by Lawrence Wilson, MD
© August 2013, The Center For Development
Lithium is one of the most important elements in the human body. Its main functions include:
1. It is needed to protect the brain against damage from oxidative stress. For example, studies have shown some benefit with natural lithium supplements for people with Alzheimer’s disease, other dementias, and those taking psycho-active medications.
2. It can help produce an increase in the strength and quality of the tissues that is quite subtle, but important in some cases.
3. Lithium is also used in every cell of the body for subtle functions, some of which have to do with mental development or enhancement of the brain.
4. Some patients have reported pain relief when they took lithium orotate or lithium aspartate. I do not know the mechanism for this.
SOURCES OF LITHIUM
The best sources are foods.
1. Mustards of all kinds, particularly organic mustard.
3. Sardines, and other fish and sea products are good sources, but we only recommend sardines due to mercury contamination of all products from the sea.
4. Blue corn, but only the blue corn, not other varieties of corn to the same degree.
5. Raw or roasted pistachio nuts are also a good source of lithium, but only a few every few days. Do not overdo on this food, as it is quite yin.
6. Cooked vegetables. In fact, this is one reason I recommend that 70-80% of the diet be composed of cooked vegetables. The only cooked or raw vegetables to avoid are: 1) the nightshade family of vegetables (tomatoes, potatoes, eggplant and all peppers). A little cayenne pepper is okay, but the nightshade vegetables are irritating and contain a poison called solanin. They are also much too yin. 2) mushrooms, summer squashes, okra and cucumbers. These are also too yin. Read Yin Disease if you wish more information about yin foods and their many problems.
7. Other. Noni juice, for example, has some lithium. However, I do not advise consuming this very much, as it is very yin, as are most fruits.
8. Lithium supplements. Some people need more lithium than they can obtain in foods. Common supplements are lithium orotate or lithium aspartate.
TOXIC SOURCES OF LITHIUM
Prescription lithium (often lithium carbonate). If possible, avoid prescription lithium used for bipolar disorder. It is toxic, in fact, and builds up in the liver and can shortens one’s lifespan.
Lithium in spring or drinking water. Today some drinking or spring water contains lithium. Please avoid these products, as the lithium is somewhat toxic.
Lithium used as a poison. It is possible to poison a person with lithium. It is almost odorless and tasteless in some forms, and does not cause immediate symptoms. However, used for a while it builds up in the brain where it can cause many problems.
POSSIBLE USES FOR SUPPLEMENTARY LITHIUM
I do not use lithium supplements often. However, they have proven helpful in a few cases, as described below:
1. Mental development. To enhance spiritual development if a person will not eat lithium-rich foods, or if the body’s lithium level is extremely low, or if a person cannot absorb lithium well.
These situations are rare, however, if one will eat correctly and follow a nutritional balancing program.
2. Protection from the use of psycho-active medications or others that build up in the brain. Lithium may help protect the brain of a person who must take psycho-active medications such as anti-depressants, anti-convulsants and other drugs that affect the brain.
3. Active alcoholism. It may be helpful in cases of alcoholism if a person will not stop drinking alcohol, it may help protect the brain to some degree.
4. Depression. In some cases of depression, supplementary lithium is helpful. I am not sure why this is so.
5. Toxic metals. Perhaps in some cases of toxic metals in the brain, lithium may be protective for a while until the metals are removed.
6. Bipolar disorder. This is its most common use by mainstream physicians. They use much more toxic forms of lithium in extremely high doses. Lower doses of the orotate or aspartate forms might work to some degree. A nutritional balancing program usually takes care of bipolar disorder easily.
7. Other. Lithium supplements may help with some cases of pain, liver poisoning with toxic chemicals, some cases of epilepsy, and perhaps some cases of Alzheimer’s disease.
TOXICITY OF LITHIUM
Lithium found in vegetables and other foods appears to be completely non-toxic. The lithium found in natural lithium supplements such as lithium orotate or lithium aspartate also appears to be completely harmless.
In contrast, the high-dose lithium carbonate or others used by doctors is definitely toxic. I would always try a natural approach first. You can take plenty of the natural product if needed, but read labels, too.
“SPIRITUAL” ASPECTS OF LITHIUM
Lithium is one of the so-called spiritual minerals, along with zinc and selenium. I call it this because it appears needed for brain development. It is therefore very important for mental as well as health at this time. Please do not ignore your diet so that you will get enough lithium easily in your food. In addition, we give everyone a kelp supplement of about 1900 to 4000 mg daily.