Warning: Lithium Orotate may have drug interactions. Please see below.
Directions: Recommended to take with food. Do not use if you are pregnant/breastfeeding. Extremely rare side effects may include allergic reactions. Consult a doctor prior to using. By using our products, you agree to our terms & conditions.
Lithium Orotate is an orotic salt combined with the trace element, lithium. Lithium is found naturally within all biological beings and has been suggested to have a potential role in longevity and brain modulation. As a medication, several salt forms of lithium have been used to treat bipolar depression, depression and mania. The orotate form has not been approved as a medication but can be obtained legally over the counter as a supplement within the United States. It has also been investigated as a possible Alzheimer’s treatment.
Mechanism of Action
Lithium is bound to the salt of orotic acid, which is the mineral carrier of this substance. Orotate is an excellent mineral carrier and is often bound to carry a variety nutrients such as magnesium and potassium to create a highly bioavailable version of the supplement. Theoretically, binding lithium to orotate, may have similar effects on bioavailability.
In the brain, lithium has a variety of functions. It exerts its effects on the central nervous system and controls a variety of neurotransmitters and receptors. At this time, the exact mechanisms lithium may have on the brain and to mood is unknown. It has no psychoactive effects at therapeutic concentrations and produces no euphoria.
Research has suggested lithium orotate to have potential effects on serotonin concentrations. Serotonin is a neurotransmitter relating to mood, and some cognitive functions such as learning & memory. It is believed that lithium and carriers alike, alter the release of serotonin from neurons within the brain. This could explain potential effects on mood stabilization, memory and learning.
Other research suggests that lithium orotate suppresses the release of excitatory neurotransmitters such as glutamate, dopamine and norepinephrine. It has been suggested that GABA inhibitory neurotransmission is increased with lithium supplementation. This research makes sense considering glutamatergic and dopaminergic activity is thought to be increased during manic and bipolar-depressive episodes.
Lithium has been suggested to be neuroprotective. During periods of mania and depression-induced emotions, large levels of glutamate and monoamine neurotransmitters may be released leading to possible excitotoxic reactions. This mineral may reduce excitotoxicity induced by mania and depressive episodes by modulation of glutamate receptors through primary or secondary messengers.
The way lithium orotate may modulate these neurotransmitters in different parts of the brain is certainly complex. It has been suggested that secondary messenger modulation plays a major role in lithium orotates’ effects. The secondary messenger, cAMP may be affected by lithium through modulation of G-coupled proteins. As a secondary messenger, cAMP has a variety of different effects on neurotransmitters and hormones. Modulation of cAMP by lithium orotate could certainly be a viable mechanism.
There have been several promising studies involving lithium on mood and brain functions. Unfortunately, the orotate form has not been studied as intensely as prescription forms of lithium due to a variety of reasons. The carbonate form has taken over as a staple in the medical market, thus leading the orotate version to be obsolete to researchers. Patents are another major reason this supplement has not been researched since the 80’s.
Regardless of limited study, lithium orotate may have some potential positives as a supplement. It may be a mood stabilizer, anxiolytic, panic-reducer and nootropic. No claims can be made about this; however, some doctors have claimed the orotate form of lithium is more bioavailable leading to higher concentrations in the brain at lower dosages. Hence, the theory is that results can be achieved with lower dosages of lithium supplementation. It is theorized that this lower dosage of the orotate form can reduce side effects associated with high dosages of lithium within the body. These claims have not been verified or confirmed by the FDA.
Safety & Side Effects
Lithium orotate is indeed an over-the-counter supplement. Although unlikely, it could have the same or similar side effects as the prescription form. It is completely possible that lithium orotate may have side effects similar to prescription forms even in low dosages. Here is a list of some of the most common side effects observed with the carbonate version:
- Excessive Thirst
- Frequent Urination
Some more serious side effects such as Diabetes Insipidus and Abnormal Heart Beat have been attributed to lithium carbonate. If you experience any of these, it is recommended that you stop lithium orotate supplementation and consult a doctor immediately. While it is entirely possible that these side effects are much less in the orotate version, it is still possible to have negative reactions. Taking a higher dosage than recommended, will increase these risks. Start small and evaluate your reaction in low dosages before increasing.
Potential Drug Reactions
Lithium orotate should not be combined if you are taking anti-depressants. Combining it with anti-depressants like SSRI’s and MAOI’s may increase the possibility of serotonin syndrome. This is a result of too much serotonin in the body. Side effects can include: agitation, restlessness, diarrhea, confusion, dilated pupils, twitching, loss of coordination, loss of muscle contraction, shivering, seizures and even death. It is unclear as to whether serotonin syndrome or other drug interactions take place with the orotate version but caution is still advised.
Serotonin syndrome could be potentially life threatening, so you should always clear it with a medical professional before combining lithium orotate. Even combining cough syrup containing DXM can be moderately dangerous as it also alters serotonin levels.
Combining lithium orotate with other substances or drugs could cause a burden on the kidneys. This danger increases with higher dosages. You should make sure that you do not combine with drugs that are known to burden the liver or kidneys when taking this supplement. You should also have your kidneys and serum lithium levels checked before using this supplement.
Certain blood pressure medications could cause interactions with lithium orotate. Be careful when using blood pressure medications like ACE inhibitors with lithium. These medications can alter blood levels of lithium and using the two together could create potential toxicity.
In general, it is best to get your doctor’s advice before supplementing lithium orotate with any major medication or OTC supplement. It is best to be fully advised of all the limitations of this supplement. Never combine anything before understanding the potential hazards of doing so.