Lithium

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Lithium is an element, with the atomic number 3. Taking lithium orally is FDA-approved for the treatment of mania in mixed bipolar disorder and prevention of recurrence of bipolar episodes.  Lithium is in a class of medications called antimanic agents, which work by decreasing abnormal activity in the brain. 

Also known as:  Carbonate de Lithium, Citrate de Lithium, Lithium Carbonate, Lithium Citrate, Lithium Orotate, Litio, Numéro Atomique 3, Orotate de Lithium

Diseases and Conditions

Taking lithium orally is FDA-approved for treatment of mania in mixed bipolar disorder and prevention of recurrence of bipolar episodes.

Safety

Lithium is considered safe when used orally and appropriately. Lithium carbonate and lithium citrate are FDA-approved drugs. Do not use if pregnant or nursing.

Medication Interactions

Do not mix lithium with ACE inhibitors, anticonvulsants, antidepressants, calcium channel blockers, loop diuretics, dextromethorphan, meperidine, methlyzanthines, monoamine oxidase inhibitors (MAOIs), nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs, pentazocine, phenothiazines, thiazide diuretics, skeletal muscle relaxants, or tramadol.

Supplement and Food Interactions

Do not mix lithium with caffeine-containing herbs and supplements, diuretic herbs or herbs and supplements with serotonergic properties.

Dosage

The dosage of lithium depends upon the condition it is used for. As always, consult a physician before taking.

  • For acute manic episodes, lithium carbonate is administered as 1.8 g or 20-30 mg per kg per day in 2-3 divided doses. Some clinicians begin therapy at 600-900 mg per day and titrate up.
  • For bipolar disorder and other psychiatric conditions, the usual adult dose is 900 mg to 1.2 g per day in 2-4 divided doses. Lithium citrate solution 24-32 mEq given in 2-4 divided doses daily has also been used. Maintenance doses usually should not exceed 2.4 g of lithium carbonate or 65 mEq lithium citrate daily. For children, 15-60 mg per kg (0.4-1.6 mEq per kg) per day in divided doses has been used.

Foods

Many foods contain lithium including:

  • Dairy
  • Eggs 
  • Meat 
  • Shrimp
  • Lobster 
  • Oysters
  • Scallops
  • Legumes
  • Kelp
  • Blue corn
  • Mustard
  • Wheat
  • Rice

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References

  1. https://naturalmedicines.therapeuticresearch.com/databases/food,-herbs-supplements/professional.aspx?productid=1065
  2. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmedhealth/PMHT0010972/
  3. https://medlineplus.gov/druginfo/meds/a681039.html

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