Lithium. Yes, the Lithium in the periodic table and the satanic eyes of the Duracell bunny.
But as a drug for humans - lithium’s got a bit of a bad rep.
In the 50s, scientists discovered it helped treat mood disorders like depression, and it became widely used in the 60s & 70s. Problem was, the recommended doses at the time were way higher than they needed to be, so, many patients had all kinds of bad side effects. Hence the bad rep. The 60’s - not such a great time for mental healthcare in America!
But decades of research is now piling up to show that lithium may actually be a good guy after all… call it... the Danny Zuco of drugs.
Sorry I don’t have a more modern pop cultural reference.
In a meta-analysis - so, a study of studies, often considered the gold standard of scientific studies (quick side note - for more intel on how to better understand scientific studies, check out this vid up here).
Anyway! A meta-analysis of dozens of lithium studies over dozens of years found an association between lithium in the drinking water and low rates of suicide, homicide, mortality and crime.
It’s like having lithium in your water is the same as having batman in your neighborhood - the neighborhood becomes a lot safer and happier.
No, this vid is not sponsored by Lithium. There’s been some studies that didn’t find a connection between lithium and suicide, for example, a Danish study in 2017 couldn’t confirm the link. And we still don’t know exactly how lithium works to protect the brain, only that it may promote normal cell function in neurons that secrete neurotransmitters like dopamine, epinephrine, and help brain cell connections remodel themselves - basically lithium may protect brain cells and keep them healthy.
But the body of science we do have is suggesting that right now we could be sitting on a cheap, effective way of lowering suicide rates and making communities healthier. If lithium is able to lower depression, suicide, homicide, crime, and death rates - why isn’t everyone researching lithium?
Well, 3 reasons:
Pharma companies aren't interested - its a generic drug, so they can’t trademark it, or make money off it.
It’s Difficult to market directly to consumers, because of all that bad PR.
Because of the bad PR, there’s not many researchers or funding bodies, who want to award money to study it.
Now, look - I may seem very pro-lithium. But don’t worry, I’m just pro science.
You’re not going to catch me tainting the water supply with Li3 anytime soon…. Although now that I mention it… we do add fluoride to our drinking water, iodine to salt, and vitamins to our cereal. We add those things because they make the entire community healthier.
I want to see a lot more investment in researching lithium in drinking water. If it can save thousands of lives, its worth looking into.
But what do you guys think?If lithium is as good as it sounds, should we be adding it to the public water supply? Let us know, in the comments below.
Rates of death: https://www.cdc.gov/nchs/data/nvsr/nvsr66/nvsr66_06.pdf
NIH: Recent meta-analyses confirm the benefits of maintenance lithium treatment and show that it reduces suicide and suicidality
Lithium in the UK:
History of Lithium:
This video is shot and edited by Brandon Palmieri.
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