That's one large with a twist of the lith, please.
May 1, 2009 10:31 AM   Subscribe

A Japanese study finds a link between lower suicide rates and traces of lithium in the drinking water. While the study's findings are "intriguing", external relations director Sophie Corlett of Mind warns that lithium is toxic, and that further research is needed.
posted by joseph conrad is fully awesome (17 comments total) 2 users marked this as a favorite
That, and water laced with lituium tastes gross. I've tasted some from Ashland, Oregon, though I wasn't trying it as a scientific study, but more of a dare.
posted by filthy light thief at 10:42 AM on May 1, 2009 [2 favorites]

A link to the abstract from The British Journal of Psychiatry (2009) 194: 466.
posted by joseph conrad is fully awesome at 10:45 AM on May 1, 2009

I've tasted some from Ashland, Oregon

Hoo, yes, that shit is narsty.
posted by everichon at 10:56 AM on May 1, 2009

Isn't the natural lithium in deep Texas well water what led to the discovery of lithium's usefulness as a psychiatric drug in the first place?
posted by hattifattener at 11:11 AM on May 1, 2009 [3 favorites]

I won't try anything that might make Scotty eye me as a possible fuel source.
posted by Astro Zombie at 11:17 AM on May 1, 2009 [1 favorite]

Yeeah yeeaaaaaah yeeaah.
posted by nasreddin at 11:25 AM on May 1, 2009 [2 favorites]

There's a Kurt Cobain joke in here somewhere, but I can't quite put it together.
posted by ZenMasterThis at 11:32 AM on May 1, 2009

reminds me of a steven king short story.
posted by fuzzypantalones at 11:36 AM on May 1, 2009

Lithium is a chemical cognate of Magnesium, which has been drastically reduced in human diets due to soil depletion.
posted by norabarnacl3 at 12:01 PM on May 1, 2009

Miracle drug. No kidding.
posted by Roach at 12:12 PM on May 1, 2009

Yay! Parepin!
posted by hippybear at 12:32 PM on May 1, 2009 [2 favorites]

norabarnacl3, I wouldn't call lithium a "chemical cognate" of magnesium. They're both metals, and they both form cations in ionic salts, but much of their chemistry (and particularly their biochemistry) is different. Much of that due to the ionic size and charge differences. Lithium is toxic in fairly lw doses, for example, whereas we have a high tolerance (and need) for magnesium in our diets.

Interesting thought about the reduced magnesium in human diets, though. A quick google suggests that 12% of pregnant women are dealing with hypomagnesemia, though some of that could be induced by hormonal shifts in pregnancy.

I don't doubt there has been soil depletion, too. I also suspect that magnesium reduction in human diets also has a lot to do with generally lowered intake of green, leafy vegetables. (Magnesium is the metal in the center of chlorophyll, similar to how iron is chelated in the center of a hemoglobin.) Also, whole grains have magnesium-rich germ, but refined grains have the germ removed. So magnesium depletion in modern diets could well be attributed in large part to the rise of fast food culture and refined grain breads.
posted by darkstar at 12:39 PM on May 1, 2009 [1 favorite]

I'm so happy 'cause today
I found my friends
They're on the web
I'm so ugly, that's okay
'Cause my webcam's down
Broke the plugs
Flash fun friday is everyday
For all I care
And I'm not scared
Post my replies, in a daze
'Cause I've found Snark

Yeah yeah yeah yeah
Yeah yeah yeah yeah
Yeah yeah yeah yeah

I'm so lonely, that's ok
I posted to
And I'm validated
And just maybe
I'm to blame for all I've heard
I'm not sure
All links point back to me
I can't wait to meetup with you
And I don't care
I'm so bored, that's okay
The joke is dead

Yeah yeah yeah yeah
Yeah yeah yeah yeah
Yeah yeah yeah yeah
posted by filthy light thief at 12:45 PM on May 1, 2009 [4 favorites]

...warns that lithium is toxic...

So are chlorine and fluoride, and we put those in on purpose.

Coming soon: New and Improved Aquafina -- Now with Lithium!

Something something precious bodily fluids.
posted by Sys Rq at 3:47 PM on May 1, 2009

I've very suspicious; the therapeutic dose of lithium varies from person to person but is around a gram, making it in the region of a thousand times greater dose per day than is in the most lithium-heavy of these waters. Lithium isn't well understood pharmacologically, but the sheer size of the difference makes me want to look for confounding factors. Probably lots of confounding factors.

Therapeutic doses of lithium are also associated with birth defects and thyroid dysfunction; are those increased in these areas as well?
posted by Coobeastie at 3:51 PM on May 1, 2009 [1 favorite]

wait, lower suicide rates? i mean, this is japan we're talking about...

that said, it's more or less plausible to think that even sub-theraputic doses (in terms of observable immediate effects) of anything that alters neurotransmitter regulation could, given constant exposure over a long period of time, alter brain chemistry. though over that large a period of time, and with something involving so many variables as suicide rate, i'm not sure i'd be inclined to have too much faith in any study pointing one way or another. even considering that, one hopes that if there are more large-scale trials, serious attention is paid to monitoring potential side effects. which goes without saying, really.

just sayin'...
posted by vellocet at 5:29 PM on May 1, 2009

ObSF: Stephen King, "The End of the Whole Mess"
posted by Chrysostom at 12:09 PM on May 4, 2009 [1 favorite]

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