Switching to Lithium Orotate from Lithium Carbonate Cold Bipolar Turkey

Published on January 20, 2018 under bipolar

My collection Lithium Orotate

About a week ago, I finally decided to make a cold turkey switch from Lithium Carbonate to Lithium Orotate.

*Update:  3 months on Lithium Orotate 

This is not something I personally recommend doing as I’m not a doctor or a naturopath.  I am however a person living the experience of Bipolar Disorder, and I can put what I want in my body when I want to.  This is not a decision that I made overnight.

I first heard about Lithium Orotate several years ago.  I’m not sure how or where I first heard about this alternative to Lithium Carbonate, but I recall watching a convincing video by Dr. John Gray on the benefits of Lithium Orotate, even for people diagnosed with Bipolar Disorder.  I’m not going to go into the details as it’s easy enough to google.  My personal motivation is the fact that Lithium Carbonate is toxic beyond the small therapeutic range, and even those on a therapeutic dose need at least semi annual testing to check that the dose of lithium is not toxic.  And even if one only has an amount of lithium in the therapeutic range, many people will have to stop taking lithium after 10 or 20 years as it slowly but surely damages the kidneys.  Again, look up the studies for the exact facts and figures if you are interested.

Lithium Orotate is less toxic in that the lithium is more available when bound to the Orotate molecule compared to carbonate.  Therefore, more lithium can get into the body, needing a lower dose.  There are other Lithium Carbonate alternatives such as Lithium Citrate.

Even knowing all this for nearly 3 years, I never made the switch.  I was in stuck in the pre-planning phase and felt like amassing a stash of different brands of Lithium Orotate might convince me.  Finding a doctor open to Lithium Orotate for Bipolar Disorder is challenging.  I remember once talking to a Chiropractor on the phone who called himself the “Lithium Doctor”.  He said I could do a cold turkey switch.  I recall deciding to swap one of my two 300mg capsules of Lithium Carbonate for Lithium Orotate.  I had an anxiety attack.  That might have been what scared me off.  After that, I tried other things, but never the cold turkey swap.

In the last 10 months, I’ve been meddling with my meds.  I even was off all 3 of the medications I take for 5 months.  I felt really good and was hoping I could maintain being bipolar and med free.  This temporary reprieve from medication was heaven and I hope my kidneys and liver took the time to repair themselves.  I felt really good, but the bipolar biorhythm I am deciding to come to terms with did its usual thing.  It all started with body pain, then anxiety, then psychosis, and then Seroquel after feeling acutely suicidal.  My 5 months streak was over and I was devastated.

I was back on the Seroquel, and then lithium carbonate and then trazadone.  I was back at square one medication wise and in an abyss of depression that was hard to climb out of.  What does this have to do with cold turkying onto Lithium Orotate?  Well, after 3 months of being back on Lithium Carbonate, I decided since I’d screwed around with my meds so much in the last 10 months, why not screw around one more time while I’m at it.  This is perhaps counter intuitive, but that’s part of what makes me bipolar.

My reasoning was that if I super stabilized on Lithium Carbonate, I’d be more reluctant to do the cold turkey switch.  I was actually feeling okay, but I figured I’d go for it anyway.  So after a night of taking 900mg of Lithium Carbonate, the next morning I took 2 caps of Lithium Orotate, which is around 300mg.  I took two more caps in the evening.  I closed my eyes and crossed my fingers and hoped for the best.  And, nothing changed.  So for now I take Lithium Orotate and hope my kidneys can rest and repair.

There is 10mg of elemental Lithium in the 300mg of Lithium Orotate compared to 170 mg of elemental lithium in Lithium Carbonate.  Since I’m taking 2 doses of the Lithium Orotate, that is a total of 20 mg elemental lithium.  That’s why Lithium Carbonate can be toxic.  There is a lot of elemental lithium in a dose.  Some how the Orotate is supposed to deliver the lithium better.  If you really want to know the specifics of it, please research it yourself.  I’m not here to parrot all the research.

So far it seems like my risky decision to cold turkey to Lithium Orotate paid off.  I have noticed a little anxiety in my stomach a few times, but I think that’s because I ate too many dates.  I also started taking a probiotic and a baby aspirin at the same time, so it’s hard to know what did what.  Just a few minutes ago I polished off 8 dates and I feel that same stomach anxiety.  One of my next tasks is to clean up my diet 🙂

If start to go down hill, I’ll switch back to the Lithium Carbonate.

Also, I’m not completely med free.  I currently take 50 mg of Quetiapine/Seroquel at bed time.  I’m hoping to eventually reduce it to 25 mg.  I would be happy to only be on 12.5 but it seems if I go lower than this, my brain wants to be psychotic and suicidal.  I personally don’t like to put pharmaceuticals in my body, so if I can have periods of time where they are minimized, it helps me cope.  It’s my harm reduction for bipolar medications.

I am under the guidance of a naturopath who also has bipolar while switching and taking many other supporting nutrients.  Is this necessary and helpful?  I really don’t know.  I don’t know what causes what or what really helps.  I can’t help but keep on trying as this is my life and affects every part of it.  Today, I’ve been pondering my Bipolar biorthym and considering that there is a wave I need to ride, and no amount of anything really makes it better.  I might happen to start doing something and think it helped, but really, it was just time to feel better regardless.  I’m going to elaborate on this in a few days.

