Lithium Orotate: Once Used In 7up Now Treats Bipolar Disorder

A lithium orotate beverage was marketed as “lithiated lemon soda” in the mid 1900s, apparently to make it seem healthier but eventually it was stated as poisonous and the FDA had to get involved.

Since the official FDA approved pharmaceutical-dose, lithium, the mineral has proved to be one of the most versatile and successful drugs in psychiatry for patients with bipolar disorder, depression, suicide prevention, restlessness, irritability, and anger.

What is Lithium Orotate?

Over-the-counter lithium orotate is a health supplement for use as a low-dose source of lithium. 

It is used in treatments for a mental disease such as bipolar disorder, to regrow brain cells, bipolar disorder, anxiety from PTSD, alcoholism, addiction disorders, OCD, Suicide prevention, mood stabilization and ADD.

In the alternative and integrative medical community, lithium orotate has been used for prevention and treatment for a variety of mental health conditions. For over a century, doctors have seen merit in using lithium (not lithium orotate) for mental conditions. However, its use diminished due to side effects that concerned the FDA. In the last forty years, integrative medicine has become more relevant, and the use of minerals, amino acids, and vitamins have been part of the western medicine world.

Lithium Orotate vs Lithium Carbonate

Lithium orotate is a mineral, not a drug. Lithium carbonate is the pharmaceutical version that a doctor would prescribe. The orotate version is a mineral and white powder sold OTC in capsule form. It contains lithium which protects brain cells, the blood-brain barrier and can regrow brain cells.

It has many other uses in the brain and body. It is an alkali metal and orotic acid. The orotic acid naturally produced by our bodies in the intestines and is sometimes called vitamin B 13.  B 13 is not an actual B vitamin; it is just referred to as one. Hence, lithium orotate is sold as a dietary supplement.

Psychiatry doctors use this as an alternative medicine treatment used instead of prescription lithium.  They have used it to prevent episodes of mania in people with bipolar disorder. As a mood stabilizer, lithium orotate can help with anger, depression and PTSD. 

A variety of other kinds of medical conditions can benefit from lithium orotate. The dosing varies on the medical conditions a patient may suffer from. In high levels, the mineral can be toxic and affect heart and kidney patients. Lithium orotate is a lithium salt of pyrimidinecarboxylic acid combined with  lithium. In this form it is said to be more utilizable than lithium carbonate. 

Benefits of Lithium Orotate

The use of the mineral has expanded to beyond mental health. It can help uric acid levels be lowered in patients with gout and help with skin rashes and other biologic disorders. At a low dose, it can supplement patients with bipolar disorder treatment.

It was once believed that scientists and clinicians held fast to the idea that a fixed genetic code was hardwired in humans at conception, and that mutations were a sure predictor of disease. However, it is now known that environmental factors have a profound influence on how genes are expressed. 

The study of epigenetics has revealed that lifestyle factors, including physical activity, learning, stress exposure, and pharmacological compounds, can essentially switch genes on or off. 

The mineral lithium is a powerful epigenetic factor. Key epigenetic mechanisms include histone modifications and changes in DNA methylation. It has been shown to influence the expression of over 50 different genes and supports a wide range of neuroprotective and neurotrophic actions that literally change brain physiology.

Alcoholism

42 alcoholic patients (9 females and 33 males) were treated with lithium orotate at an alcohol rehabilitation program for at least six months. At a private clinic, they were part of a total number of 105 patients who received this treatment initially, while the remainder discontinued the treatment within six months. The data were collected from a private practice record and the follow-up varied between six months and 10 years. The 42 patients studied displayed a multitude of complaints in addition to chronic alcoholism. These included liver dysfunction, seizure disorders, headaches, hyperthyroidism, affective disorders. Meniere’s syndrome, liver and lung cancers. Thirty-six of the 42 patients studied had been hospitalized at least once for the management of their alcoholism.

Lithium orotate was given daily in 150 mg along with a diet low in simple carbohydrates and containing moderate amounts of protein and fat. In addition, magnesium orotate, bromelaine, calcium orotate (for hepatic involvement) and essential phospholipids (for cardiac problems).

Lithium orotate was proved beneficial as the main pharmacologic agent for the treatment of alcoholism. Ten of the patients had no relapse for over three and up to 10 years, 13 patients remained without relapse for 1 to 3 years, and the remaining 12 had relapses between 6 to 12 months. Lithium orotate therapy was safe and the adverse side effects were minor with only eight patients that developed muscle weakness, loss of appetite or mild apathy. For these patients, the symptoms subsided when the daily dose was given 4 to 5 times weekly.

Bipolar Disorder, Anxiety from PTSD

Patients with bipolar disorder use lithium orotate to improve symptoms. The acid in lithium orotate can help increase absorption of prescription lithium carbonate. It can also help decrease the prescription version.

