Previous studies in both animals and humans have shown evidence for the benefit of lithium in acute brain injury (such as stroke) and in chronic brain disease (like Parkinson’s disease, Alzheimer’s disease and Huntington’s disease.) Brain injury from lack of oxygen was reduced in rats by 56% when they were pre-treated with lithium.
Recent research has shown that neurogenesis (the growth of new brain cells) is possible throughout life. Aging, chronic depression, opiates and chronic stress-induced hormones have been shown to reduce the brain’s size.
Factors other than lithium that promote adult brain neurogenesis are learning tasks, an enriched environment, physical exercise, and neurotransmitters (serotonin, dopamine and noradrenalin) and hormones (estrogen and dehydroepiandrosterone, also known as DHEA.)
Lithium has been shown to increase the amount of gray matter of the brain and has properties that protect cell cultures from injury. The treatment with lithium has to be long term and the effects of lithium don’t reverse immediately on discontinuation of lithium.
Lithium in manic-depressive disease has been shown to increase the gray matter of patients. Lithium increases the levels of N-acetyl-aspartate, a chemical that indicates general cell health.
CONCLUSION: Lithium is a mineral that has neuro-protective properties for the brain in both acute and chronic disease. Lithium has been shown to increase gray matter in the brain and is a standard treatment for bipolar brain disease (manic-depression.)
NOTE: Lithium prevents brain damage from irradiation.
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