Is lithium orotate (LiOr) a natural bipolar cure or a dangerous form of self medication? Unfortunately it appears it may be both.
LiOr is suggested as a cure for the symptoms of both bipolar depression and bipolar mania.
This form of natural lithium is also popular for curing anxiety and panic attacks. Reliable information on LiOr is hard to find!
My research suggests LiOr may be worth trying for Bipolar Type II or panic disorder but first we must check the facts.
What is LiOr?
This is a simple chemical salt – just like lithium carbonate or lithium citrate.
The big difference is in bioavailability. (Bioavailability is the degree to which, or the rate at which, a drug or other substance is absorbed or becomes available at the targeted place in the body).
LiOr has become a popular and successful supplement because it easily crosses the blood brain barrier. Supporters of LiOr based products argue that this makes it possible to get a therapeutic effect with a very small dose and therefore escape the risk of side effects that come from traditional lithium use.
Thus, symptoms of bipolar such as depression and mania, or anxiety, can be addressed without problems like weight gain, slowed thinking, or kidney stress.
Various versions of LiOr are promoted heavily online and in health food stores and are often described as herbal lithium, natural lithium, or homeopathic lithium.
Research on “Natural” Lithium
There is one study involving humans. This found some effectiveness in the treatment of alcoholism. However, it did not examine effectiveness for bipolar disorder or treating symptoms of depression or anxiety.
There are three other fascinating and very promising studies, but these were based on rats.
One rat study found no difference between LiOr and conventional lithium carbonate.
However, another rat study found greater uptake of LiOr compared to conventional lithium carbonate. This provided evidence that LiOr could be a very effective medication and why the low doses available in the LiOr products for sale on the Internet and in health food stores may be of benefit.
The final rat study found very adverse impact on kidneys compared to conventional lithium carbonate. This led the researchers to conclude: It seems inadvisable to use lithium orotate for the treatment of patients.
This is the study that has done most to damage the reputation of lithium orotate. But critics of this study point out that the amount of LiOr injected into the rats was relatively huge – the whole point being that only small doses are required to get the same benefits as with lithium carbonate, so there is no need to test using the same (large) amounts!
It is important to keep in mind, however, a case report has highlighted the important fact that LiOr contains an active medicine (lithium); a patient intentionally overdosed on the substance that they bought over the internet and experienced lithium toxicity.
This is not a completely benign substance and should be used responsibly and with the oversight of a qualified physician.
Lithium orotate and anxiety disorder
Along with being bipolar (symptoms of depression AND mania), I suffer from crippling panic attacks.
I would love to hear that LiOr really does work, especially where anxiety is concerned.
This panic has been a long standing problem for me – it feels like I am choking and often makes it impossible for me to eat because I become convinced that I cannot swallow.
ANYTHING that claims to help with anxiety gets my attention!
The reason I educated myself on this topic was because of the claims being made about the various products using this “natural” alternative and anxiety disorder.
Is Dr. Phelps correct that LiOr could be worth trying? My dilemma is that I already take lithium carbonate and I don’t know how to take both without messing up my doses and lithium levels. It will be hard to find a doctor to supervise your experimenting with LiOr or help you safely integrate with existing meds.
If you do try LiOR, DO NOT EXCEED the recommended dose! And it is always recommended to discuss this with your physician.
Articles in support of LiOr
I recently found 3 articles that express positive views, although I present them with a caution. Although all 3 of these articles have been at least co-authored by medical doctors, there does appear to be a financial incentive involved in promoting LiOr. So with that in mind . . .
The Misunderstood Mineral Part 1 by Jonathan V. Wright, M.D. (Reprinted From Nutrition and Healing).
The Misunderstood Mineral Part 2 by Jonathan V. Wright, M.D. (Reprinted From Nutrition and Healing).
Lithium Orotate: The Unique Safe Mineral with Multiple Uses by Ward Dean, M.D. and Jim English.
Taking Lithium orotate in the recommended doses appears to be safe and side effect free. Some respected experts like Dr. Phelps are cautiously supportive. Just make sure you stick with a well known and reputable brand.
These products are not FDA regulated so you may not be getting a product that is pure or contains the stated amounts – which can be unsafe.
Since 2009, I have received over 90 comments from readers on their experiences with LiOr. These were 80% positive.
Many claim this form of natural lithium has greatly helped them with symptoms of depression, mania, anxiety, and panic attacks. BUT I DO NOT TAKE LITHIUM OROTATE!
I want to take it and have (briefly) tried it with seemingly positive results. However, I simply cannot get past the lack of support and supervision from the medical profession. Please – proceed with caution.