Lithium is a naturally occurring element that is used as an active ingredient in several prescription medicines for combating several types of mood disorders. The great thing about lithium is that it can be used for both manic depressive maladies such as stress, alcoholism, and depression, and even for hyperactivity-based disorders such as aggression, anger, and attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD). Therefore, we can also deduce that it can be used against bipolar disorders, as it works as a mood stabilizer to bring extreme moods into a calmer state. Recent studies into the uses and properties of lithium also suggest that it can be used against brain-degenerating diseases such as Parkinson's disease and Alzheimer's disease, as it prevents or even reverses neuronal cell death and neurological retardation.
Thus, we can see that lithium imparts a variety of brain-related benefits. Lithium carbonate was the original supplement, but lithium orotate has emerged as perhaps a better alternative to the former, trying to nullify some of the side effects of lithium carbonate. Lithium orotate is a salt of orotic acid and lithium, wherein the lithium atom is non-covalently bound to an orotate ion instead of a carbonate ion. Its chemical formula is LiC5H3N2O4·H2O. It is particularly used as a diet supplement as well as a prescription medication.
Lithium Orotate vs. Lithium Carbonate
Lithium orotate tries to nullify the problems that lithium carbonate creates. The problem with lithium carbonate is that it is useful only when the lithium component reaches complex intracellular structures of mitochondria and lysosomes. Unless it seeps into the cells, it is quite useless. So, to ensure that lithium is absorbed, doctors prescribe a slightly higher dosage of lithium carbonate. Now too much of anything is going to create a problem for you. When excess lithium does not get absorbed by the cells, it floats around in the blood, shooting up the toxicity of blood. Lithium orotate, being an orotate ion, gets absorbed in the cells a bit faster and reduces the accumulation of lithium in the blood. Hence, smaller doses can be used to produce effective results.
Side Effects of Lithium Orotate
Depending upon the dosage, the effects may vary. Even the slightest overdose may lead to symptoms like hand tremors, frequent urination, thirst, nausea, diarrhea, dizziness, fatigue, and vomiting. An even higher dosage will lead to drowsiness, poor coordination, muscular weakness, ringing in the ears, blurred vision, and loss of appetite. Weight gain and edema may also occur along with dermatological conditions such as acne, psoriasis, rashes, etc. Lithium dosages at times can cause blood levels to shoot up to a level that is toxic to the body. Hence, it is necessary to keep a check on its levels in blood, every 3 to 6 months.
Excessive lithium may interrupt the regular cardiac function, causing the heart to function irregularly, it may damage the cardiac tissue and also work to generate cardiac arrythmias, which may or may not lead to a heart attack. It also affects the kidney, since the kidney is responsible for excreting waste from the body. However, since lithium is not readily disposed by many of the metabolic pathways, it accumulates in the kidney, either causing the formation of kidney stones or inducing tissue damage and renal failure. It is also known to affect the functioning of the thyroid gland.
It should not be prescribed to pregnant or lactating mothers, as lithium may be transferred to the fetus, which would lead to the development of birth defect of functional disorders of the fetal physiological system. Also, in case of an imminent surgery, its use should be discontinued after discussing it with your doctor, since lithium has been known to interact with anesthesia as well as a few neurotransmitters like serotonin. Hence, these properties could lead to the development of undue complications during surgical procedures.
Hence, lithium orotate dosage should be carefully prescribed by a certified medical practitioner, and its levels in the bloodstream should be carefully monitored at regular intervals. You should consult your doctor as soon as you notice any signs of discomfort or disorientation. Also, get a blood checkup done every 3 months to ensure that there may be no instance of toxicity in blood.