Lithium gets its name from "lithos," the Greek word for stone, because it is present in trace amounts in virtually all rocks. It might help mental disorders by increasing the activity of chemical messengers in the brain. Lithium might also be needed for other functions, like the development of blood cells.
People use lithium supplements for alcohol use disorder, Alzheimer disease, depression, and many other conditions, but there is no good scientific evidence to support any of these uses.
Lithium carbonate and lithium citrate are approved by the U.S. FDA as prescription drugs for bipolar disorder. These and other lithium drugs aren't covered in this topic. Lithium supplements contain much lower doses of lithium than drugs.
Uses & Effectiveness
We currently have no information for LITHIUM overview.
Special Precautions and Warnings
Breast-feeding: Lithium is likely unsafe to use while breast-feeding. Lithium can enter breast milk and cause unwanted side effects in a nursing infant. It should only be used in very rare circumstances with close monitoring by a healthcare provider.
Children: Lithium citrate and lithium carbonate are possibly safe when used appropriately under the supervision of a healthcare professional in children 7 years and older. There isn't enough reliable information available to know if lithium supplements are safe to use in children or what the side effects might be.
Brugada syndrome: Lithium shouldn't be used in people who have Brugada syndrome or those who have a history of abnormal ECG readings. Also, stop taking lithium and contact your doctor if you start feeling faint or have changes in heartbeat.
Dehydration: Lithium can make dehydration worse. If you are dehydrated or have low salt levels you might need to change your lithium dose. Talk to your doctor.
Elderly individuals: Older age, other illnesses, and use of many medications makes it more likely that someone will have serious lithium side effects.
Heart disease: Lithium may cause irregular heart rhythms. This may be a problem, especially for people who have heart disease.
Kidney disease: Lithium is removed from the body by the kidneys. In people with kidney disease, the amount of lithium that is given might need to be reduced.
Low sodium levels: Lithium can lower the level of salt in the blood. If you already have low levels of salt in the blood, use lithium with caution.
Surgery: Lithium might interfere with surgical procedures that involve anesthesia and other drugs that affect the central nervous system. Lithium supplements should be stopped, with the approval of a healthcare provider, at least two weeks before a scheduled surgery.
Thyroid disease: Lithium might make thyroid problems worse. Make sure to have your thyroid function tested regularly.
Water pills (Diuretic drugs) interacts with LITHIUM
Some "water pills" can increase how much sodium the body gets rid of in the urine. Decreasing sodium in the body can increase lithium levels in the body and increase the effects and side effects of lithium.
Serotonergic drugs interacts with LITHIUM
Lithium might increase a brain chemical called serotonin. Some medications also have this effect. Taking lithium along with these medications might increase serotonin too much. This might cause serious side effects including heart problems, seizures, and vomiting.
Do not take this combination
Medications for high blood pressure (ACE inhibitors) interacts with LITHIUM
Some medications for high blood pressure can increase lithium levels in the body. Taking lithium along with some medications for high blood pressure might increase lithium levels too much.
Medications for high blood pressure (Calcium channel blockers) interacts with LITHIUM
Lithium is commonly used to help fix chemical imbalances in the brain. Some medications for high blood pressure might increase the side effects of lithium, and decrease the amount of lithium in the body.
Medications used to prevent seizures (Anticonvulsants) interacts with LITHIUM
Medications used to prevent seizures affect chemicals in the brain. Lithium is commonly used to help fix chemical imbalances in the brain. Taking lithium along with some medications used for seizures might increase the side effects of lithium.
Methyldopa (Aldomet) interacts with LITHIUM
Taking methyldopa might increase the effects and side effects of lithium. Do not take lithium if you are taking methyldopa unless it is prescribed by your healthcare provider.
Methylxanthines interacts with LITHIUM
Taking methylxanthines can increase how quickly the body gets rid of lithium. This could decrease how well lithium works. Methylxanthines include aminophylline, caffeine, and theophylline.
Muscle relaxants interacts with LITHIUM
Lithium might increase how long muscle relaxants work. Taking lithium along with muscle relaxants might increase the effects and side effects of muscle relaxants.
NSAIDs (Nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs) interacts with LITHIUM
NSAIDs might increase lithium levels in the body. Taking lithium along with NSAIDs might increase the risk of lithium side effects. Avoid taking lithium supplements and NSAIDs at the same time.
Phenothiazines interacts with LITHIUM
Taking phenothiazines along with lithium might decrease the effects of lithium. Lithium might also decrease the effects of phenothiazines.
Medications for mental conditions (Antipsychotic drugs) interacts with LITHIUM
Taking lithium with antipsychotic drugs might cause some severe symptoms, including brain damage. Do not take lithium without your healthcare provider's knowledge if you are using antipsychotic drugs.
Be cautious with this combination
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CONDITIONS OF USE AND IMPORTANT INFORMATION: This information is meant to supplement, not replace advice from your doctor or healthcare provider and is not meant to cover all possible uses, precautions, interactions or adverse effects. This information may not fit your specific health circumstances. Never delay or disregard seeking professional medical advice from your doctor or other qualified health care provider because of something you have read on WebMD. You should always speak with your doctor or health care professional before you start, stop, or change any prescribed part of your health care plan or treatment and to determine what course of therapy is right for you.
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© Therapeutic Research Faculty 2020.