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Lithium in water link to less suicide

5th May 2009

Research carried out in Japan has suggested that adding minute quantities of the element lithium to drinking water may reduce the risk of suicide in the population drinking it.

water

The study tracked the levels of lithium in drinking water, and suicide rates, in Japan's Oita prefecture.

Oita, which has a population of more than one million and varying levels of lithium in drinking water, saw a significantly lower suicide rate in areas with the highest concentrations of lithium in the water.

Writing in the British Journal of Psychiatry, researchers from the universities of Oita and Hiroshima found that even tiny concentrations of the element were linked to lower suicide rates.

High doses of lithium are already used to treat serious mood disorders, but can have side-effects, and are potentially toxic in large quantities.

Levels ranged from 0.7 to 59 micrograms per litre.

The effect on the brain might accumulate over many years of drinking water with these concentrations of the element, researchers speculated.
A previous study from the 1980s has also found a significantly lower rate of suicide in areas with relatively high lithium levels in tap water.

But mental health experts warned that lithium was a powerful and potentially toxic drug, although acknowledging its potential to treat bipolar disorder.

Any suggestion that it should be added, even in tiny amounts, to drinking water should be treated with caution and researched very thoroughly, they said.

In Japan, the researchers did not call for lithium to be added to tap water, but said further research was needed.

A debate has raged around the question of whether to add fluoride to water to protect dental health. Critics say additives of this kind are tantamount to mass, involuntary medication.


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Andrew Grimes

Wednesday 6th May 2009 @ 0:48

Yes the pros and cons still need to be weighed carefully. It is important to note that this study was done on naturally existing levels of lithium in the water supply in the Oita area of Japan. Some bloggers on other websites have misunderstood this as being some indication lithium is being added to the water supply in Japan, an assertion which is groundless in fact.

While the BBC report is well written there is also a good report on this from the Telegraph published on 30th April:

http://www.telegraph.co.uk/health/healthnews/5251365/Natural-levels-of-lithium-in-drinking-water-help-reduce-suicides.html

For the orginal article in the British Journal of Psychiatry see:
http://bjp.rcpsych.org/cgi/content/abstract/194/5/464

Useful telephone number for Japanese residents of Japan who speak Japanese or English and are feeling depressed or suicidal:

Inochi no Denwa (Lifeline Telephone Service):
Japan: 0120-738-556
Tokyo: 3264 4343

Tokyo English Life Line: 03-5774-0992

Andrew Grimes
Tokyo Counseling Services

http://tokyocounseling.com/english/
http://tokyocounseling.com/jp/

morgan miller

Wednesday 27th May 2009 @ 22:01

People, people, people..we need to educate ourselves before jumping to having such strong opinions based on what we have heard about something that is given at very high doses to very sick people. If lithium was ever added to the water, it would be at such a low dose that toxicity would never ever be an issue, no matter how much one drank. So I guess everyone is ok with the chlorine that is in most of our water? I can tell you right now that other than chorine keeping our water clean it has absolutely not value whatsoever. I would not be surprised if in the not so distant future we find out that the chlorine in our water is causing health issues. I am sure there are other methods/systems to clean our water but as usual, especially in the U.S., the cheaper less healthy solution takes precedence. O.K...back to lithium. First of all, lithium is not some synthetic drug made by man. Lithium is a natural occuring ion element that has been around since the big bang. Secondly, recent research has shown that lithium drastically extended the life span of worms. Alright, it has not been proven to do so in humans but it is promising. Thirdly, lithium has neuroprotective properties, meaning that as you age, lithium may protect parts of your brain from dying as fast as they normally would. Fourth, lithium has been shown to increase grey matter and enhance neurogenesis in the brain. Fifth, lithium has antibacterial and antiviral properties and has shown promise in suppressing the herpes virus. Sixth, many people out there that are into life extension and neuroprotection are taking a daily low dose of over the counter forms of lithium called lithium orotate and lithium aspartate. Lastly, lithium can make anyone feel better! Like I said, educate yourself before making such judgements. I am being a bit harsh I guess. Before I knew all the facts about lithium and got over the typical ignorant stigmatic view of lithium, I may have said the same thing that many of you said here.

