It is not the lithium that is used in car batteries but rather lithium salt. Early in its use, the salt was used as a replacement of table salt to control high blood pressure. No one figured out that too much of this kind of salt was toxic to the body.
What is Lithium?
Lithium is a metal and naturally occurs in nature but it is unstable chemically. It always has to be bound to something other than itself. This unstable element also reacts negatively with water. When prescription drugs were developed for human use, a salt was attached to lithium to stabilize it. The two most common was citrate salt (lithium citrate) and carbonate salt (lithium carbonate).
It was developed as a mood stabilizing drug for the treatment of bipolar disorder to prevent mania and depression. Lithium is used with other antidepressant drugs to improve their effect. It has a very anti-suicidal effect but it doesn’t cure the suicidal tendencies. The medication gets widely used in the central nervous system and reacts with receptors to increase serotonin synthesis. Hence you get the feel good mood.
Lithium Side Effects
Lithium interferes with regulation of sodium and water in your body which in turn causes dehydration. It causes your kidneys not to reabsorb water that would normally be filtered out. This in turn causes your Lithium concentration to increase making it toxic for your body.
Lithium even in its ionic form is still a form of metal. Metal in the body causes poisoning and can lead to death. At this point some serious metal poisoning side effects can be noticed such as diarrhea, vomiting, nausea, drowsiness, muscle weakness, loss of coordination and renal failure.
Other Side Effects
Lithium has been known to reduce the regulation of your thyroid hormone. This leads to weight gain and constant thirst. Other more known common side effects are: gas, indigestion, stomach pain, dry mouth, acne, constipation, hair loss and brittle finger nails.
Lithium has been linked to birth defects mainly causing a congenital heart defect in fetuses in the first trimester. In addition, it has been known to cause involuntary eye movement (Nystagmus) which can lead to reduced or limited vision. Yet this medication is one of two drug treatments for children for bipolar disorders.
I am curious, have you used Lithium for any treatment?