Lithium in ground water

Some of the brief notes on Lithium are based on small animal studies however the science of Lithium levels in drinking water and the risk of abhorrent behaviour, suicide, aggression, crime rates are supported by a number of studies ranging from Texas, Japan, Italy, and the United Kingdom.

My own impression over the last few decades is that idiopathic suicide rates are increasing with devastating effects on families and social networks.  The reactionary suicide often associated with underlying depression can be understood.  But the idiopathic suicide of young people in good health is extremely puzzling as is the increased violent behaviour and “short fuse” syndrome.

The scientific studies mentioned above show an inverse relationship between Lithium in ground water and thus in drinking water and the abhorrent behaviour.  A number of leading articles have suggested placing Lithium in minute quantities equivalent to what is found in the ground water of many countries into the drinking water in those countries where it is deficient.  I realize the outcry about the use of Fluoride and can not comment but we accept chlorination of water without concern as it helps protects lives and prevents infection.  If Lithium was added to city water supply where the content is zero, I wonder whether we would see a change in the “short fuse” syndrome, aggression, crime as suggested by reviews on the effect of ground water on behaviour.

I really can not see this happening with the violent social network reaction and hysteria but certainly the publication of guidelines might help in the re-supply of bottled water with small amounts of Lithium.  It was interesting to note that 100 years ago spring water with small amounts of Lithium were best sellers as it has a calming effect, up to 1946 Lithium was added to 7Up so that they could get on the Lithium bandwagon.  It seems we are in a state of scientific decline.

I have often wondered why a few friends frequented certain spas like Baden Baden.  Was it for the relaxation, the social life, or was it for the 8 mg of Lithium per litre of spa water?

As mentioned in a previous article, the Romans were obviously aware of the value of alkali springs (containing Lithium) and suggested that soldiers suffering from, a poor translation from the Latin, post-traumatic syndrome or exhaustion should partake of the alkali, lithium containing waters!



Born without a manual or do we have one and don’t use it?

Perhaps one of the great inventions has been the iPod especially for someone like myself who’s eyes get tired from reading.  The iPod is a true marvel but it was the first complex entity with the smallest manual ever seen.  Somehow young people seem to have an inherent knowledge on how to use modern technology, I’m certain that in a few decades people will have a new speciality dealing with thumb wear out.

The greatest miracle of all is that of mankind, top of the animal and plant kingdom.  When puzzled by an illness or disability and pressured by the patient, I often fall back on “well you didn’t come with a manual that I can refer to and we are still learning about the human body and disease”.  I have used this defence so often that I am beginning to wonder whether there is a manual but we have not learnt how to look for it.

The manual to the human body might be hidden in the periodic table.  In the evolution of life whether it be by evolution or divine origin nothing is wasted, everything is honed to efficiency.  Inside a body hundred of thousands of enzymes function under automatic control, very occasionally with a genetic abnormality the enzyme system fails producing rare metabolic disorders.

Coming back to the idea that nothing in this universe is without purpose, perhaps the Periodic table hold the key?  A number of elements we now know are essential to life and in increased doses to illnesses.  What about the other elements which are somewhat ignored?  Do they have a place in treating illnesses that we do not understand?  At random I selected a range of elements including Vanadium, Arsenic, Selenium, Yttrium, Lithium and Strontium.  I was truly amazed at the interesting actions on various enzyme systems and positive effects of Vanadium, Selenium, and Strontium – the latter I often forget.  Strontium ranelate is cleared for sale in a number of countries to deal with Osteoporosis and bone fractures.  I’m certain many physicians are rather frustrated by the present medications, increased calcium intake on the effect on Osteoporosis for a reasonable cost.

In summary, is the Periodic table the index of agents some of which may have great potential in medical use?  Nature does not waste its time producing elements for the sake of it. 

Everything has a purpose but we are not looking carefully enough!






Lithium may work for other conditions

 List of possible actions of Lithium

1.       Decrease in stress, suicidal rates, violence, stabilizes mood, improves depression

2.       Increases neurotropic factors

3.       Increase neurogenesis and cognitive function

4.       Neuroprotection

5.       Remodels the brain and heart

6.       Neuronal survival

7.       Decreases insulin resistance

8.       Reduces autoimmunity and inflammation

9.       Improves Circadian rhythm

10.   Increase longevity

11.   Increases bone density

The report card looks too good to be true but one should remember that Lithium is an essential element.  It is sold hopefully with a physician’s advice OTC or online in the USA.  This is in itself somewhat of a danger but when small doses are used the risk is not significant.

