Lessons to be learnt from Lithium

The paper Lithium: the pharmacodynamic actions of this amazing ion by Kayleigh M. Brown in Therapeutic Advances in Psychopharmacology 2013; 3(3):163 raises a number of interesting points.  Perhaps the most important is the fact that Lithium works by inhibiting enzymes, with the most important being GSK-3.

At the same time, I have been catching up on my reading on the actions of tranquilizers, anti-depressants, mood modifiers, etc. and was struck by the main method of these and many other drugs like hypotensive etc. is on receptors.  It seems that many cells in many conditions having one or more receptors blocked spontaneously produce more receptors and thus weaken the action of the drug.  On reducing the dosage of the active drug, one gets a reverse effect.  In the sense that there are a large number of active receptors without an agonist thus withdrawal might produce more symptoms than prior to treatment.

I think the above idea that cells respond to the blockade of receptors by producing more receptors is a worrying problem particularly with anti-depressants, tranquilizers, mood-modifying drugs etc.   Withdrawal can cause more symptoms than the original illness.  Lithium seems to work by enzyme inhibition.  Luckily, inhibition of an enzyme does not seem to produce more enzymes and consequently flooding the blockage.  Thus, we have GSK-3 and inositol monophosphates enzymes that control many functions that can actually be blocked without producing a by-pass effect. 

It seems that GSK-3 particularly has a vast array of actions, blockade with Lithium ion seems to have many positive effects.

Like two faces of Eve, Lithium has an effect in large doses on manic depression and micro-doses (1 mg or less) have an effect on many other agents.  Micro-dose levels such as are found in drinking water in many areas and has been associated with a reduction of dementia, violence, crimes, etc.  Perhaps, the effect of Lithium in water is to reduce addiction and we seem to be full-speed ahead for filtered, reservoir water and we are all going to suffer from Lithium deficiency!

Actions of micro-Lithium:

·         Longevity

·         Treatment and prevention of dementia

·         Memory

·         Ischemic heart disease and hypertension (this has been known since the last 1900’s that hard water reduces heart attacks and hypertension!)

·         Spread of strokes

·         Anti-drug addiction

·         Love, sex, emotion

·         Neurodegenerative illnesses which seem to be promoted by the activation of GSK-3

·         Reduction in short fuse syndrome – over the past few decades, reaction to often minor annoyances result in violence thus short fuse syndrome is increasing

·         Shown to be effective in preventing the degradation of cartilage in the prevention of Osteoarthritis!

An interesting study would be on the use of Lithium in prisons where it has great potential to reduce the build up of violence and anger.  The introduction of a fountain with water containing Lithium is all that is needed.

From self observation, Lithium produces a minor tranquility but no effect on reaction time, a marked increase in memory recall, reduction of short fuse syndrome, not to mention a reduction in hypertension.

There are many things wrong with this world that was perhaps designed as a near perfect planet.  The removal of Lithium in our diet or water has based on many papers from Texas, Japan, and Lithuania has been associated with increased suicide, drug addiction, crime, etc. yet we continue on this path.  Never has such a simple answer to our problems been available – Lithium!

What more can you expect from a treatment costing less than $100 per year!



Purpose of posts/articles and abstracts

The main aim of our posts is to stimulate research, awareness of non-patentable or non-advertised avenues into agents that do not have the potential for profitability.  As we have said in the past – without a patent and potential profitability large commercial organizations tend to ignore these agents.

Typical examples are Glucosamine Hydrochloride, Chondroitin, Boron, Lithium, etc.  These subjects still languish without support in advertising, research, or funding.

At no time are the articles meant to provide medical advice or directions for treatment but certainly these are topics that can be discussed with your healthcare professional.

Raising awareness of these orphan agents is important.  For example, Boron, a natural element with no patent or profitability is not going to attract support other than by using social media.


Alan L. Russell

2 arms of Lithium research merge into near positive proof

As pointed out previously there has been considerable scientific literature that micro-doses of Lithium have a significant clinical effect.  This ranges from epidemiological studies of ground water Lithium to small oral doses that affect higher cerebral functions including cognitive and emotional.

The recent paper by Vanessa J. De-Paula in Bipolar Disorders 2016; 18:692-95 provides perhaps the most important step in appreciating micro-Lithium.  Her studies using cell cultures of cortical and hippocampal neurons demonstrated that low doses of Lithium 0.02 and 0.2 mM increased brain-derived neurotropic factor (BDNF).  The latter is an important factor in a whole range of neuronal function particularly its protective response in preventing degenerative cell changes and the resulting functional disability.

The results demonstrated that micro-Lithium concentrations produced highly significant improvement in BDNF secretion.  Just as interesting was the less improvement in intra-cellular BDNF in the higher dose of 2 mM concentration.  This is equivalent to the concentration of Lithium found in patients with bipolar disorder.  Little is better than more for the improvement in cortical function.

