Lithium Orotate [Natural Lithium] Benefits, Dosage, Side EffectsNov 01, 2021
Lithium orotate is a nutritional supplement form of lithium, used in micro doses much like zinc or selenium. Most people, when they hear “lithium,” think of the medication used to treat bipolar disorder. That is available only by prescription, and is a different form of lithium called lithium carbonate. It is used in much, much higher doses, in the range of 1000 mg per day, vs. 10-20 mg per day of lithium orotate.
The prescription lithium is very potent, and is associated with several potential risks and side effects, such as tremor, acne, tiredness, and, more concerning, it may affect both thyroid and kidney function.
Lithium orotate is non-prescription, and available over-the-counter like many other nutritional supplements. It is considered safe, even by the FDA, and we have not seen any problems arise when used in the recommended doses.
Lithium is a mineral that has completely unique properties in terms of how it works in the brain and its impact on mood. Virtually all prescription psychiatric drugs work on the neurotransmitters, either by interacting with the receptors on the outside of the cell (the cell membrane), or by increasing the amount of a certain brain chemical like serotonin or dopamine. Lithium is able to get inside the brain cells (the neurons), affecting the inner workings of the cell itself in ways that can greatly benefit mood. Even the micro doses in lithium orotate may help calm brain activity, promote a positive mood, support emotional wellness and the brain’s natural detoxification process, provide antioxidant support, and promote the natural balance of brain neurotransmitters.
Benefits of Lithium Orotate
- Promotes a positive mental outlook
- Supports detoxification enzymes in the brain
- Boosts neurotransmitter activity
Lithium deficiency in certain insulin-sensitive tissues may be associated with blood sugar imbalance. Low levels have been found in children with developmental delay, and individuals with attention deficit, nervousness, lack of focus, or lack of sleep.
Lithium for Neurotransmitter and Mood Support
Lithium orotate might be most helpful when there is a clear genetic piece to one’s mood problems. That means someone with a strong family history of mood problems might benefit most, or when their own problems began very early in life, especially if the condition recurs even when there are no obvious triggers for it (i.e., stress).
Lithium orotate might also be considered when the mood is unstable, for example in someone who has a lot of irritability, agitation, or frequent mood swings. And also in people who had previously gotten relief from medications, but where they’ve become less effective over time. It appears to be a helpful adjunct to medications, often helping them work better again after they’ve “pooped out.”
So, how does it work to support mood? Lithium is thought to help regulate the neurotransmitter glutamate by keeping the amount of glutamate between brain cells at a stable, healthy level to support healthy brain function. The mineral has been shown to be neuroprotective and to prevent neuronal cell death from free radical stress, effectively protecting neurons from glutamate-induced, NMDA receptor-mediated free radical damage in animals. In effective doses, lithium reduces neurological deficits.[3,4] In animal models, lithium was also found to promote increased cytoprotective B-cell activity.  Research has also found using lithium, in a long-term low-dose support, promotes healthy brain aging.
Lithium for Brain Detoxification Support
Research has also shown lithium to support the brain’s natural detoxification process. It has shown potential as a neuroprotective agent against Aluminum-induced oxidative stress and shows promise to protect the brain against free radical damage. In animal models, lithium increased intracellular glutathione levels and reduced oxygen metabolite damage, suggesting that it selectively boosts glutathione-dependent enzymes to protect against free radical stress.
Lithium Orotate Dosage
It's common for adults to start with 10 mg daily for the first week or two, and then increase to 20 mg daily if needed and well-tolerated. Side effects are fairly uncommon at these low doses, though occasionally it seems to cause slight sedation. If so, it's common to move the full dose to bedtime.
Lithium orotate can also be utilized in children and teens with ADHD, Autism, DMDD, or depression who experience emotionally reactive, angry, and aggressive behaviors. It's common to typically start with a 2.5 - 5 mg dose in a liquid or tablet form, for 1-2 weeks and then titrate up the dose every 1-2 weeks until target symptoms show improvement, to a maximum dose of around 20 mg daily.
Lithium Orotate Side Effects
Lithium orotate is thought to be a safe, inexpensive, and often surprisingly helpful adjunct to other treatments, whether those are medications or natural therapies.
Natural Lithium Supplements at the Natural Mental Health Store
Steady Mood contains the lithium salt of orotic acid, commonly used to support mood. This formulation of Lithium Orotate includes 10 mg of the trace mineral per capsule for a wide range of protocols.
*Note: Some of the supplements discussed in this article can cause side effects, but many people tolerate them much better than prescription medications. They are generally considered safe, however, they should not be started without your doctor’s knowledge and supervision. If you are taking medication already, be sure to talk with your doctor before adding any of these items. If you are considering going off medication, remember never to stop your medication suddenly—always consult with your doctor about how to safely taper off any psychiatric medication. See terms.
**These statements have not been evaluated by the Food and Drug Administration. This product is not intended to diagnose, treat, cure, or prevent any disease.
Calming Stress & Anxiousness with Diet, Supplements, & Herbs
When you understand the basic functions of your brain, then you can more confidently, effectively, and lovingly care for it.
Balancing Excess Glutamate and GABA Deficiencies with Supplements & Herbs
Your body is truly elegant in its design, and this is especially apparent with brain function. One common element of this design is a binary system in which one chemical activates a process while its partner turns it off again. That is true of the first two brain chemicals we'll discuss: Glutamate and GABA.
- Basselin M, Kim HW, Chen M, Ma K, Rapoport SI, Murphy RC, Farias SE. Lithium modifies brain arachidonic and docosahexaenoic metabolism in rat lipopolysaccharide model of neuroinflammation. J Lipid Res. 2010 May;51(5):1049-56. Epub 2009 Dec 29.
- Hu M, Wu YS, Wu HW. Effects of lithium deficiency in some insulin-sensitive tissues of diabetic Chinese hamsters. Biol Trace Elem Res. 1997 Jul-Aug;58(1-2):91-102.
- Chuang DM. Neuroprotective and neurotrophic actions of the mood stabilizer lithium: can it be used to treat neurodegenerative diseases? Crit Rev Neurobiol. 2004;16(1-2):83-90.
- Chuang DM, Wang Z, Chiu CT. GSK-3 as a Target for Lithium-Induced Neuroprotection Against Excitotoxicity in Neuronal Cultures and Animal Models of Ischemic Stroke. Front Mol Neurosci. 2011 Aug 9;4:15. eCollection 2011.
- Chen G, Rajkowska G, Du F, Seraji-Bozorgzad N, Manji HK. Enhancement of hippocampal neurogenesis by lithium. J Neurochem. 2000 Oct;75(4):1729-34.
- Zarse K, Terao T, Tian J, Iwata N, Ishii N, Ristow M. Low-dose lithium uptake promotes longevity in humans and metazoans. Eur J Nutr. 2011 Aug;50(5):387-9. Epub 2011 Feb 8.
- Bhalla P, Dhawan DK. Protective role of lithium in ameliorating the aluminium-induced oxidative stress and histological changes in rat brain. Cell Mol Neurobiol. 2009 Jun;29(4):513-21. Epub 2009 Jan 29.
- Shao L, Cui J, Young LT, Wang JF. The effect of mood stabilizer lithium on expression and activity of glutathione s-transferase isoenzymes. Neuroscience. 2008 Jan 24;151(2):518-24. Epub 2007 Nov 13.