Having read the literature ranging from spas in Baden Baden to studies including the meta-analysis of Lithium in the slowing decline of cognitive decline in Alzheimer’s Disease (Matsunaga Journal of Alzheimer’s Disease 2015;48(2):403-10) it may truly be a miracle element.  The big question is with no patent of action, who is going to fund the studies for an agent which has been used medically for over 100 years and has the potential of solving many of the conditions which do not penetrate the intensity of an illness but can actually ruin one’s life.  As a physician one rarely sees a patient present with these pre-illness symptoms.  Many of the biochemical studies are not covered by insurance and the Lithium parameters seem to be geared to monitoring manic depressions.

Three or more faces of Lithium

I am putting my thoughts down in point form as the Alzheimer’s Disease (AD) literature is expanding so rapidly without a definite focus.

1.       I find it amazing that with all the amount of work that the problem of AD has not been resolved especially with our modern, scientific technologies from MRI to advanced biochemistry.  When this happens one wonders if you have missed a simple explanation but only time will tell.

2.       To read in the voluminous literature, albeit scanning at times, what seems to be missing is the epidemiology of AD to Lithium in the ground water and farming produce of that area. 

3.       A number of small studies ranging from the United Kingdom to Japan to USA have demonstrated that the suicide rate is decreased when the Lithium level in the drinking water is high.  It seems that the anti-suicide effect occurs with minute doses but one must consider the long period of exposure drinking the water allowing for the effect of micro-doses.  Some studies point to a reduced rate of anti-social behaviours – arrests, drug addictions, etc.

4.       The number of scholarly articles drawing attention to the decrease in AD in manic depressive patients treated with therapeutic doses of Lithium.  Bipolar disorders are associated with an increased risk of dementia.  It seems in patients treated with Lithium for Bipolar disorders have a reduced risk of AD.  With Lithium the incidence of AD in patients with Bipolar disorders was the same for the general population.  Some of the early biochemistry shows clearly that Lithium reduces GSK-3 (Glycogen synthase kinase 3) which is thought to be responsible for plaque formation.  The enzyme reduction is thought to be x50%.

a)       For manic depressives Lithium Sulfate 150-600 mg

b)      A number of studies have demonstrated that smaller doses of Lithium reduces the incidence of AD as maintenance therapy.

5.       The work of Nenes Alzheimer’s Research 2013 showed that micro-doses of Lithium 300 mcg has a significant effect in preventing AD.

6.       The comparison in ongoing effect and theoretical considerations between Boron and Lithium is highly significant ranging from GSK-3 reduction to an effect on inflammation (a partial cause of AD?). These elements are closely associated in the atomic table, both effective on GSK-3, related to spas Lithium is accepted as an essential element and Boron is 99% on its way to this acceptance.

7.       Following the line of association with Boron it is interesting that many of the Spas used in the past by the Romans etc. had Lithium.  Was the effect of feeling better, especially emotionally, due to Lithium in the spa water?  In the past century, bottled water containing Lithium was reported to have a beneficial effect on your psyche, as mentioned before 7UP contained Lithium up until 1946.  Today there are few high priced bottled waters containing Lithium.

8.       The question that still remains is why the increase in AD?  With better nutrition, healthcare, blood pressure control etc. why?  I wonder if this is related to our desire for filtered municipal water.  As in most countries Lithium is reduced by filtration or reverse osmosis. Projecting into the future, is this the cause of general unhappiness, depression, self-mutilation, and suicide that we see increasingly in a world that should certainly be “happier”.

9.       A number of animal studies have shown that animals fed very-low Lithium diets had a much higher mortality compared to those on a normal diet which is what one would expect as an essential element.

10.   A number of studies have shown that small doses of Lithium have a neuroprotective effect in animals especially after surgically induced strokes.

11.   It seems that low dose Lithium in animals stimulated neurons, neuronal size, and connections, similar to the increase in grey matter in humans receiving Lithium therapeutically for Bipolar Disorders.

