The puzzle of Lithium

After the acceptance of Cade’s initial brilliant work on the effect of Lithium salts on bipolar diseases and the slow use of it in severe depression, Lithium has been in the doldrums of further investigation.  Under medical control it has found to be effective, safe, and toxicity has been well observed and controlled – this is in significant doses of 900-1200 mg per day with monitoring. 

Their research seems to have stopped with its use in bipolar disease and depression.  Little attention if any has been focused on a multitude of other disturbances of mood, degenerative diseases of the brain and spinal cord, personality effects, etc.  One would have thought that with Lithium having been shown to be effective on bipolar diseases (manic depressive illness) that there would have been a flurry of further investigations on other diseases of the nervous system.  But no, this seems to have been the end of the story!  Again, is it a result of no patent, no profit?  Where are the societies to put up the baton of Lithium research – missing I fear!  Profit seems to be the only motive for research in many subjects.

One is struck by the differences in nervous tissue particularly the brain than the rest of the human body.  Firstly, the brain is somewhat isolated by the blood-brain barrier which excludes certain elements, natural or otherwise, from affecting brain physiology.  Like the heart, the brain works 24 hours per day and both have end arteries where a blockage would cause infarction.  On review one is struck by the number of degenerative disorders that affect the brain compared to other tissues and organs in the body.  Interestingly, many of these degenerative disorders ranging from Alzheimer’s, Picks Disease, motor neuron disease, etc. are of unknown etiology for the most part, poorly understood regarding treatment etc.  One wonders whether these could represent a common response to a single entity?

Medicine is very poor dealing with degenerative illness yet Lithium has been shown to be effective in stimulating or regenerating neuronal cells in parts of the brain particularly the hippocampus and grey matter.  One is struck by the absence of studies on micro or medium doses of Lithium in these degenerative illnesses.

It is puzzling the hiatus from Cade’s work showing that Lithium was a good treatment for bipolar disorders and depression. 

Perhaps the real point of this discussion is that there is no one responsible for promoting natural agents.

There is considerable literature in small animal studies that Lithium may be useful in preventing degenerative disorders in the brain, opening the spectrum of help in Parkinson’s Disease, Huntington’s Disease, Alzheimer’s Disease etc.

It is puzzling that there is no definitive literature on Lithium intake related to degenerative disease in the brain or for that matter pure values.



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