Monday, May 04, 2009

Add it to the Drinking Water

So Roy sent me the link, but he couldn't post it?
Mind Hacks tells us that where there are higher levels of naturally occurring lithium levels, the suicide rate is lower. Referring to a study in the British Journal of Psychiatry, Mind Hacks states:

"This new study suggests that even trace amounts might have an influence on the whole population level, and this is not the first time this link has been made."

What do you say, should it be pumped in?


talesofacrazypsychmajor said...

Absolutely not. Imagine the mess that would make, messing with finely tuned meds people are on suddenly having their dosage unexpectedly changed. Then suppose they hydrate more some days than others. The dosing wouldn't be consistent.

gnet said...

nice informations, thanks for sharing

Anonymous said...

Damn good and extremely thought-provoking post!

Speaking as a pharmacist (and I probably should point out that I'm not in the USA so I may be barking up the wrong tree or even in entirely the wrong forest!) - not a good idea I don't think. Even in trace amounts (however they're defined), lithium isn't necessarily a benign agent. It's very effective for mood disorders and several other conditions, providing it's used properly. Levels would fluctuate, interactions could occur, as could adverse events - depending on how things were done. What happens when someone goes into or comes out of the "augmented" water area?

And from an ethical point of view - what about informed consent? - and the ethics of treating a whole population (with the associated risks of using a potentially toxic if not used correctly substance) in an attempt to change the outcome for only a few individuals? Yes, suicide is a significant issue (you should see our male suicide rates in NZ) - wouldn't it make more sense to see if we can get better at predicting which individuals in a given population are at risk and tackling things that way?

My gut feeling - don't go for the scattergun approach but target those at risk and do so effectively.

Anonymous said...

um, no?! i foresee a lot of kidney damage, with a bit of thyroid mess tossed in for flavor.

Not to mention what an ethical disaster even the thought is.

Retriever said...

Don't do it. Haven't you read your Walker Percy "Love in the Ruins"???

However, there are several health resorts in Europe famous for their waters for hundreds of years, some of which contain lithium I believe. The key thing is choice, and knowing what you are trying to do. VIchy water, for example, has been famous for hundreds of years and contained 3.5 mg of lithium per liter. People didn't go to a spa in those days for a long weekend as now. It would be people going for a month or two, during which time whatever was in the waters could take effect. And these low doses were helpful for people who were "normal", tho obviously wouldn't have helped enough for the manic or acutely depressed.

mindful said...

How about, let the consumer choose. Given the rise of bottled vitamin water and smart water, perhaps lithium water could be the next enhanced water. Just think of the marketing angles.

tracy said...

Yes! My thought exactly...bottled water!

Roy said...

Lithium in bottled water? Old news.

nardilfan said...

Maybe it's just that lithium is one of the trace elements we need for our bodies to work properly, and unless we live in an area where it's present in the water, we're at risk of symptoms of lithium deficiency.


You never know - all this mental illness might just be psychiatric rickets!

(Seriously, I wouldn't want it in the water. It would mess with my phenelzine no end, I bet)

Anonymous said...

Based on a correlation?
Umm, prolly not.

Allow it in bottled/non-public water?

(Also I don't think the intent is "to change the outcome for only a few individuals"...)

chris said...

Its almost criminal it isn't in water.

Also, for the people saying it will cause interactions/push people into Li toxicity, etc: the amounts taken in would be quite small compared to pharmaceutically used doses. The 'high' level was ~.3mg/day at average water intake.

BG said...

Without weighing in on the merits of adding lithium to the water, the informed consent issue doesn't make sense to me. We add fluoride to water all the time.