Lithium Orotate is a specific form of elemental lithium that has a powerful potential in addressing several major neurological conditions and issues such as migraines, Alzheimer’s, Shock, and even Diabetes. This curious compound is similar to the lithium carbonate compound most people are familiar with, but much less likely to elicit unwanted side effects.

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Safer Alternative With Few Side Effects

Lithium orotate is a form of elemental lithium that is bound to an orotic acid molecule. This makes it much more bioavailable than traditional lithium carbonate compounds and also efficacious with much fewer side effects. Just to be clear; we’re still talking about lithium here and it’s possible to overdose even on lithium orotate (R). Yes, the same kind of lithium that one can buy without a prescription online. It’s also important to note these higher-efficacy-at-lower-doses observations have been mostly in animal studies (R).

allows an efficacious amount of lithium to cross the blood-brain barrier while slowing potentially-toxic buildup in tissues and organs

Lithium has been and still is, often prescribed for the management of bipolar disorder. Prescription forms of lithium are often the carbonate or citrate form. Both of these are associated with numerous side effects, many of which can be quite serious. Lithium orotate has finds its acclaim by being able to impact serum lithium levels with less overall lithium being ingested. This allows an efficacious amount of lithium to cross the blood-brain barrier while slowing potentially-toxic buildup in tissues and organs such as the kidneys.

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Treatments & Benefits

Lithium Orotate has been studied for its effectiveness in treating alcoholism and related conditions (R). While supportive research related specifically to lithium orotate is lacking, lithium itself is regarded to be among the most effective treatments for many conditions like depression, bipolar disorder, insomnia, hormonal imbalance, and even digestive issues. Again, the case for lithium orotate hinges on the fact that it is likely effective at much lower doses than traditional lithium salts like lithium carbonate.

Benefits of Lithium Orotate

The benefits of Lithium have been clinically studied to some extent and have substantiated benefits in addressing several mental/cognitive disorders. In addition, Lithium has been shown to exhibit neuroprotective abilities as well as having a beneficial impact on the central nervous system (R). The majority of benefits associated with lithium orotate are the same as those associated with lithium carbonate. That’s where the research is and that’s what the majority of professional treatments have used in the past decades. In other words, the benefits of lithium orotate are regarded as being the same as more traditionally-used forms with the added benefit of having many fewer side effects.

Bipolar Disorder & Neuroprotection

Lithium has been exhaustively documented as being an effective Glycogen Synthase Kinase-3 (GSK-3) inhibitor, which is the mechanism by which it is thought to help treat bipolar disorder (R). Acting as a neuroprotector, Lithium has demonstrated a wide spectrum of ability to help curb disease and disorders rooted in neurodegeneration. This includes, but isn’t limited to, Alzheimer’s, anxiety, and depression.

Anti-Inflammatory & Metabolic Support

Through this mechanism, Lithium has been shown to show benefits in the treatments of Alzheimer’s, Type 2 Diabetes, Shock, Inflammation, Schizophrenia, and many metabolic disorders within the body (R). Modern research is quickly learning inflammation plays an integral role in many age-related disorders as well as major diseases such as cancer (R). Lithium’s anti-inflammatory action paints it as a likely candidate for helping mitigate issues common to many health conditions.

Anxiety & Depression

It was mentioned above that lithium has the potential to address depression and anxiety disorders. It’s worth noting that these conditions are often found alongside conditions such as bipolar disorder, often some of its hallmark characteristics. The treatment of bipolar disorder with lithium, be it the traditional carbonate form or the orotate form, is often a treatment for depression and anxiety issues as well.

Lithium, by itself, is able to treat depression more effectively than selective serotonin re-uptake inhibitors (SSRIs)

The neurological overlaps between conditions such as anxiety and depression aren’t well-understood. However, the majority of FDA-approved treatments for one often serves as an effective treatment for the other. In the case of lithium specifically, it’s reasonable to assume such cross-condition efficacy might be observed as well. Recent research has corroborated such claims and has noted that lithium, by itself, is able to treat depression more effectively than selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors (SSRIs) (R).

Lithium Orotate Side Effects

Lithium is often associated with its historical use as a prescription treatment for mental disorders such as schizophrenia and bipolar disorder. Typical doses administered for this purpose are as high as 1200mg/day for an average adult (R). These types of massive dosages have led to the assumption that lithium is capable of doing a great deal of harm to your body. A large factor for risk of Lithium toxicity is the amount one must take to allow a beneficial amount into the bloodstream. Lithium Orotate, on the other hand, is able to enter the bloodstream much more easily, so much lower doses are able to achieve the same effects.

“Lithium has demonstrated remarkable benefit in the treatments of Alzheimer’s, Type II Diabetes, Shock, Inflammation, Schizophrenia, and many metabolic disorders within the body”

Lithium toxicity is largely understood through the data gathered with those patients taking the compound in its Carbonate form, which is thought to be less bio-available than Lithium Orotate (R) This data has been split into three sub-categories of toxicity; Acute, Chronic, and Acute-Chronic Toxicity (R). The symptoms associated with Lithium Carbonate toxicity are diarrhea, dizziness, nausea, vomiting and generalized weakness, tremors, ataxia, muscle twitches, seizures, or slurred speech. These are the symptoms most commonly associated with acute toxicity. Symptoms of chronic toxicity are similar except that psychosis tends to develop as well, exhibited by strange behaviors. Lithium Orotate is able to avoid these horrible side-effects, while still providing the powerful neuroprotective effects of Lithium.

