Most people think of it as a damaging heavy-duty drug for mentally ill patients. Something to keep well clear of.
And yet Irish consultant psychiatrist Dr Moosajee Bhamjee said this mineral’s mental health benefits were so great it should be added to drinking water.
Can it be both hazardous and healthy?
The answer is yes, but not at the same time. Fortunately, we can enjoy the benefits without worrying about negative side effects.
The substance in question is lithium.
Wrong Impression Created on Purpose?
It’s an adage that goes back to Paracelsus, the founder of toxicology in the 16th century: the dose makes the poison.
For instance, water is essential for life, but – odd as it sounds – if you drink too much it will kill you, and that’s actually happened to a few people.
Of course, drugs and nutrients are in a different league. Everybody knows that dosage is all-important. And yet when it comes to lithium, the question of “how much” is either ignored or rejected.
Full-time lithium researcher and former chiropractor Dr. Mark Millar – who overcame bipolar disorder by taking low-dose lithium – is convinced this situation has not come about by accident.
He believes both the leaders of the psychiatric profession and big pharma have conspired to create the false impression that, to be effective, lithium must be used in doses that are close to toxic.
He claims they have lied “with malevolent intent” to control what doctors and the public believe. Research supports lithium as safe and effective at low doses, he says.
I don’t know if there’s a conspiracy to mislead us, but I do know that lithium is an indispensable nutrient found in food and water.
An Essential Trace Element
Harvard-trained psychiatrist Emily Deans, M.D., said, “Shocking but true – lithium is an essential trace element…Now to put things into perspective, a high lithium water content translates to about 2 mg of lithium a day. Psychiatric doses start at 300mg daily.”
Dr. Mark Hyman, a best-selling author and Medical Director at Cleveland Clinic’s Center for Functional Medicine, agrees: “Lithium is an essential micronutrient…It is present in all organs and tissues in the body. It has similar chemical properties to that of calcium and magnesium.”
According to Dr. Millar, lithium is “perhaps the most critically essential trace mineral for optimal mental, emotional and neurological health.”
Found in small amounts in legumes, grains, eggs, dairy foods, meat, fish and shellfish, and to widely varying degrees in the water supply, lithium should be thought of in the same way as any other nutrient.
Lithium Reduces Mental Illness and Extends Life
Dr. Bhamjee’s suggestion that lithium be added to the water supply was based on a number of studies.
Research from Texas revealed those areas with good levels in drinking water had less suicide, violence, crime and mental illness compared to low level areas.
It was the same story in Greece. Less suicide, homicide, rape, and drug abuse when higher levels of lithium occur naturally in the water.
Research from Japan and Austria demonstrate lower suicide rates in high lithium water areas.
There’s significant evidence that lithium also inhibits crucial disease processes that occur in Alzheimer’s.
In one study, a dose of less than a third of a milligram (300 micrograms) per day over 15 months stabilized cognitive decline in Alzheimer’s patients. There’s not enough evidence yet to call lithium an Alzheimer’s treatment – and of course no significant research dollars are being devoted to finding out more – but I take it myself, based on the evidence I’ve seen.
A review published in August 2016 reported growing evidence that lithium protects against many different types of neurotoxins and increases grey matter volume in multiple brain regions. They suggest it might maintain brain health and protect against neurodegenerative disorders.
Their optimism was borne out in a huge population study from Japan involving nearly 1¼ million people. The researchers found the more lithium in the drinking water, the lower the death rate from any cause. They concluded that “these findings indicate that long-term low-dose exposure to lithium may exert anti-aging capabilities.”
The late Dr.Gerhard N. Schrauzer from the University of California wrote back in 2002 that lithium was an essential nutrient. He suggested a minimum daily requirement (MDR) for healthy adults of 1mg per day.
If Dr. Millar’s conspiracy theory is correct, there is zero chance of lithium ever gaining MDR or recommended daily amount status. If so, the public will continue with the false perception of lithium as a dangerous drug, instead of the essential and beneficial micronutrient that it really is.
I’ll confess to having a dog in this fight. Green Valley Natural Solutions offers a supplement called Brain Essentials: Lithium Orotate. The 50 mg of lithium orotate in each tablet contains 4.5 mg of elemental lithium. If it was unsafe I’d be six feet under now myself, and I’m still here. . .