morgan miller

Wednesday 27th May 2009 @ 22:03

Lithium-induced increase in human brain grey matter Purchase the full-text article Gregory J Moore PhDa, b, Corresponding Author Contact Information, E-mail The Corresponding Author, Joseph M Bebchuk MDa, Ian B Wilds MSca, Guang Chen MDa and ProfHusseini K Menji FRCP(C)a, c aDepartments of Psychiatry and Behavioural Neurosciences, Wayne State University School of Medicine, 4201 St Antoine, UHC-9B, Detroit, MI 48201, USA bDepartment of Radiology, Wayne State University School of Medicine, 4201 St Antoine, UHC-9B, Detroit, MI 48201, USA cDepartment of Pharmacology, Wayne State University School of Medicine, 4201 St Antoine, UHC-9B, Detroit, MI 48201, USA Available online 19 October 2000. Referred to by: DEPARTMENT OF ERROR The Lancet, Volume 356, Issue 9247, 16 December 2000, Page 2104 PDF (55 K) Summary Rodent studies have shown that lithium exerts neurotrophic or neuroprotective effects. We used three-dimensional magnetic resonance imaging and brain segmentation to study pharmacologically-induced increases in grey matter volume with chronic lithium use in patients with bipolar mood disorder. Grey-matter volume increased after 4 weeks of treatment. The increases in grey matter probably occurred because of neurotrophic effects. Lithium-induced increase in human brain grey matter. Moore GJ, Bebchuk JM, Wilds IB, Chen G, Manji HK. Rodent studies have shown that lithium exerts neurotrophic or neuroprotective effects. We used three-dimensional magnetic resonance imaging and brain segmentation to study pharmacologically-induced increases in grey matter volume with chronic lithium use in patients with bipolar mood disorder. Grey-matter volume increased after 4 weeks of treatment. The increases in grey matter probably occurred because of neurotrophic effects. PMID: 11072948 [PubMed - indexed for MEDLINE] Related articles * Lithium increases N-acetyl-aspartate in the human brain: in vivo evidence in support of bcl-2's neurotrophic effects? Biol Psychiatry. 2000 Jul 1; 48(1):1-8.

morgan miller

Wednesday 27th May 2009 @ 22:04

Bipolar disease drug dramatically increases lifespan in worms November 14th, 2007 - 8:09 am ICT by admin Tell a Friend - Lithium has been used to treat mood affective disorders, including bipolar disease for decades, according to background information in an article published online in the Journal of Biological Chemistry. While the drug has been shown to protect neurons, the underlying mechanism of its therapeutic action is not understood. Moreover, lithium’s therapeutic range is very limited in humans, and the drug has serious side effects. Dr. Gordon J. Lithgow, a faculty member at the Buck Institute, says that their study provides a novel genetic approach to understanding how lithium works. He says that the study also highlights the utility of using the nematode C. elegans as a research subject in the field of “pharmacogenetics”, which involves the study of genetic factors that influence an organism’s reaction to a drug. The researchers have found that longevity was increased in the worms when the lithium “turned down” the activity of a gene that modulates the basic structure of chromosomes. Dr. Lithgow believes that lithium impacts many genes. “Understanding the genetic impact of lithium may allow us to engineer a therapy that has the same lifespan extending benefits. One of the larger questions is whether the lifespan extending benefits of the drug are directly related to the fact that lithium protects neurons,” he said. While the process of normal ageing is intrinsically linked to the onset of neurodegenerative disease in humans, the cellular changes and events that impact neurodegeneration have yet to be understood. Dr. Lithgow stressed that studies involving compounds such as lithium could provide breakthroughs in the attempt to understand the biomedical link between aging and disease. He and his colleagues are now surveying tens of thousands of compounds for affects on ageing. “The use of simple model organisms with well developed genetic tools can speed the identification of molecular targets. This could facilitate the development of improved therapies for diseases,” said Dr. Lithgow. (ANI)

