In this post, we are referring to the low-dose mineral supplement, Lithium Orotate,  and not the high-dose prescription, Lithium Carbonate, which is known to have many side effects. Again, this is not considered medical advice and dosing/exposure will depend on individual needs.

“Lithium is thought to help regulate the neurotransmitter glutamate by keeping the amount of glutamate between brain cells at a stable, healthy level to support healthy brain function. The mineral has been shown to be neuroprotective and to prevent neuronal cell death from free radical stress, effectively protecting neurons from glutamate-induced, NMDA receptor-mediated free radical damage in animals. In effective doses, lithium reduces neurological deficits. [3,4] In animal models, lithium was also found to promote increased cytoprotective B-cell activity. [5] Research has also found using lithium, in a long-term low-dose support, promotes healthy brain aging.[6]” https://www.orthomolecularproducts.com/assets/1/30/PDN_LithiumOrotate2.pdf

“Interestingly, lithium appears to preserve or increase the volume of brain structures involved in emotional regulation such as the prefrontal cortex, hippocampus and amygdala, possibly reflecting its neuroprotective effects. At a neuronal level, lithium reduces excitatory (dopamine and glutamate) but increases inhibitory (GABA) neurotransmission; however, these broad effects are underpinned by complex neurotransmitter systems that strive to achieve homeostasis by way of compensatory changes. For example, at an intracellular and molecular level, lithium targets second-messenger systems that further modulate neurotransmission. For instance, the effects of lithium on the adenyl cyclase and phospho-inositide pathways, as well as protein kinase C, may serve to dampen excessive excitatory neurotransmission. In addition to these many putative mechanisms, it has also been proposed that the neuroprotective effects of lithium are key to its therapeutic actions. In this regard, lithium has been shown to reduce the oxidative stress that occurs with multiple episodes of mania and depression.”

Potential mechanisms of action of lithium in bipolar disorder. Current understanding

https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/23371914/

Why Is This Important?

Glutamate is also the most abundant neurotransmitter, responsible for regulating over 50% of the nervous system. It is classified as an excitatory neurotransmitter, which means it excites or stimulates nerve cells located throughout the nervous system. Glutamate also has the ability to regulate other neurotransmitters; dopamine, serotonin, and GABA are great examples. When glutamate is in excess, it is extremely toxic to the brain and nervous system. It can become so excitatory. It is considered an excitotoxin, which means that it overstimulates brain cells to the point of killing them or damaging them enough to cause severe mitochondrial dysfunction (associated with low muscle tone) and neurological inflammation. Excess glutamate is believed to be involved in a variety of neurological and neurodegenerative disorders, including autism, obsessive-compulsive disorders, hyperactivity disorders, complex motor stereotypes, tics, insomnia, anxiety disorders, seizures, sensory processing disorder, addiction, depression, chronic fatigue, PANS, PANDAS, Alzheimer’s, and so on. Excess glutamate also impairs methylation and depletes glutathione levels vital for detoxification, controlling inflammation, and gut health.  Working to lower glutamate/inflammation and balance GABA is key to improving overall health.

Obviously, diet (REID) is one of the most important, if not the most important, step in lowering glutamate. However, this natural option may prove beneficial in helping when experiencing a peak of symptoms related to high glutamate and neurological inflammation, i.e., following consumption of a high glutamate food, trauma or a “flare” from PANS (pediatric autoimmune neuropsychiatric disorder) or PANDAS (pediatric autoimmune neuropsychiatric disorders associated with streptococcal infections).  Additionally, working to lower inflammation/glutamate by treating underlying inflammation sources (metals, microbial imbalances, parasites, microglial activation, poor detoxification pathways, various toxins, etc.) will also be hugely beneficial.  We’ve personally found homeopathy to be great for this.

I do not have personal experience with all options mentioned on the “Lowering Glutamate” page, nor would I recommend all of them (especially the pharmaceutical options). You will want to read the comments as some of the items used to lower glutamate temporarily can actually work to increase glutamate/glutamate sensitivity over time.

The information shared within this blog has been gathered by a mother, not a physician, and should not act as medical advice. Under no circumstances shall I, or any contributors and affiliates of the blog, be responsible for damages arising from the blog’s use.