Thursday, December 25, 2008

Lithium, Vegetables, and Recovery from Alcohol and Drug Addiction

A lot of what medical science knows about diets and recovery from alcoholism and drug addiction began as a study of criminal justice in Texas. Epidemiologists noted in the 1960s that mental hospital admission rates and homicide rates were lowest in 24 county sites in Texas that had the highest concentrations of lithium in tap water.

Later studies in California found that homicide, suicide, forcible rape, burglary, theft, possession of narcotics, and, among juveniles, running away from home were much lower in cities that have high concentrations of lithium in tap water. Clinical studies found that former users of heroin and methamphetamines (crystal meth) given 400 micrograms of natural lithium in the form of a yeast for four weeks showed higher scores on psychological tests measuring of happiness, friendliness, and energy.

Lithium deficiency does not cause drug addiction, but use of drugs seems to deplete lithium. The amount of lithium taken as a nutritional supplement in this test was less than 0.1 percent of the standard dosage used to treat bipolar disorder (1000-1800 mg/da).

Lithium is readily absorbed from food and distributed throughout the body. In general, diets that are high on whole grains and fresh vegetables provide more lithium than diets rich in animal proteins. North American diets provide from 400 to 2900 micrograms of lithium a day. Tap water may provide considerable additional lithium.

Tap water in west Texas reaches a concentration of 170 microgram per liter, adding about 340 microgram of lithium to daily intake from foods. This relatively small amount of lithium can have a significant impact on mental health.

Average Dietary Intake of Lithium in Different Countries
China (Xi’an) 1560 micrograms
Mexico (Tijuana) 1485
Sweden (Stockholm) 1090
United States (Galveston, TX) 820
United States (NYC) 650
Germany (Munich) 400
Austria (Vienna) 50

The best food sources of lithium are tomatoes, potatoes, green and hot peppers. It is more important that you begin abstaining from drugs than you start eating foods containing lithium. Since lithium lifts mood, addicts who are not yet abstaining are less likely to begin abstaining if they consume foods containing lithium.

Multiple drug users, long-term drug users, and drug users who have multiple sexual partners tend to have deficiencies of vitamins in the vitamin A group. (Persons who have multiple sexual partners have high rates of exposure to papillomavirus, the virus accelerates growth of mucosal tissues, the growth of mucosal tissues and formation of warts depletes vitamin A.) HIV infection in recovering drug addicts is associated with subclinical malnutrition in both women and men. Researchers have found that HIV+ men in recovery from addiction tend to consume high-fat diets but inadequate calories, and to have deficiencies in virtually all nutrients found in vegetables or foods containing “good” fats: folate, magnesium, vitamin B6, vitamin E, and zinc.

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