Many faces of Lithium

Over the past year I feel that I have covered a wide spectrum of proven actions of Lithium from improvement in cognitive function, reduction of violent crime, drug addiction, suicide, etc.  It was only in looking for abnormal side-effects of micro-dose Lithium that I came across considerable work clearly demonstrating a correlation between hardness in water and atherosclerotic heart disease (Voors et al Am J Epid 1970;92:164-171 and 93:259-266).  Of the six elements in drinking water causing hardness the best correlation of improving AHD is that of the Lithium content.  It is interesting that the literature in this era has Lithium in drinking water.

With the cost of ischemic heart disease (IHD) I would have thought that the article in The Lancet December 20, 1969 “Does Lithium depletion cause atherosclerotic heart disease” would have been followed even at this late date.  From the article, “it would entail a highly cost-effective means of preventing AHD and improving the quality of middle-aged life through simply enrichment of municipal water supply”.  It draws attention to the action of Lithium antagonizing five of the most potent AHD risk factors – hypertension, diabetes, tissue uric acid, type A behaviour, and serum lipid levels.  See posts on Garrod discussing lithium and gout.

Concern with tampering of water supplies is understandable but just raises the Lithium concentration in communities drawing the water from lakes, rivers, or reservoirs to that found in many countries where there is no obvious evidence of toxicity in their Lithium levels might be justifiable or warrant more research.

I suppose it is never too late to learn!


A Lithium study of one

Years ago, I would have been very apprehensive of writing about this brief period of observation on the use of Lithium.  I was brought up in medicine to have great faith in the double-blind study, this was reinforced by meta-analysis which analyzed other people’s studies and applied complicated statistical formulas.  As we have seen over the last few years, this system is flawed and studies on statins, cholesterol, calcium, and anti-depressants have proven to have feet of claw and the results have been erroneous in some cases.  This excludes the fact that some studies have been faked.  It is estimated that perhaps 50% of patients on hypertensive medication could be weaned off as blood pressure can reset itself.  I really can not imagine such a study being funded so people continue to take the medication which they may not need.

For the last couple of years, I have tried to interest organizations to carry out a double-blind study on Lithium.  It suffers from a number of problems preventing financial support.  There is a great deal of confusion between Lithium used for manic depression and in a totally different field the micro amounts of 1 mg per day, the recommended daily allowance (RDA) that we are talking that interests me.  Another negative factor in Lithium studies is that it has no patent, no profitability, is extremely cheap, and natural.  Having followed the academic literature for half of a century, I can think of very few other agents that have such a wide spectrum of scientific evidence of its uses but to nail its total acceptance there needs to be a double-blind study and there is no financing for this.

Years ago, I became extremely involved in the Glucosamine story and self-funded a study in Toronto which proved positive but poorly funding the study was not outstanding.  Money is the key ingredient for funding a study.

With the above in mind and the fact that I would only be taking half of the RDA of Lithium, I started taking 0.4 mg of Lithium in water per day.  Being unable to determine a blood Lithium level through the usual channels, I found a hair analysis that was accurate to my profile which showed my Lithium level to be way below the accepted normal value. Prior to starting Lithium  basic routine blood work was carried out including creatinine.

For the first 6 weeks of daily micro-Lithium I noticed no obvious change in memory, behavior, or any effect at all.  This was rather disappointing but in retrospect Lithium is a slow working agent in micro doses, working on a physiological level rather than a therapeutic level.

The first positive effect which surprised me was it stopped a short fuse reaction or minor anger.  Many things these days are very frustrating from the answering machine, to driving where red lights are run through.  As a physician, one has to bottle up our annoyance; I found on the dose of Lithium I was much more tranquil, less sensitive to irritation, and particularly to patients who do not appreciate the problems in health care.  This has made a very significant difference and has a number of positive sequelae.  Perhaps most interesting is a reduction in my blood pressure, needing far less medication.

I suppose we should put in the fact that I have no financial or conflict in promoting Lithium other than the good I think it does.  Also, this is not giving medical advice but an attempt to draw attention to Lithium.  The observations on anger and short fuse syndrome are supported by a number of studies from Texas to Japan to Lithuania.  Many problems today are due to a short fuse reaction whether it be driving, social relationships, or suicide.

I have one addiction other than work and that is chocolate, it gives me energy, sharpness, and satisfies a craving.  After a bar of chocolate eaten in 30 seconds my work level improves!  Sugar, caffeine, and cocoa! Since being on the daily routine of Lithium, I still enjoy chocolate but I don’t have the craving for excessive consumption.  These observations just appeared, I had no idea what I was looking for so it removes the bias.

Perhaps the most impressive action I have noticed is that of memory.  As one gets older, one’s memory becomes more difficult.  For years I have always had a problem with names, spelling, etc.  I have tried various techniques by keeping thoughts in compartments, house, or filing systems – a technique that was used by Roman lawyers.  All of my World War 1 and II hero’s names and histories are put into the downstairs room and drugs are put into another room etc. and this is a proven technique.  This helped but the matrix of this system fell apart and it would be a long time when I wanted to find a name or article for my memory to grind through a matrix that seemed to be declining.  Once a fact was found from the memory bank within a few hours it would be lost again, buried in what I visualize as a matrix of cells.  On Lithium, I seemed to have developed another matrix where when I have recalled a fact it stays in this new matrix like a new filing cabinet with easy access.  This fits it and this conclusion was made in retrospect with the idea that neurons regenerate and multiple especially in areas like the hippocampus.  In passing the only error I learnt that was erroneous was that the brain didn’t regenerate and your brain function was what you were born with and led to a steady decline as we aged.  We now know this is wrong, grey matter increases, cells can multiple, and new cells appear.

