Lithium Carbonate and ALS

Slowing the Progression of ALS - In an Italian study at the University of Pisa, researchers recently revealed that the trace mineral lithium carbonate could significantly slow the progression of ALS

The researchers divided the patients into two groups. The first group of 16 patients took 150 mgs of lithium carbonate twice daily, which is the pharmaceutical drug version of elemental lithium, along with the medication Riluzole. The other group of 32 patients just took the Riluzole.

At the end of the 15 month study, all of the patients taking the lithium were still living.    What’s more, those patients taking the lithium had a very slow progression of the disease, if it progressed at all.  However, in those taking just the Riluzole without the lithium, 30% of the patients died, and the rest of the patients continued to worsen.  The results of the study:  Lithium appeared to stop the progression of ALS.

Properties of the Trace Mineral Lithium

Lithium is a trace mineral that is found in the earth’s crust. Treating bipolar illness is lithium’s most widely known use, but it isn’t a drug per se, as most people believe.  It is part of the same family of minerals that includes sodium and potassium.

Recent research shows that lithium can help protect the brain against the effects of various toxins. One of the well-known actions of lithium is protecting brain and nerve cells from glutamate-induced cell damage.  In fact, based on its general neuroprotective effect, researchers have suggested that lithium could be used as a neuroprotective agent.

As well, lithium may help to generate entirely new cells – According to Dr. Jonathan Wright, MD, another group of researchers reported that lithium also enhances nerve cell DNA replication. DNA replication is the first step in the formation of a any new type of cell. 

As you all know, there is no cure for ALS, and there’s very little medical help available for patients.  Lithium supplementation at the correct dose is a promising option for patients struggling with ALS. If you know of anyone with ALS, please pass this information along.

   

Supplementing with Lithium

The dosage of lithium used in the Italian study is 150 mg of lithium carbonate twice daily. This dose is considered quite high, and must be monitored by a physician. Lithium toxicity includes hypertension, tremors, nausea, diarrhea, muscle weakness, lack of coordination,and protein in the urine.

Fortunately, there is an easy way to prevent lithium toxicity: When taking high-dose lithium, always take essential fatty acids from fish or flax oil (1 to 2 teaspoons) along with 400 IU of vitamin E (as mixed tocopherols) each day. In addition, any adverse effects of lithium toxicity are quickly reversed when one stops taking the mineral.

Lithium is also available in the chelated form of lithium orotate. This is the natural form of lithium. Lithium orotate is not a prescription drug, and it is not toxic like lithium carbonate and lithium citrate are. Lithium orotate is not used in the same way as the pharmaceutical forms of lithium and it does not have the same serious side effects that prescription lithium does.

Lithium orotate crosses the blood-brain barrier. This means that the amounts required of the pharmaceutical drug form of lithium carbonate is not necessary when using lithium orotate. Instead, only a tiny amount of lithium orotate is needed as most of it gets to where it actually needs to go.

The Italian study used 150 mg of lithium carbonate twice daily. 150 mgs of lithium carbonate provides 15 mgs of elemental lithium. To match the Italian study you will need to take 15 mgs of elemental lithium twice daily. One 120 mg capsule of lithium orotate equals 5 mgs of elemental lithium; therefore, you will need approximately 6 capsules of lithium orotate/day.


Cautions Regarding Lithium Supplementation

Please note that we do not sell lithium supplements on our web site, and we cannot answer questions about dosages of lithium orotate. We are not doctors, and we posted this information on lithium for educational purposes only. You must check with your doctor before supplementing with lithium in any form.

No form of lithium should be used by pregnant and nursing women, individuals with renal or cardiovascular disease, diabetics, severe debilatation, dehydration, and by individuals who are taking diuretics or ACE inhibitors, anti-hypertensive drugs, anti-inflammatory drugs, analgesic drugs of insulin.


Where to Purchase Lithium Orotate

Lithium Orotate is available from various companies, including NCI Advanced Research, Serenity, Vitamin Research Products, and Nutrient Carriers.  The Nutrient Carriers brand of lithium orotate is available at www.iherb.com or from The Vitamin Shoppe at 866-293-3367.


References:
1. Jonathan V. Wright, MD www.wrightnewsletter.com
2. Dr. David G. Williams, Alternatives for the Health Conscious Individual, Volume 12, No.13, July 2008
3. Proc Natl Sci USA 08;105:2052-2057

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