Tap water contains traces of lithium, a natural element that’s widely used as a mood-stabilizing treatment. Could this exposure be impacting our moods?
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Sometimes referred to as the “magic ion,” this element’s name is lithium. And a recent review of decades of research has found that the trace amounts of lithium found in the tap could be stabilizing your mood and may even have the potential to reduce the risk of suicide.
Of all the elements, lithium is one of the lightest. This soft, silvery-white metal occurs naturally in soil, rocks, and many foods. It’s also highly reactive, particularly with water, and varying degrees of lithium can be found in surface water, groundwater and seawater around the world. And not only is it valued for boosting the energy density of our batteries over the past few decades, lithium has gained recognition in the medical community for its powerful impacts on mental health, too.
But the doses prescribed and the amount you naturally get from the tap are very different. Used medically, a prescribed dose typically ranges from a couple hundred milligrams to over a thousand. By contrast, the lithium levels found in a liter of drinking water typically measure anywhere between a fraction of one microgram to 200 micrograms, depending on the source.
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Lithium in drinking water linked with lower suicide rates
“Published in the British Journal of Psychiatry, the study collated research from around the world and found that geographical areas with relatively high levels or concentration of lithium in public drinking water had correspondingly lower suicide rates.”
Should We All Take a Bit of Lithium?
“Despite the studies demonstrating the benefits of relatively high natural lithium levels present in the drinking water of certain communities, few seem to be aware of its potential.”
Lithium: the gripping history of a psychiatric success story
“In further experiments at Bundoora, Cade found that lithium carbonate — which had been used to treat conditions such as gout since the nineteenth century — reduced the toxicity of patients’ urine. Cade also noticed that a large dose of the medication tended to calm the guinea pigs.”