Lithium consumption has frightening effects on the human body, such as kidney risk, thyroid risk, the risk of a number of side effects and the experience of mental numbness. But an ultra-low dose of a particular compound of lithium may be very effective in the treatment of varying manifestations of mental disorders and has been found to significantly improve mood (to varying degrees, depending on the study in question). In this article, we are going to look at what type of lithium has been tested and found to be beneficial and what dosage is generally recommended by alternative treatment practitioners.
Lithium against stress-induced depression
It is now established that people with bipolar disorder have hyperactivity in one of the body stress pathways called the HPA axis. This causes an increased production of the stress hormone cortisol, which directly leads to repeated inflammation and degradation of brain cells. The brain, however, naturally produces a protein called BNDF that naturally opposes this brain cell degradation, and lithium has been found to boost the production of BNDF. So, by a complex pathway, an increased availability of lithium in the brains of people with bipolar disorder will ultimately help them be more relaxed and manage stress better. Lithium can cause serious damage to other organs in the body, and so must only be taken in ultra-low doses.
Dendrites and dendritic spines are new branches grown by the brain. They are the connections over which synapses are passed. It is essential for the brain to be able to keep growing dendrites and dendritic spines to maintain optimal brain function. The ability of the brain to expand its network by growing new branches is called neuroplasticity. The combination of the long-term inflammation of the brain cells by increased cortisol production and insufficient production levels of BNDF in the brain results in shrinkage or outright loss of dendrites and therefore a loss of synapses.
And a loss of synapses in important brain structures that control mood and the emotional balance will contribute to the prevalence of bipolar disorder and recurrent depression. Patients with bipolar disorder are often found to have increased depression results as a result of increased stress levels. This can dangerously affect people with bipolar disorders, for instance, in a situation of heightened stress, like getting a new job, the heightened stress could lead to depression, which would eventually cause the individual to lose the job, and the cycle perpetuates itself.
Lithium against fat imbalance in the brain
People with bipolar disorders mismanage a specific fat in the brain which leads to inflammation and interferes with brain function. Bipolar brains release an excessive amount of the omega-6 fat called arachidonic acid, which in turn inflames the brain and causes a deficiency of the production of the omega-3 fat DHA, a substance that is anti-inflammatory. Our body produces some omega-6 acid from the oil found in nuts and flax seeds but we can also greatly increase the amount of omega-6 fats in our brain by the consumption of large amounts of red meat and pork. On the other hand, omega-3 DHA is produced in our bodies from hemp and Chia seeds, but only 1% of the DHA from these sources is produced. Therefore, for individuals with bipolar disorder, a diet of oily fish and fish oil supplements is recommended to boost the production of DHA. Lithium-based treatment (especially lithium orotate) has been found to counteract the inflammation caused by excessive arachidonicacide and deficient DHA in the bipolar brain, but the results depend very heavily on the nature of the individual’s diet.
People who consume a diet rich in arachidonic acid (red meat, pork, duck, chicken, eggs) and only a small amount of DHA (oily fish, fish oils, supplements) are giving the lithium a huge obstacle to overcome and may not experience the restorative effects of lithium orotate supplementation. A diet low in arachidonicacide and rich in DHA is one of the enabling chemical conditions that enable bipolar patients to realize effective therapeutic effects from a dosage of low-dose lithium orotate.
The dosage of lithium orotate that is typically administered for bipolar disorders is very low; generally 480 mgs of lithium orotate or higher.
Adding a low dose of aspirin can also help lithium orotate. Aspirin has been found to be effective in blocking the conversion of arachidonic acid to the inflammatory prostaglandin E2. This is significant because under normal conditions, in the bipolar brain, there is already an over-production of the inflammation-inducing arachdonic acid. There is also evidence from a study that finds that the addition of aspirin makes a lithium dose more effective at combating stress and depression in individuals with bipolar disorder.
Lithium and Suicide
Lithium is one of the few substances that specifically targets suicide. A study found that an introduction of an ultra-low dose of lithium into the drinking water of a city has seen a reduction in the number of suicides and attempted suicides. This calming effect of lithium (in small doses) is the foundation of its usefulness in fighting stress and stress-induced depression in mental health patients and persons with bipolar brains.
The information presented here is for educational purposes only and is in no way intended as a substitute for medical counselling.