The purpose of this page is to provide a public place to write about testable scientific ideas.
Many will center around lithium as an essential dietary nutrient, as little is truly known about lithium in biology. If you aren’t yet supplementing with lithium and other minerals, please see the /pills or /lithium pages first.
Table of Contents
- Human hairs as mineral storage for the lymphatic system
- Hypotheses regarding lithium
- Comments & Feedback
- Update Log
Human hairs as trace mineral storage for the lymphatic (immune) system
It is well established that certain vitamins are water-soluble, being stored in the liver and other tissues, whereas others are fat-soluble, being stored in fatty tissue. What about trace mineral storage? Are trace minerals stored equally between tissues such as the liver and bones?
Or is it possible that hairs, at least for the first few microns (if not a millimeter or more) are long-term mineral storage for the lymphatic system?
This is an obvious correlation. Humans have far less hair on our skin than do other primates. But where do we have more hair? Around the head, genitals, armpits, and lower legs (calves). These are all areas with high lymphatic system usage: the brain is “cleaned,” in a sense, by the lymphatic system during sleep; the armpits and genitals have concentrations of lymph nodes nearby, and the calves developed as a major lymphatic “pump” for that system.
Hypotheses regarding lithium
Lithium and food cravings
Personally, I have experienced far fewer food cravings (already rare for me) and more self-control after beginning lithium supplementation.
As lithium is strongly involved in neurological development, on-and-off lithium deficiency would explain the intense (and seemingly random) food cravings of pregnant mothers. Why? Their bodies crave the extra lithium necessary for the rapidly developing neurons of the fetus. For whatever reason in the mother’s past, the brain associated X food with Y mineral (and thanks to our modern food concoctions, this food ‘instinct/pairing’, if you will, goes haywire). Capers. Chocolate. That one wine. It doesn’t matter: the food got paired with “high in lithium” somewhere in their distant memory, and now that lithium is necessary in higher amounts for the pregnancy — and it’s not a well-known nutrient — the brain searches for the wildest possibilities for where to get it.
Out in the wild, with concentrated, wild foods — whether abundant or sparse — it makes sense that our brains would develop to associate “that one edible red winter berry” with a high vitamin C status in winter. And if we — and the animals we ate — were low in vitamin C, the brain might ‘trigger’ memories, and eventually cravings, of that berry. The search would begin.
But today, with such a variable food supply? Cravings are a mess. If the brain associated the high-lithium containing tomatoes you ate at a friend’s house three years ago with the overall burger they came with, the mom might crave burgers. Wrong. Or the brain might crave tomatoes: mostly right. Unfortunately, the tomatoes available locally do not have the same lithium levels as the tomatoes you ate out-of-state (and no such nutrient records are kept anyway), so the brain thinks that tomatoes aren’t the answer and jumps to the next wildest food possibility.
Worse still, lithium concentrations in foods remain a complete unknown.
This simultaneously could explain food cravings and morning sickness. Lithium for the food cravings, then consequences for rest of the low-quality micronutrients behind the morning sickness.
Lithium and postpartum depression
The evidence is strong regarding lithium’s relationship with depression, mood disorders, and even suicide.
Since lithium is known to be highly involved in neuronal development — required more than ever by a developing fetus/baby — it seems very reasonable that following birth, as hormone levels drop, a lithium deficiency is at least one factor in postpartum depression.
Lithium and Headaches
This is both anecdotal and hypothetical, so it’s on a separate page from the hypotheses below: /headaches.
Lithium and Obesity
In a sentence: the “missing” nutrient lithium correlates very well with worrisome obesity levels in western nations. The U.S.’s FDA ignored the recommendation to accept lithium as an essential nutrient in 2002, and obesity rates have kept rising. The following three scientific ideas “make sense” in light of lithium, among other nutrients lacking in food supplies:
- the rise of obesity in the past few decades,
- the fact that poorer Americans, with worse access to fruits and vegetables, have higher rates of obesity, and
- that no conclusive evidence exists on low-carb or low-fat for overweight/obese patients, rather, general trends support higher consumption of fruits and vegetables (containing lithium) and not processed foods (not yet fortified with lithium).
To read about the nutrient theory of obesity, see /obesity.
Lithium in food
Next to nothing is know about lithium levels in food. The one website I have seen which does have actual numbers is highly suspect and my attempts to contact the website lead me to believe it is abandoned. As such, I will not link to it.
