Lithium Side Effects: What You Need to Know to Protect Yourself

Dr. Group
by Dr. Edward Group DC, NP, DACBN, DCBCN, DABFM
Published on , Last Updated on

Like any medicine or substance in the natural world, awareness and care must be taken when taking herbal and mineral supplements. Lithium orotate is an extremely powerful naturally-occurring chemical, and therefore one must be educated as to the possible side effects of taking it. While we should be aware of these side effects, they are not usually common, and can also be controlled through serving size.

Serving Size: Common servings of lithium range from 120mg to 450 mg. Lithium orotate requires a lower amount. It is recommended to start with a low amount, and to slowly monitor any side effects before increasing the serving size. What is more, side effects tend to disappear with sustained use of lithium orotate, and reputable sources state that side effects tend to be minimal, and are rarely a cause to discontinue to the use of the substance.

Possible Side Effects of Lithium Orotate

Lithium side effects may include, but are not limited to: hand tremors, nervous tics, frequent urination, excessive thirst and/or nausea, sensations of apathy, diarrhea, vomiting, stomach irritation and general loss of appetite.

Mood changes: Lithium is a mood stabilizing agent, and therefore, any changes in mood should be monitored.

In extreme circumstances, drowsiness, muscular weakness, poor coordination, ringing in the ears. and/or blurred vision. Patients with bipolar illness may also experience weight gain, mental sluggishness, problems with memory, or the development of skin conditions, such as psoriasis and acne.

Blood poisoning is also a big concern with lithium, but is more likely in prescribed brands than in over-the-counter lithium orotate. Prescribed brands have higher amounts of the drug in each serving, and are usually not in the form of orotate, meaning that the absorption rate is low, and therefore higher levels of lithium are needed to offer the desired effect. In this sense, lithium orotate is much safer than offer forms of lithium because they are not as concentrated.

Because of the possibility of blood toxicity, consult a health practitioner before taking lithium. Similarly, it is usually recommended that one should have their blood drawn regularly to monitor lithium levels in the blood stream. Plasma concentrations below .5-.6 mEg/l show little side effects. Concentrations from 1.0 onward usually lead to more intense side effects, and levels above 2.0 can even be fatal.

If taking lithium for an extended period of time, one should be aware of the possibility of developing hypothyroidism, a condition where thyroid functioning is impaired. Again, this is more the case when taking non-orotate forms of lithium, due to absorption capacities.

Avoid taking lithium orotate completely if:

  • You have a prescribed mental imbalance such as bipolar disorder or schizophrenia. In these cases, first consult with your health care provider for more information.
  • You are pregnant or nursing.
  • You have renal or cardiovascular diseases.
  • You suffer from severe dehydration or exhaustion.
  • You have recently experienced sodium depletion.
  • You are taking diuretics or ACE inhibitors.
  • You have Addison’s disease or any form of kidney disease

Dealing with Lithium Side Effects

Frequent urination can be remedied by taking lithium only once, as opposed to several times throughout the day. If you experience excess thirst, drinking more water can help. Stomach irritation can be remedied by only taking lithium after meals. Stay very hydrated while taking lithium. Avoid taking other medications that dehydrate the body, such as ibuprofen.

†Results may vary. Information and statements made are for education purposes and are not intended to replace the advice of your doctor. Global Healing Center does not dispense medical advice, prescribe, or diagnose illness. The views and nutritional advice expressed by Global Healing Center are not intended to be a substitute for conventional medical service. If you have a severe medical condition or health concern, see your physician.

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