DR. C’S MEDICINE CABINET: LITHIUM OROTATE

Lithium’s big claim to medical fame is it’s beneficial effect on manic depressive disorders in approximately 1/3 of the cases. It seems to benefit the manic phase more than the depressive phase, and its effect  on isolated depression is uncertain.

A recent report states that lithium works by increasing CRMP 2, which has an effect on tubulin in nerve cells. This report has not yet been confirmed.

When lithium is effective, it must be given in a dose that is almost toxic. People taking this drug should have lithium levels on a regular basis, and be alert to its numerous side effects, diarrhea, lethargy, and the like. It may also have an adverse effect on thyroid function.

I started taking low doses of lithium orotate a while back because of the touted effects on memory, mitochondrial function, and the like. I thought that our hunter gatherer ancestors probably had some exposure to lithium from the Hot Springs present in many areas, and that maybe lithium was a physiologic necessity.  Sodium and potassium are highly regulated ions in the cell membrane of all cells, I thought, so why should not lithium, a kindred element, have some effect there.

Lithium carbonate is the form that is used for treatment of manic depressive disease, and lithium orotate has not been well studied.
When one starts taking a dietary supplement, it is hard to tell whether or not it has any effect. Our bodies are complicated, and even if something does have an effect, the bodies corrective mechanisms can nullify that effect, or even cause  a reverse effect,

After further thought, I plan to start phasing out my lithium orotate. Maybe once a week would be a reasonable dosage, if at all. With irregular dosages, if I notice that I feel better on a day when I take lithium orotate, I might change my mind.

—Dr. C.

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