morgan miller

Wednesday 27th May 2009 @ 22:05

Low Dose Lithium May Prevent Alzheimer's Article by Rose Kivi (3,710 pts ) Published on Apr 30, 2009 RSS Share A natural supplement that you can purchase at the health food store may prevent and even treat Alzheimer's. Some alternative medicine practitioners have touted the benefits of low dose lithium supplements for a healthy brain. Dr. Jonathan V. Wright M.D. claims that lithium orotate or lithium aspartate can increase gray matter in the brain without the harmful side effects associated with high doses of lithium carbonate. Lithium carbonate is a prescription medication that is used to treat bipolar disorder by the psychiatric community. High doses of lithium carbonate need to be taken to see results. Typical doses are in the range of 300 mg to 900 mg. Lithium orotate and lithium aspartate are natural supplements that can be found in health food stores . Dr. Wright and other alternative health care practitioners claim that both lithium orotate and aspartate are harmless and free from side effects because only 5 to 20 milligrams are needed to produce results. They say that the natural supplements are utilized by the cells better than their prescription counterpart and high doses are not needed. Scientific studies may back up Dr.Wright’s claims that lithium can help prevent and treat Alzheimer’s disease. A study conducted by Wayne State University School of Medicine in Detroit showed that lithium carbonate increases gray matter in the brain. The small study tested ten subjects who were taking lithium carbonate for bipolar disorder. MRI brain scans were taken of patients before they started taking lithium and again four weeks after they took lithium daily. The MRI images showed that all of the tested patients had a significant increase of gray matter in their brain. The research at Wayne State University used lithium carbonate. It is possible that the two natural forms of lithium could also be beneficial in increasing gray matter. There is not a lot of documented research on the use of low dose lithium orotate and lithium aspartate. Dr Wright and other alternative medical practitioners have claimed that they have treated patients with positive results, but research needs to be done to back up these claims. It is known that the prescription form of lithium (lithium carbonate) can cause serious side effects, including death. Patients taking lithium carbonate undergo regular blood testing to make sure that they do not unsafe levels of lithium in their system. Alternative practitioners claim that natural lithium supplements are safe because they are taken in low doses and that blood testing is not necessary. The effectiveness and safety of the low dose lithium orotate and lithium aspartate is still considered controversial. A doctor should always be consulted before starting a regiment of natural lithium from the health food store. Please read this disclaimer regarding the information contained within this article. Resources Wayne State University School of Medicine Jonathan V. Wright M.D. Share Digg digg Del.icio.us del.icio.us StumbledUpon StumbleUpon reddit reddit See More About: alternative medicine, gray matter, lithium aspartate, lithium orotate, Alzheimer's prevention