Before academics jump on this article, one should point out that most of the studies on Lithium in much higher doses in patients with Alzheimer’s Disease is in treating the plaque, tangles, etc. in short term studies and these grave stones are markers of past dysfunction, inflammation, etc. that took place perhaps a decade or more ago.  This error of short term Lithium against markers of chronic inflammation is like knocking down tombstones and expecting the corpse to rise. 

Lastly the effect on anxiety has made me less uptight or over-reactive but this hasn’t effected reactions while driving or playing sports.

Could this be a placebo reaction?  Unlikely after a latent period of two months.  We have one happy patient!

As in an earlier post, if Lithium is essential we have spent the last 50 years removing it from 7UP and our water supplies!

Lithium Deficiency

The media and the authorities are full of data on the increase in crime in many western countries, crime is often associated with extreme violence.  Documentation is important; however, little thought is given to the reasons.

Most Western countries are in a stable state, not at war, no extensive poverty, or obvious reasons for this increase. It is a vicious cycle as this increasing crime results in increased police hiring, etc. and so the cycle continues.  No one ever looks at the question why?

Certainly not a major cause, but an area that should be investigated is the question of Lithium deficiency in our water, food, even in tobacco.  There have been excellent studies have been carried out from Texas, Japan, and Lithuania that low intake of Lithium in areas with low Lithium in their water is associated with a whole spectrum of crimes ranging from drug addiction, rape, suicide etc.  Little thought seems to be given to these obviously sound statistical studies.

Why are we deficient in Lithium?  It is a good question to ask.  Is our intake of Lithium lowered from our water supply?  There is an increased tendency in many countries to abandon wells and use rivers, rainfall, etc.  These are obviously very deficient in minerals, particularly Lithium.  The increase in bottled water which contains no Lithium is another explanation especially since we seem to be developing an addiction to having water with us at all times.

Certainly, some attention should be focused on why we are deficient in Lithium and it would be very easy to carry out a survey of Lithium blood levels.  If the idea doesn’t pan out, it won’t have cost a fortune, harmed anyone but if the idea works it will have saved a lot of anguish, expense, and violence.

Selected Lithium Articles

Over the past few months, I have been researching and reading many articles on Lithium.  Here are 5 articles that I have found insightful along with my brief comments.


Standard and trace doses of Lithium: a systematic review of dementia prevention and other behavioral benefits.  Mauer S et al Australian & New Zealand Journal of Psychiatry 48(9):809 2014

Lithium in both standard and trace doses appears to have biological benefits for dementia, suicide, and other behavioural outcomes.  Further research of trace Lithium in dementia is warranted.

It is more than warranted it is urgent!  What more do you want?  It reduces antisocial and suicide rates, and appears to have a biological benefit for dementia.


Calcium dysregulation and lithium treatment to forestall Alzheimer’s disease – a merging of hypotheses. Wallace, J. Cellular Calcium 55(3):175 2014

This paper provides an interesting thought.  The hypothesis is that Lithium may protect against cognitive decline by stabilizing intracellular calcium through a dual synergistic mechanism of targeting both extracellular and intracellular sites by antagonizing NMDA receptors inhibiting IMP.

Would the long-time lag for development of dementia, perhaps 2 decades, and the phase of increased calcium consumption in the last 4 decades have an association?


Microdose lithium treatment stabilized cognitive impairment in patients with Alzheimer’s disease.  Nunes MA et al.  Current Alzheimer Research 10(1):104 2013

This data suggests the efficacy of a micro-dose Lithium treatment in preventing cognitive loss reinforcing the therapeutic potential to treat Alzheimer’s Disease using very low-doses.


Lithium and dementia: a preliminary study.  Terao T et al.  Progress in Neuro-Psychopharmacology & Biological Psychiatry 30(6):1125 2006.

“The findings provide partial evidence to support the contention that Lithium could offer hope as a preventive treatment for Alzheimer’s Disease.” 


Journal of Trace Elements in Medicine & Biology 24th March 2017 Lithium levels in the public drinking water supply and the risk of suicide by Liaugaudaite.

This article raises a number of interesting points.  The study was carried out in Lithuania and showed, like many others, that high levels of Lithium in public drinking water is associated with lower suicide rates in men but this effect was not noted in women. The article draws attention to the 800,000 annual deaths worldwide including approximately 60,00 in Europe.   One often forgets that suicide is not the death of one person but a terrible tragedy for the family, friends, etc. and this may last for years causing destruction of the family unit in some cases.  It is interesting that in many European countries the suicide rate is 2-4 times higher in men than in women.  We draw attention to the influence of impulsiveness contributing to suicide.  This short fuse syndrome (SFS) seems to be suppressed by micro Lithium in our limited experience.  Does 60,000 deaths in the EU warrant supplementation of Lithium in micro amounts found in normal drinking water?