Lithium: All Around Us, Yet Ignored and Stigmatized
the MPR take:
A new op-ed in the New York Times highlights the lack of research on lithium as a naturally-occurring element present in our drinking water that could have beneficial health effects, even at miniscule doses. Anna Fels, MD, of Weill Cornell Medical College, states that despite studies that have found improved clinical and behavioral effects in communities with relatively higher natural lithium levels in the drinking water vs. those with lower levels, awareness among medical researchers on these findings is low. For example, a 1990 study found among 27 Texas counties, the areas with the lowest levels of lithium in the drinking water had significantly greater rates of suicide, homicide, and rape than the areas with the highest levels of lithium. This research also noted that the area with the highest lithium level had nearly 40% fewer suicides vs. the lowest lithium level area. Other studies have found that even small amounts of lithium may have a neuroprotective effect on the growth of neurons and perhaps even enhance neuron growth; continued lithium treatment has also been associated with a reduced rate of dementia. Despite the proven psychiatric benefits of lithium for patients with bipolar disorder, some patients are reluctant to take the medication due to the potential side effects that can occur if the medication is not properly monitored and the lingering stigma from its initial use as a treatment primarily for serious mental illnesses.
The idea of putting a mind-altering drug in the drinking water is the stuff of sci-fi, terrorist plots and totalitarian governments. Mother Nature has already put a psychotropic drug in the drinking water, and that drug is lithium. Although this fact has been largely ignored for over half a century, it appears to have important medical implications.
READ FULL ARTICLE From The New York Times