morgan miller

Wednesday 27th May 2009 @ 22:07

One more thing I would like to add; lithium exists naturally in many water supplies already. Some of those water supplies are much lower than others. Raising and adjusting lithium levels so that all water supplies have the same amount of healthy lithium levels may not be a bad idea at all. Lithium also exists in trace amounts in many foods. Lithium may just be a nutrient that we may all benefit from getting a little more of. Lithium: Occurrence, Dietary Intakes, Nutritional Essentiality Gerhard N. Schrauzer, PhD, CNS, FACN Department of Chemistry and Biochemistry, University of California, San Diego Address reprint requests to: Gerhard N. Schrauzer, PhD, CNS, FACN, Biological Trace Element Research Institute, 2400 Boswell Rd., Ste. 200, Chula Vista, CA 91914. 92121 ABSTRACT TOP ABSTRACT INTRODUCTION LITHIUM IN THE ENVIRONMENT,... DIETARY INTAKES AND SOURCES... LITHIUM IN ORGANS AND... ESSENTIALITY FOR THE RAT ESSENTIALITY FOR THE GOAT EFFECTS OF LITHIUM DEFICIENCY... LITHIUM DEFICIENCY IN HUMANS LITHIUM SUPPLEMENTATION STUDIES MECHANISTIC CONSIDERATIONS PERSPECTIVES FOR THE... REFERENCES Lithium is found in variable amounts in foods; primary food sources are grains and vegetables; in some areas, the drinking water also provides significant amounts of the element. Human dietary lithium intakes depend on location and the type of foods consumed and vary over a wide range. Traces of lithium were detected in human organs and fetal tissues already in the late 19th century, leading to early suggestions as to possible specific functions in the organism. However, it took another century until evidence for the essentiality of lithium became available. In studies conducted from the 1970s to the 1990s, rats and goats maintained on low-lithium rations were shown to exhibit higher mortalities as well as reproductive and behavioral abnormalities. In humans defined lithium deficiency diseases have not been characterized, but low lithium intakes from water supplies were associated with increased rates of suicides, homicides and the arrest rates for drug use and other crimes. Lithium appears to play an especially important role during the early fetal development as evidenced by the high lithium contents of the embryo during the early gestational period. The biochemical mechanisms of action of lithium appear to be multifactorial and are intercorrelated with the functions of several enzymes, hormones and vitamins, as well as with growth and transforming factors. The available experimental evidence now appears to be sufficient to accept lithium as essential; a provisional RDA for a 70 kg adult of 1000 µg/day is suggested. Key words: lithium, lithium carbonate, trace element, essentiality Key teaching points: • Lithium is normally present in all organs and tissues. Lithium is absorbed from the intestinal tract and is excreted primarily by the kidneys. Absorbed lithium is uniformly distributed in body water, with only a small difference between the extracellular and intracellular levels. • During embryonic development, organ lithium levels reach maximal values in the first trimester of gestation and subsequently decline. Animal studies have demonstrated that Li plays a role in the expansion of the pluripotential stem cell pool to more mature progenitor cells and blood elements. • In Li deficient rats, behavioral abnormalities and a significant negative effect on litter size and litter weight at birth were observed. In Li deficient goats the conception rate was reduced, gravid lithium deficient goats experienced a higher incidence of spontaneous abortions. • Defined human lithium deficiency diseases have not been observed. However, inverse associations of tap water lithium contents in areas of Texas with the rates of mental hospital admissions, suicides, homicides and certain other crimes suggest that low lithium intakes cause behavioral defects. • The average daily Li intake of an American 70 kg adult ranges from 650 to 3100 µg. Major dietary sources are vegetables and, in some areas, the drinking water. • Subjects at risk of developing lithium deficiency are patients with kidney diseases and dialysis patients. INTRODUCTION TOP ABSTRACT INTRODUCTION LITHIUM IN THE ENVIRONMENT,... DIETARY INTAKES AND SOURCES... LITHIUM IN ORGANS AND... ESSENTIALITY FOR THE RAT ESSENTIALITY FOR THE GOAT EFFECTS OF LITHIUM DEFICIENCY... LITHIUM DEFICIENCY IN HUMANS LITHIUM SUPPLEMENTATION STUDIES MECHANISTIC CONSIDERATIONS PERSPECTIVES FOR THE... REFERENCES Lithium (Li), the lightest of the alkali metals, was discovered in 1817 by Johan August Arfvedson in petalite, a tektosilicate of composition LiAlSi4Si10. The element occurs in numerous other minerals and was named after the Greek lithos, stone, because of its presence, in trace amounts, in virtually all rocks [1]. Mobilized by weathering processes, lithium is transported into soils, from which it is taken up by plants and enters the food chain. Lithium was detected in human organs and fetal tissues already in the late 19th century, leading to early suggestions of possible specific functions in the organism [2,3], but medical applications of lithium preceded studies on lithium as an essential micronutrient. From the mid 1800s to the early 1940s, lithium carbonate was used - without adequate substantiation or success - to treat gout and to dissolve urate bladder stones. The first legitimate medical application of lithium was introduced 1949, when lithium carbonate was found to be beneficial in manic depressive illness [4]. Today, lithium carbonate is one of the most widely prescribed psychiatric drugs. More recently, it has found other applications, notably in oncology [5,6] and in dermatology [7], for example. However, the present review focuses only on the nutritional aspects of this element. LITHIUM IN THE ENVIRONMENT, UPTAKE BY PLANTS TOP ABSTRACT INTRODUCTION LITHIUM IN THE ENVIRONMENT,... DIETARY INTAKES AND SOURCES... LITHIUM IN ORGANS AND... ESSENTIALITY FOR THE RAT ESSENTIALITY FOR THE GOAT EFFECTS OF LITHIUM DEFICIENCY... LITHIUM DEFICIENCY IN HUMANS LITHIUM SUPPLEMENTATION STUDIES MECHANISTIC CONSIDERATIONS PERSPECTIVES FOR THE... REFERENCES Lithium is found in trace amounts in all soils primarily in the clay fraction, and to a lesser extent in the organic soil fraction [8], in amounts ranging from 7 to 200 µg/g [9,10]. It is present in surface water at levels between 1 and 10 µg/L, in sea water at 0.18 µg/L [9,10]. The lithium concentrations in ground water may reach 500 µg/L, in river water of lithium-rich regions of northern Chile, 1508 and 5170 µg/L, respectively [11]. In the latter regions, total Li intakes may reach 10 mg/day, without evidence of adverse effects to the local population. Still higher lithium levels, up to 100 mg/L are found in some natural mineral waters [1,12]. Lithium is taken up by all plants, although it appears not to be required for their growth and development. However, this question is not yet completely resolved, since, in the ppb range, stimulatory effects of lithium on plant growth have been observed [13]. At high levels in the soil, Li is toxic to all plants, causing a chlorosis-like condition. Uptake and sensitivity to lithium are species dependent. Some plants, notably Cirsium arvense and Solanum dulcamera, accumulate Li three- to sixfold over other plants. Halophilic plants such as Carduus arvense and Holoschoenus vulgaris may reach lithium contents of 99.6–226.4 µg/g [14]. Lithium is relatively toxic to citrus plants; nightshade species are remarkably lithium tolerant and may reach lithium contents of up to 1000 µg/g. Yeast (Saccharomyces cerevisiae) takes up limited amounts of lithium, high levels (115–400 ppm) in the medium cause growth inhibition [15]. In general, more lithium is taken up by plants from acidic than alkaline soils. Since soil acidity also increases the solubility of the heavier metallic elements, plant Li levels are directly and significantly correlated with those of iron, nickel, cobalt, manganese and copper, and to some extent also to those of aluminum, lead and cadmium [16]. The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) in 1985 estimated the daily Li intake of a 70 kg adult to range from 650 to 3100 µg [17]. Primary dietary sources of lithium are grains and vegetables, which may contribute from 66% to more than 90% of the total lithium intake; the remainder is from animal-derived foods (Table


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