12.   Like a jigsaw puzzle, the consumption of bottled water often produced by reverse osmosis removing all essential micro-nutrients, running into billions of bottles per year would aggravate an already deficiency of Lithium due to filtration of the city’s water.  How harmful is bottled water?  As mentioned above regarding the inhibition of thirst as a normal human symptom.  The long-term consumption of drinking water with low Lithium has been suggested as a risk factor for a higher incidence of suicide and crime in a number of countries.  The relationship of dysfunctional behaviour is closely associated with the concentration of Lithium ranging from suicide to robberies.  Does this deficiency over the years result in Alzheimer’s Disease?


What is missing?

·         Epidemiological evaluation of AD related to Lithium in food and water supplies in different areas

·         A large double-blind study of medium and micro-doses of Lithium

·         Funding of this study is long overdue

·         It has been suggested by a number of articles that Lithium be re-added to the water supply after filtration.  Lithium may be a truly essential mineral and this would be an inexpensive and safe way for preventing and treating the progression of AD.

Never has such a different problem had the potential of being solved by such a simple solution!


Alzheimer’s Disease

I am not an expert by any means in Alzheimer’s Disease (AD) and this is not a direction for treatment but a cry for a large double-blind study to see whether micro doses of Lithium statistically improve or prevent AD.  Lithium is like Glucosamine and Boron which I have had a great deal of experience with, no patent, no large studies, societies not interested in funding such studies thus we must wait for multinational drug companies to develop a treatment.  So far, to our disappointment none have shown to be effective.  This may be an overshot syndrome, looking for a complex molecule for a simple problem.  This is not unusual as I have had great trouble with the investigation of Glucosamine and Boron – again a lack of funding and societies do not seem to be willing to fund studies.

  1. Alzheimer’s as we are all aware is a terrible illness, robbing people of their golden years and their family suffers for many years as there is little they can do. With escalating numbers the financial and medical load on healthcare delivery is going to become crippling.  One in three seniors dies with AD or dementia. Every 60 seconds someone in the United States develops AD.
  2. At the time of writing we do not have a preventive or treatment medication, interestingly a number of compounds of an organic nature with Boron in them are being reviewed but this is still a long way off.
  3. Once must ask the question, why this epidemic has appeared and is increasing? Dating back to late 1950’s with my medical knowledge and experience as a honourary neurologist in a neurology ward for one year, there was dementia usually of an arterial insufficiency nature but what would then be called idiopathic dementia was certainly rare.
  4. This statement appeared by chance in my line of thought. Most of us are taught that Lithium salt in large doses was used for manic depression based on the work in 1949 by John Cade in Australia but there are two faces of Lithium.  One forgets that Lithium was a normal constituent of drinking water until 1946, found in various forms of natural water.  An interesting fact is that 7-UP contained Lithium until 1946 and was known as Lithiated Lemon Soda.  After problems with large doses of Lithium and bipolar disorders it was removed from 7-UP. Was this a shame?
  5. A conclusion comes from many sources, the work by Newnham was based on observation, treatment and epidemiology. In the same vein a number of good studies show that in areas where the drinking water contained more Lithium there were less serious crimes committed and lower suicide rates.  This has been a pattern over a number of countries from Japan and Texas.  In summary, the above results suggest that Lithium in low doses has a general beneficial effect of human behaviour.  The question arises with the increase in puzzling illnesses from Autism to Alzheimer’s Disease etc. could this be related to the removal of Lithium from the water?  An interesting thought if not the answer!
  6. In an earlier post, we talked about GSK-3 being responsible for plaque production and the inhibition of this enzyme by Lithium and Boron. The paper by Mendes 2009 again draws attention to GSK-3 in Alzheimer’s and the expression of the enzyme being higher and perhaps associated with increased plaque formation.  Lithium concentrations 100% lower than used previously down regulates mRNA expression of GSK-3.  The effect is seen specifically in the hippocampus which is crucial in AIDS, this means that a dose of Lithium could be taken that would inhibit AD without toxicity.
  7. A number of small studies have shown positive effect in prevention and the slowing of AD but without significant funding these studies are small and will not sway medical opinion or in some cases “see the light of day”.
  8. I think the above comments alone warrant an investigation with a large study perhaps funded by the government which would be a good investment for society or by a philanthropist.
  9. It is a strange world in researching ideas that seem novel to us, perhaps they are not such novelties.
  10. Following the idea that patients with gout have less incidence of AD, perhaps uric acid is a preventive. I have reviewed the work of Sir Alfred Baring Garrod.  His main claim to fame is his discovery of increased uric acid in the blood of patients with gout and was the first to propose Lithium to remedy this disorder in 1848. He recommended Lithium as a treatment for mental illness and hypothesized that gout could be a cause of mood disorders such as mania and depression. It was interesting that he described the condition which is still to be reviewed by the writer of “brain gout”.  In passing I can not miss the plug that I actually worked on the ward named after Garrod in St. Bart’s Hospital.
  11. Following on the above observation by Garrod and Lithium, there are a number of studies investigating decreased uric acid levels in patients with AD and that uric acid may act as an inhibitor of the enzyme cascade.