In the future I’ll attempt to figure out what foods may contain high levels of lithium in order to avoid supplementation.
For now, I suspect that certain mineral-dense foods contain high levels of lithium, such as:
- dark chocolate
- black coffee
- dark berries
…and potentially certain alcoholic drinks:
- various wines
- certain beers
- expensive hard alcohols
…or even other common drugs:
- cigarettes/tobacco products
Again, this is only a suspicion. There are, however, studies showing that lithium supplementation helps substance abusers reduce their desire for such products, so it makes sense to me.
Lithium in water
Very little is know about lithium in municipal water supplies, and only rarely is it tracked or measured. Most Americans are not getting enough through their drinking water; check your EPA water report to find out.
It is well established that we absorb certain minerals (like magnesium) through the skin. Lithium/magnesium rich mineral baths/springs have been used by the elite and commoners alike for thousands of years. As such…
I find it highly probable that lithium exists in high concentrations in ocean water. Many regular swimmers may be absorbing up to 100% of their lithium needs by occasional ocean visits, although that is difficult to say, and I still recommend they self-experiment with supplementation before reducing to zero. I have no idea what levels of lithium, if any, rivers and lakes would have.
Is lithium as a mineral light enough to evaporate and exist in rainwater? Is this why it feels “good” to be rained on once in a while? I don’t know, but I think the idea is reasonable.
Lithium and teenage depression/aggression
As lithium’s relationship to depression is well established, and I mentioned above my thoughts regarding its potential role in postpartum depression, it likely also plays a role in teenage depression. As lithium status declines, it would be preserved in the brain in more critical, central regions, like the amygdala, reducing executive function (PFC) and increasing anxiety, aggressive thoughts/behavior, and depression.
I believe it is possible that millions of American adults begin our lithium deficiency during the teenage years, combined with puberty.
Lithium and insomnia
Both me and my partner have correlated slightly excess dosages of lithium orotate (5mg/day every day or every other day) with insomnia roughly one month following the dose.
As little is known about male hormonal (or other) cycles, I would guess that this has to do with some sort of neuronal maturation process that takes roughly one month. But that’s a rather weak guess.
Since almost nothing is know about lithium in food (see that section above), it is possible that a 5mg dose of lithium orotate every 5-10 days (avg. 0.5 – 1.0 mg/day, or 50-100% of the preliminary RDA) is excessive if the individual is already consuming sufficient lithium through food. I recommend Americans experiment based on their diet (see the /pills page).
Question: What is the relationship of the dietary mineral lithium and psychedelic drugs?
A slight lithium excess (or especially full overdose) produces effects similar to those described by psychedelics such as mushrooms, ayahuasca, LSD and similar drugs. Is the lithium ion involved in the body’s natural production of DMT? Or, is it possible that these drugs — including even alcohol, perhaps — contain lithium to some extent? Or is a lithium deficiency simply correlated with lower impulse/self control and greater desires for drugs?
Opinion: like any micronutrient, slightly elevated doses may be used, short-term, to correct deficiencies. And like other micronutrients, the higher the short-term dose, 1) the shorter time frame becomes safe, and 2) the greater the risks.
Since science is very young, both as a philosophical concept (a few thousand years), and as a modern practice (a few centures), it is understandable that science work slowly. Unfortunately, science has “missed” lithium’s essentiality for several reasons:
- Lithium deficiency came about through a slow mineral depletion in the soil. This is likely the same cause as calcium and magnesium, the latter which is slowly gaining the attention and research that it deserves.
- From the early 1900s, “lithium in biology” connotated only one thing: a prescription to treat various mental disorders. Little other research was conducted, and this, combined with the fact that most water sources were not yet deficient in lithium, meant that for several generations, the word “lithium” in a biological context was not taken seriously.
- Scientists are underfunded. The underfunding leads to go where the most money is, and if “pure” research is not funded, science will move in the direction of money. In the case of America in the 2000s, this means where Americans spend their dollars, often in the form of lobbying.
Comments & Feedback
Comments on individual pages are disabled for multiple reasons. However, I’d love your feedback:
- How should I write about and develop these ideas?
- Who can I contact to test each?
- Is an idea already well proven or disproven? Perhaps you know something I don’t, in which case you should tell me.
- What else should this page include?
Please use the /contact page. Thank you!