Whenever the word “lithium” is mentioned in medical or psychiatric circles, it tends to inspire more questions than answers. Is it safe? Is it toxic? Is it a medicine? Is it a nutrient? Do we need it? Can it hurt or heal the human body?
As with so many other vitamins and minerals produced by the earth, lithium possess an association with human biology characterized by duality. At certain concentrations, it is toxic to us; at others, it is a miracle medicine celebrated since the early 20th century for its ability to stabilize mood and used as a first-line treatment for bipolar disorder. And yet this is not the end of lithium’s story, for a growing body of research literature and empirical clinical evidence suggests that this humble mineral may in fact be one of the most promising treatments available for a range of psychiatric disorders, neurologic diseases, and physiologic maladies. More, this body of literature underscores an increasingly robust rationale for the existence of a lithium deficiency state in susceptible individuals. The closer we look at lithium, the more essential it reveals itself to be for human health.
This four-module course, designed for healthcare practitioners, will take registrants on a fascinating journey from the dawn of the known universe to the present day in search of the truths and therapeutic potentials of lithium. A review of lithium’s natural history will be followed by the presentation of powerful research evidence supporting a lithium deficiency hypothesis and revealing powerful associations between lithium, psychiatric illness, and suicide. The biologic pathways through which lithium confers its documented neuroprotective, antioxidant, and anti-inflammatory effects will be elucidated, and linked mechanistically to clinical presentations for which lithium is now being utilized in functional medicine practices. The delineation of specific dose ranges according to physical response will be discussed in detail, refining actionable parameters for “pharmacologic” vs. “maintenance” vs. “micro-dose” and “nutritional” lithium. Lithium orotate and carbonate will be discussed in regard to their differential pharmacodynamic effects and clinical applications, as will recommendations and best practices for the quantification of lithium status through lab testing. Finally, rationale for the existence of a de facto lithium deficiency that in some individuals may be exacerbated by genetic or epigenetic factors will be objectively presented.
Upon completion, registrants will be able to safely incorporate low-dose nutritional lithium into functional medicine protocols for a variety of psychiatric and neurologic ailments.