I hope the above points initiates some alternative thought on this subject.  Certainly, the effect of Lithium on modifying GSK-3 levels (an accepted cause of plaque) fits in with modern medicine and would be an inexpensive treatment.  As mentioned above it has been found in ground water and has many beneficial effects on mood, suicide rates.  It was originally an ingredient in 7-UP until 1946.

A long shot is the work of Garrod on Lithium, uric acid, and gouty brains along with the recent papers which suggest that uric acid may have an effect on AD.

At present, many of the points made above are totally ignored although based on solid science.  As I have mentioned many times – no patent, no study, no profit!

Lithium and Alzheimer’s Disease

One of the values of social media is the fact that it is not gagged.  Over the past, we have had papers rejected as our views did not fit in with the accepted norm.  This bias is destructive to ongoing science.  Particularly in the free journals that gain their support and rationale for survival from advertising patented drugs, this is extremely common.  Many years ago, I wrote on the use of Glucosamine which was a little known agent.  The set up was a whole page and a few days before the late editor phoned me to say they were pulling it for obvious reasons.  Luckily, the paper was published and it did help promote Glucosamine in the use of Arthritis and many other illnesses which have never been fully investigated.

From the previous articles on Boron and particularly the possibility of its anti-inflammatory action might help Alzheimer’s Disease (AD) with the suppression of GSK-3, I became more interested in Alzheimer’s.  Not only is it a challenging and devastating illness which robs many people of the enjoyment of their later years in life.  The personal agony and the effect on families to see a loved one drift slowly to “brain death” while still being physically alive is devastating.

Playing every possible angle to get true unbiased attention, it is interesting to note that more than 5 million American’s are living with AD, 1 in 3 seniors die of AD, and the cost to health care and families providing support is vast.  Every year the numbers of AD increases, it is  a chronic disease with only downward progression for 8-10 years before a release with death.  Some cases of AD live as long as 20 years.

With all our modern technology we do not seem to have a preventive, curable, or moderating therapeutic regimen.  A number of studies by Big Pharma have proven ineffective after spending tens of millions of dollars.  AD is not a new illness but increasing and more devastating than in the past.

I can’t say that I live in a sheltered environment but I have been out of the mainstream of Alzheimer’s Disease.  The first question we must ask is “Why has this disease been so resistant to treatment?”  The main focus of research has been on patentable drug therapy which has not proven effective.  I reflected back over epidemics in the past like polio.  Having grown up and witnessed the horrors of Poliomyelitis in the 1950’s with many deaths in advanced countries.  Having as a student seeing people confined to iron lungs for the rest of their lives has left a deep scar on my psyche and we should be thankful that we can breathe and walk.  What is interesting is that the support for research for a vaccine was not from a pharmaceutical company but by research paid for by the March of Dimes.  Jonas Salk never applied for a patent on the vaccine.  In passing, it is a shame that this is not taught in older grades in school as we have advanced so far in many aspects but not all.

This may seem like a long introduction but it is to position the use of non-patentable lithium.  Lithium has been used medically and therapeutically for centuries, initially from springs.  It was thought to be a tonic for many ailments.  In passing, it is interesting to note that 7-UP, the soft drink, until the mid 1940’s contained lithium and the number 7 most likely suggested the atomic number for Lithium.  An interesting fact in what is a truly fascinating story on Lithium was the comment in 1847 by Professor Garrod, who used Lithium for gout and also for what he described as “brain gout”.  This is a subject that I need to follow up with as there is an association with the reduction of Alzheimer’s Disease in patients with gout.  It seems that uric acid has a positive effect on the biochemistry of AD.  I can’t say that I knew Garrod but we had a large professioral ward named after the great man at Bart’s Hospital.

