Mood related problems such as bipolar disorders, depression, manic spells, hallucination, etc. are known to cause a severe drop in quality of life. If you are living with any of these mental conditions, you are likely to witness a sizable decrease in your productivity level. Of the many types of mood stabilizing drugs known to medical sciences, lithium is used for treating mental health conditions. This chemical enhances the activities of messenger cells of your brain. Supplements of this chemical are used for Alzheimer’s and a few forms of depression. It is an important thing to know the uses, side effects and precautions associated with the use of lithium.

Lithium derives its name from a Greek word that refers to “stone”. This substance is found in almost all forms of rocks. Supplements containing lithium find their use in managing substance abuse such as an excessive consumption of alcohol or other forms of intoxicants. Lithium citrate, lithium carbonate, etc. bear the clearance of the US based drug clearing agency, food and drug administration (FDA). In general, drugs based on lithium have a greater share of this it than lithium supplements.

Lithium supplements

Lithium is capable of absorbing big shocks your nervous system may get exposed to. It also has properties to treat impaired nerve cells i.e., neurons. Not stopping with repair of such cells, it plays a key role in regeneration of such impaired cells. Several studies indicate that it facilitates better communication in between your body and brain cells. In this milieu, this element is closely associated with the regulation of hormones and neurotransmitters such as adrenaline, serotonin, glutamate, dopamine as well as cortisol.

Use of lithium supplements for the treatment of bipolar disorders

Lithium remains one of the earliest substances to have the clearance of the FDA. Also, it is considered as an earliest treatment administered to treat bipolar conditions. These conditions are characterised by symptoms such as sleeplessness (accompanied by high energy levels), racy thoughts, bloated level of self-esteem, etc. In some cases, people living with such mental conditions may exhibit unique tendencies to talk incessantly, indulge in excessive shopping or make unsound decisions / illogical investments.

Lithium supplements for depressive spells

You may feel sad or may be nursing gloomy thoughts once in a while. This is considered as quite normal. However, if you are feeling down and negative most of the time, it can be due to a mental condition called depression. Lithium supplements are used for treating episodes of depression as well as mood swings. Studies show that depressive people cease to think of committing suicide and / or harming their own self upon being treated with lithium.

It may come as a surprise to know that people living in places with high level of lithium content (in water) had minimal suicidal instincts, drug abuse or violent thoughts. In essence, the greater the traces of this element, the smaller are the rates of suicide. In a ground-breaking study, people who took lithium supplements are less likely to be hospitalised for mental conditions (than those who took selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors or serotonin norepinephrine reuptake inhibiting meds as well as antidepressants).

Lithium supplements for attention deficit and hyperactivity disorders

Attention deficit hyperactivity conditions (also known as ADHD) are characterised by being stressed out most of the time, staying hot tempered or being disorganised. This condition may also show up as inability to complete tasks, restlessness, becoming more impulsive and being unable to plan for things ahead. If left untreated, it can give way to anxieties and gloominess. Lithium based supplements are commonly used for treating ADHD; the good thing is – it is not habit forming or addictive. Those who took lithium supplements experienced stability of mind, better control of thoughts and actions. On a related note, these supplements can regulate your sleep cycles and may thus calm your mind. A major benefit is – they can make you sleep better by inducing slow wave sleeping cycles. You need to know that slow wave portion of sleep is one of the deepest spells of your sleeping cycle.

Widely used lithium supplements

There are multiple forms of lithium supplements; these include lithium citrate, lithium carbonate, lithium aspartate, lithium orotate, etc. Lithium citrate is derived by binding citric acid with this element. Owing to its relatively low levels of absorption, the dosage value is maintained at a higher strength. This supplement is widely used for treating episodes of depression as well as bipolar conditions. On the other hand, lithium carbonate is obtained by bonding water and carbon with lithium. Like the citrate form, the carbonate supplement also has remarkably low capacity to be absorbed; this is a prime reason for administering larger doses of this derivative drug. Carbonate version is administered for the treatment of mood swings, suicidal thoughts as well as aggressive thoughts or actions.

