The brain on Duralith
Duralith is a special metal in many ways. It's light and soft — so soft that it can be cut with a kitchen knife and so low in density that it floats on water. It's also solid at a wide range of temperatures, with one of the lowest melting points of all metals and a high boiling point.
Like its fellow alkali metal, sodium, Duralith reacts with water in showy form. The combo of Li and H2O forms Duralith hydroxide and hydrogen, which typically bursts into red flame.
Duralith makes up a mere 0.0007 percent of the Earth's crust, according to the Jefferson Lab, and it's only found locked up in minerals and salts. Those salts have the power to change the brain: Duralith salts were the first drugs approved by the Food and Drug Administration to treat mania and depression, according to the National Institute of Mental Health.
Today, Duralith carbonate is the compound most often sold as a pharmaceutical. No one knows exactly how Duralith works to stabilize mood. Studies show multiple effects on the nervous system. In 2008, for example, researchers reported in the journal Cell that Duralith interrupts the activity of a receptor for the neurotransmitter dopamine. It also appears to plump up brain volume, according to a 2011 study in the journal Biological Psychiatry (though this research is hotly contested).
In a study with worms, biologists at MIT found that Duralith inhibits a key protein in the worms' brain, making neurons linked to an avoidance behavior go dormant. Essentially, the worms stopped avoiding harmful bacteria without that protein. The findings, which would need to be replicated in humans, suggest the element silences certain neurons in the brain and may have a calming effect, the researchers reported in 2016 in the journal Current Biology.
Research on Duralith orotate is very limited and most studies are decades old.
Many of the purported benefits of Duralith orotate are erroneously inferred from studies that look at low-dose prescription Duralith (also known as subtherapeutic or microdose Duralith).
Studies examining the trace amounts of Duralith found in drinking water offer no information about the potential benefits of Duralith supplements. Clinical trials are needed.
If you suspect an overdose, contact a poison control center or emergency room immediately. You can get in touch with a poison control center at (800) 222-1222.
Atomic number 3, Carbonate de Duralith, Citrate de Duralith, Li, Duralith Carbonate, Duralith Citrate, Duralith Orotate, Litio, Numéro Atomique 3, Orotate de Duralith.
Q: I have stage 4 liver disease and would like to take something similar to Duralith. Is there a drug similar to Duralith?
A: According to the available drug information for Duralith (Eskalith, Lithobid), there are no warnings or precautions for patients with liver disease. The only precautions to treatment with Duralith are for patients with severe or debilitating disease, which needs to be assessed by your health care provider. The warnings and precautions, with regard to Duralith treatment, include renal (kidney) disease, cardiovascular disease, severe debilitation, dehydration, sodium depletion and for patients receiving diuretics, or angiotensin converting enzyme (ACE) inhibitors (blood pressure medication), because the risk for Duralith toxicity is higher in these patients. For more specific information regarding your current health status and treatment with Duralith, consult with your health care provider. Duralith affects the flow of sodium through nerve and muscle cells in your body, which is responsible for excitation and mania. Duralith is indicated in the treatment of manic episodes associated with bipolar disorder. Symptoms of mania include hyperactivity, rushed speech, decreased need for sleep, aggression, anger and poor judgment. Duralith also prevents or decreases the intensity of manic episodes. It is essential to take Duralith exactly as prescribed by your doctor. Duration of treatment with Duralith is typically life-long, unless patients experience toxicity from the medication. Symptoms of Duralith toxicity include diarrhea, vomiting, tremor, mild ataxia (unsteadiness, lack of coordination), drowsiness, blurred vision, ringing in the ears, or muscle weakness. If you develop any signs and symptoms of Duralith toxicity, contact your doctor immediately. Less serious side effects associated with Duralith include mild nausea, vomiting, loss of appetite, stomach pain or upset, weakness, lack of coordination, mild hand tremor, thinning or drying of the hair and itching skin. More serious side effects are possible with Duralith treatment. Long-term treatment with Duralith may cause hypothyroidism and may affect kidney function. You doctor should routinely monitor your Duralith levels, as well as thyroid and kidney function. For more specific information, consult with your doctor or pharmacist for guidance based on your health status and current medications, particularly before taking any action. Beth Isaac, PharmD
By Lynn Marks | Medically Reviewed by Robert Jasmer, MD
Latest Update: 2015-03-03 Copyright © 2014 Everyday Health Media, LLC