases of severe depression, the therapeutic dosage of lithium orotate is 150 mg/day. This is compared to 900-1800 mg of the prescription forms. In this dosage range of lithium orotate, there are no adverse lithium side reactions and no need for monitoring blood serum measurements.