There isn’t much scientific material showing the orotate used solely for bipolar as a replacement to regular lithium. It can also benefit those who have severe anxiety from PTSD and can help as a mood stabilizer for panic attacks.

Alcoholism, Addiction Disorders, OCD, Obsessive Disorders

In the mid-80s an alcohol study was done and found that daily treatment assisted alcoholics in their journey to quit drinking. The benefit of helping other addictive behavioral conditions is there. Those who suffer from OCD and obsessive disorders can benefit from it. The mineral can help cope during the rehabilitation process besides using counseling therapy.

Suicide Prevention, Mood Stabilization

The mineral can help with people suffering from depression and clinical depression. The effectiveness in prevention of suicide also is a benefit for sufferers. They place many people on antidepressants however the prescriptions have severe side effects. They can cause a person to be more restless, irritable, violent, angry and impulsive.

This is where lithium orotate comes in. There are no severe side effects of lithium orotate known. This is only at toxic levels. This could be a better alternative for mood stabilization and suicide risk patients. It is a valued mood stabilizer for this kind of anxiety.

Neurological conditions, ADD, ADHD

There is literature that supports the use of lithium orotate in a variety of neurological conditions. These conditions include Alzheimer’s and dementia patients, ADD and ADHD, and violent and aggressive behaviors.

Studies have determined that giving lithium to dementia patients can help with behavioral and biologic issues, for example, it has a positive impact for Alzheimer’s-dementia patients as well. It has proven to keep neurons alive in animals and humans.  It has shown this in several studies. Improved focus can help ADD patients. Those who have ADHD can also be stabilized.

Side Effects

In high levels, the supplement can be toxic.  Always discuss options with your medical doctor the benefits versus the risks before using it as a supplement. Long-term side effects of lithium orotate are unknown however there is a benefit to the short-term. The mineral shouldn’t be used if you are breastfeeding or have a serious cardiovascular disease.

You shouldn’t take it if you take diuretics or ACE inhibitors; have sodium depletion issues or renal failure. If you are already on an antidepressant, talk to your doctor. Some combinations can be dangerous. Sometimes doctors use the orotate kind with other medications. This all depends on your mental conditions and diagnosis. These main risks are below: 

  • Pregnancy and breast-feeding
  • Heart disease
  • Kidney disease
  • Surgery
  • Thyroid disease

Lithium increases a brain chemical called serotonin. Certain medications for depression also increase the brain chemical serotonin. Therefore adding lithium along with these medications for depression could increase serotonin too much and cause serious side effects including anxiety, heart problems and shivering. Do not take lithium if you are taking medications for depression.

Some of these medications for depression include fluoxetine(Prozac), amitriptyline (Elavil), paroxetine (Paxil), clomipramine (Anafranil), sertraline (Zoloft),  imipramine (Tofranil), and others.

History

Lithium has been documented with curative properties in Greek literature for centuries, while visits to natural lithium-enriched waters were reportedly undertaken by Mark Twain, Grover Cleveland, and Theodore Roosevelt, among others, in the 19th century. A lithium citrate beverage was marketed as “lithiated lemon soda” in the mid 1900s, apparently to make it seem healthier but eventually it was stated as poisonous and the FDA had to get involved. Did you also know that lithium has been associated with longevity in Japanese literature, and historically was considered beneficial in treating hepatitis.

Interestingly, lithium was given its official name by a Swedish chemist named Johan August Arfvedson. In 1817, he isolated the element while studying petalite which is a rich mineral deposit found in soils of the remote island of Uto. This new and unique substance was named lithium after the Greek word lithos, meaning literally “from stone.”

Officially, lithium was first medically documented by London doctor Alfred Baring Garrod, who used it after discovering uric acid in the blood of his patients with gout. He documented the pioneering use of lithium in his 1859 treatise, The Nature and Treatment of Gout and Rheumatic Gout. Between the 1850s and 1890s uric acid was viewed as a critical factor in many diseases. In 1907, The Merck Index listed 43 different medicinal preparations containing lithium. 

A psychiatrist Dr. John Cade first experimented with high doses of lithium citrate and lithium carbonate as a treatment for manic depressive illness in 1949. First observed on animals and then in human trials for lithium to stabilize mood, restored memory, and improved cognitive function, even in his most challenging subjects. 

Unfortunately, in1940s and 1950s, physicians kept released reports of patients who developed lithium poisoning after they had used large, uncontrolled amounts of Westsal. Several deaths were reported which lead the FDA to ban the use of lithium salt substitutes. “Stop using this dangerous poisoning at once!” exhorted the FDA. By the end of the decade, the research from other countries became so compelling that a “lithium underground” had formed of US physicians prescribing lithium in the absence of official FDA approval. Finally, the FDA sanctioned lithium in 1970 as a new investigational drug for acute mania. 

