No, You’re Not Cuckoo – Lithium Really Is Healthy For You

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A movie poster for One Flew Over The Cuckoo's Nest with Jack Nicolson's picture.

Lithium got a bad reputation when the movie One Flew Over The Cuckoo’s Nest came out in the 1970s.

On November 19, 1975, the movie One Flew Over The Cuckoo’s Nest opened in theaters. It’s one of those movies that you’ll never forget, and Jack Nicholson totally changed the way people think about lithium. 

People now believed that lithium was for people who were crazycuckoo. No one wanted to admit if they were taking lithium, fearing they’d appear as cuckoo as Nicholson’s character in the movie – and he was pretty crazy.

That’s too bad, too, because lithium is a very important trace element that the body needs to maintain good health and balance.

How Lithium Helps Your Body

Lithium is a naturally occurring trace element found in seaweed, dairy, eggs, potatoes, and in fruits and vegetables that are grown in lithium-rich soils, and also found in sea foods.

Lithium has many health benefits:

  1. controls your moods
  2. precursor to hormone development
  3. helps the body absorb minerals
  4. balances a female’s monthly cycle and weight
  5. benefits non-insulin diabetes
  6. assists in alcohol and drug withdrawal
  7. reduces cluster headaches
  8. preventative measure against Alzheimer’s disease

Findings, published in Biological Trace Elements Research, show that low dosages of lithium have a beneficial effect on human behavior, and increasing consumption of lithium through supplements, or through diet and drinking water, might be a means of reducing crime, suicide, and drug-dependency.

If You Really Are Stressed

A funny picture of a frightened man.

You may need lithium if your moods are out of control.

The main benefit of lithium is for the control of bipolar disorder, manic episodes, and depression. But, it’s important that you check, and monitor, your lithium levels using a hair analysis before supplementing with lithium; your medical doctor should check your levels, also, before prescribing lithium.

Lithium is most effective in the prevention and treatment for mania, schizophrenia and many other psychotic symptoms. Studies in Germany focused on mood swings during pregnancy, suicidal tendencies, and any possible side effects of taking lithium. The results were published in the journal Neuropsychiatrie, and showed clear clinical benefits of lithium improving mood stability without side effects.

The study concluded that lithium is a viable treatment for psychotic symptoms, but think about this – why does the lithium work? It works because the patient had a low or depleted lithium level, which caused the health symptoms in the first place. By restoring the lithium level, the “disorder” went away.

It was a nutritional issue. They weren’t cuckoo. They were just low in lithium.

Different Types Of Lithium

Lithium typically conjures images of psychiatric medication, but it is actually a natural alkali metal salt in the same family of minerals as potassium and sodium.

Lithium is extracted from mineral springs and brine pools. It is also mined from igneous rock. The two main sources of lithium in the world are Kings Mountain, North Carolina, and a salt desert in the Andes Mountains of Chile. It is rumored that Afghanistan has one of the richest, untapped lithium mines in the world.

Lithium in water concentrates in crustaceans and mollusks, and to a very small amount in fish. This includes shrimplobsteroysters and scallops. Dairyeggs and meat also contain slight concentrations of the trace mineral.

Lithium cannot work alone, though, and requires a binder, or transporter, to make it accessible to the body. As with most prescribed medications, lithium cannot be absorbed without a binder.

An underwater kelp forest with a fish swimming through it.

Seaweed is a good source of lithium.

The most common forms of medicinal and nutritional lithium + binders are:

  1. lithium carbonate
  2. lithium aspartate
  3. lithium orotate

I recommend lithium orotate to my hair analysis clients who are low, or depleted, in lithium because it is the most natural and safest form of lithium.

Lithium aspartate and lithium orotate are available over-the-counter and contain lower dosages of lithium than lithium carbonate, which must be prescribed by a doctor.

Again, do not take lithium until you know for sure if you are low or depleted in it. 

Your lithium levels will show on a hair analysis.

Restoring lithium is very important and will produce marked signs of cognitive/hormone/emotional improvement. If a hair analysis shows that you are low or depleted in lithium, you can retest your lithium hair level after 8 to 10 months to check your levels; this way you’ll know if you simply needed to restore your low lithium levels, or if you are “burning lithium” as brain fuel on an on-going basis.

Use natural lithium at a very low dose (5 to 7 mcg), which is different from pharmaceutical lithium (carbonate) because lithium from natural food sources is what you would, or should, be eating.

It is getting harder to find quality lithium orotate these days, but I recommend doing a Google search or find an orotate product on Amazon.

In Review

Carbonate is a formulation of carbon and oxygen. This form requires a prescription.

Orotate is a salt derived form from orotic acid, which is frequently used as a binder for mineral supplements and does not require a prescription.

Aspartate comes from aspartic acid, an amino acid and does not require a prescription, but I do not recommended this form of lithium. Isolated aspartic acid is 40% of aspartame, and my work with aspartame toxicity shows that aspartic acid in an isolated form is an excitotoxin, a substance that binds to nerve cell receptors and can cause damaging over-stimulation in the brain.

Not good if you are dealing with anxiety or depression.

Consult your physician or have a hair analysis done before taking any lithium supplements. This trace mineral can be toxic if taken in high doses, taken incorrectly, or taken when not needed, but if you are low in lithium, lithium supplements can work wonders within 72 hours.

No, you’re not cuckoo – lithium really can be healthy for you.


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Disclaimer: This article is for informational purposes only, and is educational in nature. The FDA may not have evaluated some of the statements.  This article is not intended to diagnose, treat, cure, or prevent any disease. Please discuss with your own, qualified health care provider before adding supplements or making any changes to your dietary program.

Before taking vitamins, consult your doctor; pre-existing medical conditions or medications you are taking can affect how your body responds to multivitamins.

About Janet Hull PhD, CN

Janet Starr Hull, PhD, CN has been working with clients in the holistic health field since 1995. Using natural medicine to cure herself from a diagnosis of Graves’ disease caused by aspartame, Dr. Hull began researching the toxic causes of disease. Today, she is one of the world’s leading experts in environmental toxicology and holistic health and nutrition. Dr. Hull is the first researcher to publicly expose the dangers of aspartame. Connect with Dr. Hull on Facebook, Twitter, and Google Plus.

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