Lyme Disease Research Database Independent reporting on all aspects of Lyme Disease

Lithium as treatment for Lyme-related depression

Tracy writes:

I would like to find research on lithium as a supplement for Lyme disease. I noticed in one of your posts that you took this your first year.

Both my LLMD and naturopath are in support of supplementing with it. It's helped me personally.  I wonder if you have any research to suggest?  I would like to share it with others to consider as an alternative to discuss with their medical professionals, but it seems without the research proof people are questioning it. (Perhaps as an alternative say, to Xanathx and Klonopin which cause detox stress on the body while we need instead to focus on clearing the Lyme bugs and neurotoxins.)

I hope you can provide info or suggestion where to further my research.

Dear Tracy, Thank you for your question.

I remember sitting in my naturopath’s office in agonizing pain, trying to follow his advice through my brain-fog. When he suggested lithium, my naturally cautious nature kicked in. “What is it?” I asked. He said, “it’s a mineral.”

In my miserable state though, lithium sounded to me vaguely sinister, like something out of an old Dracula flick, the mug of steaming potion given to the victims to keep them docile. Even worse, I knew that lithium was somehow associated with psychotic episodes and depression. Did this nice doctor simply think I was just losing it?

I’d told him about the phone that wouldn’t stop ringing, about hearing my dead father saying my name. I had told him that I couldn’t make heads or tails of any paragraph I tried to read, and that recently, I had remained in the same position in the same chair from sun up to sundown, because I could not decide what to do. (I confided that I thought maybe I’d died, and just hadn’t figured that out yet.)  Depressed? I think any formerly healthy person who wakes up to find they can’t walk, talk, or think is entitled to a little depression. But I wasn’t sure whether taking lithium would firmly secure my insanity, or help me get through it.

With considerable relief, I can report that it helped me through the toughest time in my life. It is also inexpensive as I recall, and I didn’t find it at all addicting. I’m glad it’s also helped you.

Your point is well-taken that without the supporting research, there is reason to doubt claims. Fortunately for those who want more information about the use of lithium, there is plenty of science behind it. In my opinion it is not without risks and benefits, like other drugs, and should only be prescribed by a doctor. In future posts please watch for an interview with my naturopath, whom I have asked to share what he knows and point to further research. Here, for starters:

From an article in the Harvard Review of Psychiatry, 2002:

The special usefulness of lithium lies in long-term prevention of recurrences of mania and bipolar depression and in reducing risk of suicidal behavior. Lithium also may be beneficial in recurrent unipolar depression and is an effective adjunct for treatment-resistant depression.

Reference:
Harvard Review of Psychiatry, 2002, Vol. 10, No. 2 : Pages 59-75

Is Lithium Still Worth Using? An Update of Selected Recent Research
Ross J. Baldessarini, Leonardo Tondo, John Hennen and ,Adele C. Viguera
(doi: 10.1080/hrp.10.2.59.75)

And here are three articles from the British Journal of Psychiatry:

Lithium in Bipolar Mood Disorder

Monitoring Patients on Lithium

Use of antipsychotic drugs and lithium in mania


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