Today we tend to think of lithium almost exclusively as a high-dose mood stabilizing drug. While it is clearly one of the best medications for treating bipolar disorder, many psychiatrists have been hesitant to prescribe it because it can be toxic at high, or pharmaceutical, doses. Concern about side effects and toxicity evaporate however, when lithium is used at a nutritional, or low doses.

It is important to remember that lithium is a naturally-occurring mineral and nutrient. It can be used in micro-doses mimicking those found in our food and water supplies to balance brain chemistry safely and effectively. According to the latest scientific research, attributes of low-dose lithium supplementation have included emotional balance, positive mood, tolerance of negative mood, behavioral support, decreased aggression and impulsivity and increased neurocognitive health including memory, cognition and longevity. Although additional studies are essential to deepen our understanding of the clinical applications of this mineral, the preliminary collection is encouraging.

A series of studies on the levels of lithium in drinking water have contributed to the understanding of how low-dose lithium may ameliorate aggression. In the initial study, the levels of lithium in the water of 27 Texan counties was analyzed and compared to the rates of crime and suicide over a 9 year span. Researchers found that the incidence of suicide, homicide, and rape were significantly higher in counties with drinking water containing little or no lithium, versus those with levels ranging from 70-170 mcg/L. (1) This study template has been applied and repeated international at sites in Japan, Austria and England. The collection has revealed strong trends of a negative correlation between violent, aggressive crime and supplemental levels of lithium in the water supply.

Another interesting finding came from a study that looked at lithium levels in the hair of criminals. Hair analysis is one of the most accurate methods for testing long-term mineral status and is therefore highly advantageous for determining where deficiencies are present. This study found that violent criminals had little to no stores of lithium when tested via hair mineral analysis, bringing forth the idea that perhaps lithium deficiency was contributing to defiant behaviors. More recent research has shown that a daily dose of 400 mcg of lithium in participants with histories of aggression and impulsivity had significant impact on happiness, friendliness, and other mood-related parameters. (2)

In anther study, a microdose of 300 mcg lithium was administered to Alzheimer’s patients for 15 months. When compared to the control, it was observed that there were significant improvements in cognitive markers in the group using low-dose lithium after just 3 months of treatment.  These protective effects were strengthened as the study proceeded, suggesting that lithium could be used as a successful treatment for Alzheimer’s Disease at low doses over the long term. (3)