As mentioned above, Lithium was used as a tonic in bottled water and some is still available.  Lithium established a position in therapeutic dosages in the treatment of some psychiatric illness like manic depression.  There are a number of  scientific papers, often of a small number of patients, indicating that Lithium may help prevent, ameliorate, and treat AD.  The majority of the papers are positive but not of a large sample size of double blind cases.  One must ask where the funding is coming from?  In investigating this I noticed many societies aimed at supporting Alzheimer’s research however funding for large double-blind studies like those done by the March of Dimes for polio is not forthcoming.  Small studies will not convince the health authorities particularly the FDA that Lithium may be the answer to a crippling illness.  Some cases have a genetic predisposition but the majority do not.  As a random thought I should point out that Lithium has been removed from drinking water since the 1940’s.

In the previous comments with Boron and Lithium, a long term treatment of the doses used for manic depression may cause concern.  This means that the traditional high doses are not likely to practical for use in prevention.  The recent work by Mendes et al shows that in concentrations of 100 and lower Lithium can significantly down regulate the MmRNA expression of GSK-3.  In other words instead of directly inhibiting the enzyme its level of production is reduced.  This effect is specifically seen in the hippocampus which is of importance in the development of AD.  So, this might mean that high nutritional doses of Lithium, perhaps 10-20 milligrams per day should be well tolerated and have a place in the prevention, treatment, and reversal of AD.

It is important to look around and see other supported evidence for the use of Lithium, test tubes, labs, studies do not make a perfect treatment.  There is a considerable amount of work from Japan, United States, and Europe that demonstrate high nutritional Lithium in drinking water decreases the risk of violence and suicide.  These epidemiological studies are unbiased and should point to the acceptance of Lithium.

This subject is crying out for a large double-blind study under independent authorities to evaluate to high standards the use of nutritional Lithium.  Whatever degree of study one can envision it is nothing compared to the avalanche of Alzheimer’s patients needing healthcare.

I still have sad thoughts regarding the first patient I saw in an iron lung – it was a young woman with beautiful eyes, who had been in this life saving machine for 10 years with only one instance of being out of the iron lung to attend a play for 1.5 hours.  Although she did not complain, her life was pure torment.  All the things we take for granted – caring for ourselves, walking, breathing, sex, family, continuity of genes was not available to her.   We owe all of this to the March of Dimes and Jonas Salk!

One should forget and it is difficult but focus on an independent, large study.  There are enough societies around the world who could easily raise the money although in the past I have often wondered whether their focus is correct.  The thought, like the girl in the iron lung, of gradually losing contact with family, reality, control of personal hygiene, bowels and bladder, and all your hard work disappearing should stimulate funding.

The answer, I believe, is in the use of Lithium, the studies show promise but are small, scattered, and of short duration.

The economic mountain that is just about to crash on our health care system maybe aborted by funding for a double-blind study.  This reflects terribly on our society where everything is focused on diagnosis and treatment but very little on preventive nutritional medicine.

Although it was over 150 years ago, Garrod’s observation regarding gout and brain dysfunction might be true especially since patients with gout have less frequency of Alzheimer’s disease.  This, one could argue, is a genetic balance of good and bad genes but it could be that uric acid crystals effect the progression of AD.

I find myself, from my extensive reading of this subject, rather depressed by the politics of Lithium.  It is interesting literature to read from a scientific point of view, there are many pointers to Lithium.  Even the New York Times ran a lengthy article on having Lithium in our drinking water and other papers have published similar articles.  Why do we not listen?  I have learnt a lot following the pathway of Lithium and AD, I feel we are not blind, the literature is there, the economics are there, but no one seems able to mobilize the forces for such a study.

Perhaps, President Donald Trump will persuade the government to pass a bill that studies into natural agents, such as Lithium, Boron, Niacinamide, will receive a large tax credit for the study.

No patent, no profit, with a legislative bill for a large tax rebate, this might stimulate the big drug companies to investigate natural agents and non-patentable agents. This would only be a small portion of the overwhelming burden of Alzheimer’s disease.

I appreciate the help given to me by Mark McCarty and others.  In addition, Google, supplies many references to the work of Professor Garrod.

Perhaps this is a perfect planet, perhaps we have everything we need, we just have to look without looking only for profit.