Since the official FDA approved pharmaceutical-dose lithium, the mineral has proved to be one of the most versatile and successful drugs in psychiatry for patients with bipolar disorder, mania and depression, suicide prevention, symptoms of agitation, restlessness, irritability, and anger that can lead to impulsivity and aggression. But lithium has specific effects against suicide that are independent of mood stabilization. Substantial literature also exists to support the use of lithium in a broad spectrum of other neurological conditions including substance abuse, violent and aggressive behavior, ADHD, and cognitive decline.    

Pop culture

7 up

A soft drink entrepreneur Charles Leiper Grigg found something special about lithium. So, he unveiled a drink called Bib-Label Lithiated Lemon-Lime Soda with the slogan “It takes the ouch out of the grouch.” 

In 1929 it was hailed for improving mood and curing hangovers, this product was eventually rechristened 7 Up. The “7” was meant to represent the atomic weight of the element lithium (6.9), and the “Up” suggests its power to lift spirits up!  Lithium was an ingredient of 7 Up until 1950.

Jamie Lowe

In the New York Times “I Don’t Believe in God, but I Believe in Lithium,” Jamie Lowe delivered a powerful testimony of her dramatic response to lithium. It was meant to be the drug that alleviated her mania and allowed her to live a normal, happy life. 

The author also describes the kidney damage that has forced her to stop lithium and placed her on a waiting list for potential kidney transplant. She provides a unique insight into the life-changing prescriptive benefits of lithium, and the overwhelming fear she has of life without her lithium; a life without her sanity. The realm of brain psychology still has tons to mine out of the world’s oldest mineral stone turned medicine. 

FAQ

Is Lithium Orotate good for depression?

Lithium orotate demonstrated benefits in treating alcoholism, improvements in migraines and improve depression associated with bipolar disorder.

What is lithium orotate good for?

Lithium orotate treats alcoholism and migraines, reduce stress and pain, and improve memory.

How long does it take for lithium orotate to work?

Several weeks.

Your doctor will order blood tests during your treatment. This is because lithium can affect how well your kidney or thyroid work and because it works best if the amount of the drug in your body is kept at a constant level.

How long does it take before lithium starts working for bipolar disorder?

Generally, it takes several weeks for lithium to work. Your doctor will order blood tests during your treatment. This is because lithium can affect how well your kidney or thyroid work and because it works best if the amount of the drug in your body is kept at a constant level.

Is Lithium Orotate the same as lithium carbonate?

Lithium orotate only contains 3.83 mg of lithium per 100 mg of the salt which is significantly lower than in lithium carbonate. Also, lithium orotate is a mineral, not a drug. Lithium carbonate is the pharmaceutical version that a doctor would prescribe. The orotate version is a mineral and white powder sold OTC in capsule form. It contains lithium which protects brain cells, the blood-brain barrier and can regrow brain cells.

It has many other uses in the brain and body. It is an alkali metal and orotic acid. The orotic acid naturally produced by our bodies in the intestines and is sometimes called vitamin B 13.  B 13 is not an actual B vitamin; it is just referred to as one. Hence, lithium orotate is sold as a dietary supplement.

Psychiatry doctors use this as an alternative medicine treatment used instead of prescription lithium. They have used it to prevent episodes of mania in people with bipolar disorder.  The mood stabilizing effects of lithium orotate can help with anger, depression, PTSD and other disorders with similar symptoms.

A variety of other kinds of medical conditions can benefit from lithium orotate. The dosing varies on the medical conditions a patient may suffer from. In high levels, the mineral can be toxic and affect heart and kidney patients. Lithium orotate is a lithium salt of pyrimidinecarboxylic acid combined with  lithium. In this form it is said to be more utilizable than lithium carbonate. 

What other names is Lithium known by?

It is also known by Lithium Citrate, Atomic number 3, Carbonate de Lithium, Citrate de Lithium, Li, Lithium Carbonate,  Lithium Orotate, Litio, Numéro Atomique 3, Orotate de Lithium.

Is Lithium Orotate FDA approved?

While lithium orotate is capable of providing lithium to the body, like lithium carbonate and other lithium salts, there are no systematic reviews supporting the efficacy of lithium orotate and it is not approved by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) for the treatment of any medical condition.

Does lithium orotate increase serotonin?

Lithium increases a chemical in the brain. This chemical is called serotonin. Some medications used for depression also increase serotonin.

As lithium might interfere with surgical procedures that often involve anesthesia and other drugs that affect the central nervous system. Lithium use should be stopped, with the approval of a healthcare provider, at least two weeks before a scheduled surgery.

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