For most people, perhaps better than 99%, their impression of lithium is that of a powerful drug used to treat bipolar disorder. In reality, Lithium isn’t a drug. It’s a mineral, part of the same “family” of minerals that includes sodium and potassium. And in case you didn’t know, in the 1930s and 40s, lithium chloride was sold in stores as a “salt substitute”. Only when administered in huge doses, 500 to 2000mg, does lithium have the possible devastating side effects seen in some bipolar patients. Pioneering Alternative Physician, Dr Jonathan Wright calls Lithium “The Misunderstood Mineral”. Read more
However, research over the past forty years has associated supplemental low-dose lithium, 5 to 10mg per day, with enormous potential for protecting and improving brain health. The most current research is showing that lithium literally means more brain power. In a multi-institutional study published in the prestigious medical journal Lancet, researchers using MRI imagery found that low-dose lithium supplementation actually increases the number of brain cells in older individuals. This was confirmed in subsequent NIH studies that showed lithium has the ability to stimulate bio-chemical processes which promote the growth of new nerve cells.
Epidemiological reviews using ten years of accumulated data from 27 Texas counties, researchers found that the incidence of homicide, rape, and suicide were significantly higher in counties whose drinking water supplies contained little or no lithium, compared with counties whose drinking water contained 70-170 micrograms per liter.
Researchers are finding that lithium may slow the progression of Alzheimer’s, Parkinson’s and other forms of dementia. A new patent medication has recently been “approved” in Europe for the treatment of Alzheimer’s disease. It’s said to work by protecting brain cells against damage by a major “excitotoxin,” glutamate. Protection against glutamate-induced nerve cell damage is one of the now well-known actions of lithium!
There are many other “basic science” research findings that suggest very strongly that lithium will both protect against potential Alzheimer’s disease and slow the progression of existing cases. Beta-amyloid peptide is a “signature protein” involved in Alzheimer’s disease: the more beta-amyloid protein, the worse the disease becomes. Researchers have reported that lithium inhibits beta-amyloid secretion, and also prevents damage caused by beta-amyloid protein once it’s been formed.
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