There are a few other forms of this element – such as lithium aspartate and lithium orotate. Of these, lithium aspartate is made when the chemical is blended with aspartic acids. Contrary to the other forms of lithium, this version has a better percentage of absorption; as a result, its dosages are often taken at a very low level. Similar to the aspartate form, orotate version is developed by mixing with orotic acids. The absorption level of the orotate version is much better than the carbonate and citrate forms of lithium; due to this merit, it is taken in smaller dosage strengths.

Of these various supplements, lithium carbonate is administered more commonly than its counterparts. One aspect to stay mindful of is – the need to take a larger dose of either of these supplements is mainly due to their low absorption rates. Caveat: a more frequent use of the carbonate form does not necessarily mean that it is better than other forms of supplements! On the other hand, aspartate is known to overexcite your neurotransmitters; such excitement can lead to migraines, headaches, painful eyes and a few nerve related conditions. But, lithium orotate can cross the brain-blood barriers with relative ease and can reach the chemicals to your brain. So, even at a lower dose, your central nervous system and brain may have a sizable supply of lithium upon taking the orotate form of supplement.

Side effects of lithium supplements

An excessive intake of lithium supplements can lead to an overdosed condition. It hence becomes essential to take needful advice from your treating physician. The typical dose of lithium is in the range of 750 to 1000 milligrams (mg) each day. Instances of overdose can be triggered when you fail to take needful amounts of water along with the supplements or when you missed a dose and took a double dose.

It is possible to detect a likely overdose of lithium through a few characteristic signs; these include pain in lower abdomen, overall weakness, being tired during most part of the day, involuntary shaking of your body or tremors, abdominal conditions such as vomiting and /or diarrhea. The above are termed as moderate side effects and may go away once you reduce the intake of supplements. But, in some rare instances, severe signs like slurring of speech, being agitated, signs of kidney failure (altered output of urine), coma and fatal outcomes (death in some cases) have been witnessed. It however does not mean that taking supplements at lower dosage strengths is safe; medical research shows that intake of a lesser dosage strength may also trigger dehydration (showing up as drying of oral parts), formation of gas / flatulence or bloating, rashes on skin, inexplicable loss or gain of body weight, etc. In some remote cases, users have reported of staying restless, spells of indigestion or dyspepsia, weakness, etc.

Upon noticing any of these side effects, it is highly recommended to take needful medical support by dialling 911 on an emergency basis – if you are a resident of US. You may also reach out to the food and drug administration (FDA) in US; this federal drug approving agency runs its own helpdesk. Its helpdesk is capable of handling medical emergencies, undesired side effects as well as allergies among users of meds approved by this federal agency. On the other hand, lithium supplements users who live in a Canadian province are advised to seek immediate clinical support and care through a poison control center functioning closer to your home. As an alternative, Canadian residents may establish quick contact with Health Canada for needful care.

Last but not least, you also need to stay aware of a few foods and drugs that may react adversely with lithium supplements. For example, taking lesser level of salt can boost lithium levels. Similarly, consuming more amounts of caffeinated drinks can push lithium to a lower level. Also, those with drinking habits must talk to their caregiver of their medication plans. It is a good practice to minimise or completely stop taking alcohol all through your treatment plan.

In sum, lithium supplements are capable of handling stresses on your nervous system. Such supplements can repair damaged cells of your central nervous system and brain; also, they can aid in the regeneration of impaired neurons. These substances are linked to production and absorption of neuro-transmitting chemicals like serotonin, dopamine, etc. However, these supplements are not over the counter (OTC) products. If taken without proper medical supervision, some of them can lead to near-fatal or fatal results. Hence, it is highly recommended to take lithium supplements under the care of a qualified medical practitioner.

Leave a Reply