It never ceases to amaze me how things that I saw years ago and ignored turn out to be of far greater interest when I actually take the time to research them. Today's example is lithium.
This morning I started by reading a new thread on the Parkinson's forum that linked to an interview with a doctor who is well known for her alternative methodology in treating Parkinson's:
One of several fascinating facts I learned was that Dr. Mischley got her start in Parkinson's research studying lithium, and she continues to believe in the important role lithium can play in improving the lives of people with neurodegenerative diseases. In fact she points to epidemiological studies showing lower incidence of neurological disorders in areas where natural lithium exists in water supplies and soil.
This got me remembering that there were some clinical trials in various ataxias that studied lithium. Those studies did not find an efficacy that met the level of benefit for which the researchers were hoping . . . BUT . . . they did find some secondary and statistically relevant effect. This brought into focus another interesting fact Dr. Mischley discussed in her interview. In the past researchers studying people with PD used a scale called UPDRS (Unified Parkinsons Disease Rating Scale) which goes from 1 to 4. If the drug being tested doesn't increase the patient by 25% it pretty much won't get a second look. Dr. Mischley therefore came up with a questionnaire that added numerous symptoms that UPDRS never examines (like constipation, level of dyskensia, etc) and ended up creating a score with 3300 points and one that was remarkably consistent in how it ranked individual patients. The important point to me was that she was saying some supplements have plenty of evidence that they are doing SOMETHING good, it's just that the something good is so small by itself as to be unnoticeable by doctors looking for big improvements. That idea is exactly the idea that underlies my own personal regimen that has kept me symptom free for the last 3 years:
Anyways, long story long, I will be adding 5 mg daily of lithium orotate to my list of supplements. Here is a tiny bit of research showing why. I would note that in the reports where doctors say they found no benefit from lithium they go on to say there WAS some effect that should be looked at more closely, especially for patients without symptoms or early symptoms:
" Small but statistically significant changes were noted in certain secondary outcome measures when those receiving lithium were compared with the placebo group; the clinical relevance of these scales is not established. In further analysis,9 the treatment group had less worsening . . ."
"Despite several positive case reports and short studies, further controlled researches have failed to substantiate any positive effects of lithium exposure in amyotrophic lateral sclerosis. In spinocerebellar ataxia, introduction of lithium may be of benefits in terms of improvement of cerebellar symptoms. Large randomized controlled trials are required to asses the effect of early exposure lithium in these indications, based on reliable biological markers of disease."