Not FDA-Approved

Currently, Lithium Orotate is not approved by the FDA for the treatment of any disease or disorder and is sold without a prescription as a dietary supplement. Most people are familiar with Lithium Carbonate, the traditionally-prescribed medication for Bi-Polar disorder, and assume any lithium Product is prescription-only—that’s not the case at all. Lithium Orotate supplements, such as Vital Nutrients’ Lithium Orotate 5MG, can be legally purchased in local health food stores and online through such retailers as Amazon.

Lithium Orotate supplements can be legally purchased in local health food stores and online through such retailers as Amazon

Lacking FDA-approved status is often a red flag but, when it comes to dietary supplements and more natural treatments, there isn’t always a lot of commercial incentive to finance an expense approval process. In other words, drugs that don’t can’t be patented don’t often get researched enough to inspire the FDA. One shouldn’t take lithium orotate casually just because it’s available without a prescription but one also shouldn’t write it off as lacking efficacy simply because it doesn’t share the same FDA-approval status as its close chemical counterparts.

Important Considerations

There are several important considerations to make when purchasing lithium, especially if you’re intent on treating a health condition such as depression with it. If you live in the United States, dietary supplements such as lithium orotate have a lot of red tape surrounding the advertising practices a manufacturer can use. It’s also important to consider what type of inactive ingredients may be included as well. Consider the following:

Public Reviews vs. Advertiser Claims

The United States is in a peculiar state when it comes to allowing manufacturers of dietary supplements to advertise their product’s potential benefits. Without FDA-approved status, lithium orotate can’t be advertised (at least not legally) as being able to treat or cure any health condition. However, such products can advertise the ability to support more favorable health. However, advertisers and manufacturers can publicly post reviews of their products that do contain language describing as much.

Exceptions for Large Retailers

Take Advanced Research’s Lithium Orotate for example; this product has many reviews—several of which detail the product’s ability to drastic change lives for the better. A few examples of the testimonials given are as follows:

  • I have been using lithium orotate for a short time and have already stabilized my depression and mood swings more than any other time
  • Then I tried this product. Almost immediately I just felt “good”!! Happier, ‘life’ just didn’t seem so ‘heavy’, things were manageable
  • Did I mention there are no side effects? This is a bona fide godsend. Do the homework, then buy this product.
  • I did extensive research and found this product had the best overall capability to treat my Bi-Polar

These reviews reinforce the idea that Lithium Orotate is able to treat emotional disorders, as well as other health concerns effectively, and with little chance for side effects. Note these are reviews are on Amazon.com, the largest e-commerce websites in the world and without a doubt well-known by FDA compliance officers.

Targeting Smaller Retailers

Now take another example—a small company called Bio-Recovery—which sells several dietary supplements marketed as products to aid the body in detoxification. In 2014, this company had an on-site inspection by the FDA, as well as an audit of their website and it’s marketing practices. Below is an excerpt from the Warning Letter sent to Bio-Recovery by the FDA post-audit:

Specific examples of some of the website claims that provide evidence that your products are intended for use as drugs are below.  Your website also contains evidence of intended use in the form of personal testimonials recommending or describing the use of products for the cure, mitigation, treatment, or prevention of disease.

As you can see, Bio-Recovery was handed a warning by the FDA for having such statements publicly-seen on their website, while Amazon is allowed to keep chugging along. The legal framework that separates the ability of a company to associate beneficial claims with a dietary supplement is not only complex but to most people— it seems to contradict itself.

Supplement Quality

Supplements, being in such a grey area, aren’t bound by the same manufacturing quality guidelines as pharmaceuticals. Supplements are able to be sold without prior approval from the FDA or USDA for product quality. Manufacturers that skimp on quality assurance or mislabel their products are very likely to be held accountable at some point. Unfortunately for consumers, this is often after those manufacturers’ products have already hit the shelves. We have an article detailing some of the best supplement brands on the market to help you get started.

Lithium Orotate vs. Lithium Carbonate

Lithium Orotate is an ionized form of lithium, technically a salt similar to potassium, and is thought to cross the blood-brain barrier much more easily than Lithium carbonate. In one study among mice, researchers noted that there were no observable differences in the absorption of different forms of lithium, including both orotate and carbonate (R). There have also been similar such studies conducted (again, on animals) that describe lithium orotate to be as efficacious as lithium carbonate at much smaller doses (R).

Lithium orotate can be regarded as being nearly 1500% more bioavailable than lithium carbonate

Lithium Carbonate is usually prescribed at a 300mg dose, three times daily, delivering as much as 120mg of elemental lithium. This is considered to be an introductory dosage of lithium and is often increased to as much as 1200-1600mg. By contrast, many healthcare practitioners often regard a 150mg dose of lithium orotate—providing roughly 6mg of elemental lithium—nearly 95% less than the orotate form! That’s a LOT less elemental lithium required to achieve an effective dose with a LOT smaller chance of producing unwanted side effects!

Final Considerations

Lithium is among the gold standards for treating bipolar disorders. It’s also notorious for producing many unwanted side effects, many of which can be quite severe. Lithium orotate is a non-prescription form of lithium, bound with orotic acid, that demonstrates the ability to cross the blood-brain barrier much more easily. This allows for lower doses of elemental lithium to produce the same positive effects attributed to lithium carbonate. This compound is available without a prescription but isn’t FDA-approved for the treatment of any condition. Buy yours from trustworthy brands and consult your doctor before starting any new medication or dietary supplement. Remember, just because it works for someone else doesn’t mean it won’t cause issues for you!

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