Friday, December 14, 2012

Does Lithium Orotate work for Bipolar Disorder?

It continues to puzzle me as to why doctors don't prescribe lithium orotate.

Sure, it's not like lithium carbonate.  It doesn't cause any sustained increase in serum level.  It also is not a prescription.

However, it works, and not just for me.  If you read the reviews, you'll see that many people find it helpful for mood swings, anxiety, and depression.

How does it work for me? Well, it makes me less moody. It also prevents mania. I experience the same therapeutic effect that I had from lithium carbonate, minus the side effect of tremor.

I recently tried to increase the dose from 4 pills a day to 5.  It made me too thirsty, so I reduced it back to 4.

This thirst is the first definitive side effect I've experienced from it.  What's interesting about the thirst side effect, is that it didn't happen immediately after taking the pills, but rather much later in the day.  So it seems that even though the blood level is not measurable, there is some long lasting effect from the lithium orotate.

Anyway, I'm not advocating Lithium Orotate, but just wondering how come such a seemingly effective medication is ignored by mainstream psychiatry.

Friday, September 7, 2012

Lithium Orotate Blood Level Test

Good news here!

After taking lithium orotate for about 6 years, I finally got a lithium blood level test done.  I got health insurance and during my physical I told my doctor about taking lithium orotate and asked for a lithium test and a kidneys function test. She thought that was a good idea and also did a thyroid (TSH) test.  My doctor didn't know that this form of lithium was available over the counter as a supplement.

So, my results are in, and my lithium level is <0 .1, with the standard reference range between  0.6-1.2mmol.  I take 4 pills of the Doctor's Best Lithium Ororate, in a split dose (2 in the morning, 2 at night), which comes out to 20mg of elemental lithium.  This low result is pretty much what I expected from doing research online. For some reason, lithium orotate does not stay in the blood, but rather goes into the cells.  This inability to read a lithium level makes some doctors think it doesn't work, but from my personal experience, I can sure tell you it does work for me.

In fact, it has fewer side effects..  The prescription form, lithium carbonate, causes a hand tremor that lithium orotate doesn't cause.  Lithium orotate might have the same thirst side effect - I do get thirsty often and do drink a lot of water - but can't really say for sure whether that's from the lithium orotate or whether that's just me.  It might also cause weight gain - although my weight gain is just as likely from genetics or eating habits or normal aging. So I'm not completely sure that the lithium orotate has any side effects.

The other blood tests I had done all came out normal. Normal metabolic panel, normal O TSH Reflex FT4, normal O CBC with Diff.  So it appears that the lithium is not harming my kidneys, liver, or thyroid.

By the way, the blood test was done about 3 hours after taking my morning lithium dose.  And I've been on the same dose for years.  I may consider raising it.. sometimes I feel that I could use a bit more therapeutic effect.  But not having many scientific studies, it's hard to know what the best dose is.

For more information about the importance of the lithium blood level test, check out this excellent explanation by Dr Phelps: Please explain the therapeutic range level of lithium and it's significance for  management of the illness.    (Dr. Phelps also has an excellent website on Bipolar II:

Saturday, July 7, 2012

No Perfect Drug or Medicine for Bipolar

I woke up yesterday feeling great.  I slept well. I felt happy. I had inner calm.  

I went to the grocery store.  I was clear headed.  I remembered to buy everything on my list.  I wasn't scattered.

My brain felt at 100%...... Bipolar was gone for the day.  My thinking was fast and clear.  My mood was great.

I wasn't depressed.  I wasn't hypomanic.  So I began to think, how could I recreate this mental state, so that I could have it every day?  What supplement did I take?  What did I do differently?

Nothing......  There is no perfect drug that can bring you 100% days every day.  But there are some that may help you get closer to 100% more often.   If you get a great day, enjoy it, and try to remember it when you are depressed.

Thursday, May 3, 2012

Back from vacation: Taking Pills on the Plane

I had a ton of pre-trip anxiety, and now that my vacation is over with, so is my anxiety.

One of the things I was really anxious about was taking my medicine through airport security.  So I decided to mail my meds to my sister so that I wouldn't have to take them through security.  Even though you are allowed to take medicine through airport security (even unmarked, such as in a pill organizer), I was still nervous that they would cause a problem for me.

So I mailed them to my sister, and I asked her to bring them to the airport when she picked me up.  That worked out fine. I was also nervous that she was going to say something to me about all of these meds I take.... I was having plenty of irrational thoughts.

Irrational thought: She would think bad of me for taking all of these meds.

I tried to replace it with the rational thought: She would be glad to see me and happy that the medicine works for me.

One thing I did not plan for was that my airplane was late and I missed my connecting flight, so I was at the airport for 5 hours.  So I didn't have my morning meds to take on time, but as soon as I did arrive, I took my lithium and I felt fine.  So, in retrospect, it may have been better to have the meds with me... but I did the best thing for my nerves.

Sunrise, as seen from airplane, during red-eye flight.

On the way home, I still had some of the meds that I mailed her, and I brought them through airport security without any problem.  They did rescan one of my bags when the X-ray machine beeped, and the TSA agent thought something was funny (I don't know what.. I didn't have anything funny in my bag!), but it was fine.  The TSA agents were actually quite nice and relaxed.

By the way, I had a terrific vacation!  My mood was good the whole time!  I got to see my family and it was so wonderful. I just wish I didn't have so much pre-trip anxiety.

Wednesday, May 2, 2012

Stop lithium to see if I really am still crazy

That's a crazy thought.

I'm sure anyone who's on psych meds has had it.... Maybe if I stop taking them I'll be able to handle it.. Maybe I'll have more inspiration.. Maybe I'm not sick anymore.. Do I really need them?

Today, as I was refilling my pill box, I was thinking about which pills I need the most, and that turned into my wondering what would happen if I did lower the lithium.....

But I've been there, done that.  The lithium makes my life so much easier.  So much better.  Less arguements, less turmoil, less crisis.

And so, I do stockpile my lithium, and I rarely miss a dose.  With it, my life is better.....

Tuesday, April 24, 2012

Bipolar Forum for Asking Questions Anonymously

Today I came across the Reddit forum for Bipolar Disorder.  I'm not currently a member of Reddit, but recently I've enjoyed browsing and was surprised to find the Bipolar subtopic.   It looks like an ideal place to get support.

By the way, if you are ever in a bad mood and need something to distract yourself for awhile, try browsing the Reddit homepage, or maybe the funny category.  It helps me stay distracted when I'm in one of those blah moods.

Sunday, April 1, 2012

There's always going to be something to worry about.

On my good days, I just don't worry about it.  Who me, worry?  Nah, I don't worry.

On my bad days, I can get really worked up worrying.

Then one worry gets resolved, and there's another one lined up waiting to take its place.