Again, don’t try this at home without proper medical advice.  This is my lived experience.

*Update:  3 month on Lithium Orotate

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  1. kim

    Thanks for sharing. Our son has Bipolar 2 and I’ve seen Dr. Gray’s video and am so frustrated with his doctor’s not knowing a thing about Lithium Orotate and only willing to increase his Li Carbonate. We’re tempted to switch to Orotate since he’s only a few months into his diagnoses and he’s stabilized but not better. How are you doing on the Orotate now?

    1. Nuts About Melons

      Hello! Thanks for reaching out. It’s been almost 2 months on Lithium Orotate and so far so good. I am taking 50mg of Quetiapine right now too. I’m hoping to not take that when my living situation is more in alignment with what my nervous system seems to need to not accumulate stress over time and have another crisis. I seem to have a crisis every 8 months or so and this time I’m going to see if I can postpone it with the Lithium Orotate and Quetiapine. I’m taking other vitamins that may or may not help postpone a “relapse” that a naturopath who has Bipolar himself told me about (as well as gave more information on making the switch). From my experience, learning how to live during the good times and reduce the harm through the bad times is important. Right now I’m living a dream, which gives me fuel to make it through the times of lower states of consciousness, which I’m assuming will come again. May I say that your son is lucky to have parents who are open to alternatives and thinking and looking outside the box. So much more I could say. My heart goes out to you and your son. If you would like any resources regarding Lithium Orotate or Lived Experience type support, please let me know through the contact me page as that way I can send a more personal response. Hugs!

  2. Sarah

    Hi there, I’m considering a similar switch to LiO and wanted to see how your transition has progressed. I might be giving the “Lithium Doctor” a call as well —was he helpful? I’m currently on 600mg of Lithium Carbonate and 150mg of Wellbutrin. Recently came off of Seroquel which I was also using for sleep. Thanks for sharing your experience!

    1. Nuts About Melons

      Hi! Thanks for reaching out. My switch is still going well. Nearly 3 months on Lithium Orotate as well as 50mg of Quetiapine. I am experimenting with taking a bunch of extra supplements too. The “Lithium Doctor” basically told me I could do a complete cold turkey switch, but I didn’t actually do it until years later (recently). I was off everything for a while. I am collaborating with Dr. Peter Smith of I spoke with him this morning as I am strategizing for my next crisis. I would definitely talk with someone whether it be “The Lithium Doctor”, Dr. Peter Smith, or Dr. John Gray. Dr. Peter Smith has a Bipolar diagnosis which I find helpful as he really understands what it’s like to live with ups and downs and the journey of trying to be empowered to have some level of “control” over it without rushing to mental health acute care services with every blip, which can be re-traumatizing. I’m going to post an update about the Lithium Orotate journey in a couple of days. All the best in wellness and for sharing in lived experience 🙂

      1. Jill

        I am trying to switch from carbonate to orotate. I am currently taking 1500 mg of lithium carbonate and 40 of Latuda. Eventually, I want to lower Latuda. But my goal is to make the lithium change first. As for your anxiety, psychosis, ready into CBD from cannabis hemp. Many websites have CBD that is legal in all 50 states. It is also known that CBD is a great antipsychotic. I take CBD 30mg every night and it helps me sleep, makes me calm and even helps with my arthritis. I am feeling well, however, my concern is the lithium because I know it will eventually damage my kidneys. The only problem with CBD is that even though it only contains 0.3 of thc and it will not have any psychotropic effect, it shows in a urine drug test. I am not tested at work, so that is not a problem for me. Have you done any blood work to measure your lithium level? Does oratate maintains the proper levels in the blood? My main concern is also what brand of orotate to buy and how many mg. Can you tell us what brand you recommend.

        1. Nuts About Melons

          Hi. Thanks for reaching out. Though I’m not a medical professional, I’m sharing my lived experience. I personally have no experience with CBD or anything like that, though perhaps I’d be open to it in the future if I was having trouble sleeping. Right now I’m taking supplements to sleep and 50mg of Quetiapine. I wrote a post about different kinds/brands of Lithium Orotate
          (There are also a few different practitioners who share information on Lithium Orotate on that page)
          I have tried 4 different brands with no real difference felt. The post is a little confusing I just realized because I wrote “I take 20mg of Lithium Orotate” when really, I take 20mgs of elemental lithium in Lithium Orotate form, which the total molecule weighs a lot more. The brand I’m taking right now Advance Research says “120mg Lithium Orotate which has 4.6mg of elemental lithium”. I take 5 a day, which is 600mg Lithium Orotate providing 23mg elemental lithium. This is a lot less elemental lithium than would be in the equivalent total weight dose of Lithium Carbonate. According to Dr. Peter Smith, a naturopath who treats his own Bipolar with Lithium Orotate and other remedies

          100mg of Lithium Carbonate has 18.8mg of elemental lithium. So 600mg of that would be 112.8mg elemental lithium, a much higher dose. Apparently Lithium Orotate has a different way of absorption so might require a lower dose of elemental lithium to get a good effect. The Lithium Carbonate takes a much higher dose of lithium pound it into the body because it’s less well absorbed and that’s part of why it’s so hard on the kidneys. Of course it’s much much more complex than this. It could even be said that no one knows exactly why lithium works well for certain people diagnosed bipolar. Some people don’t tolerate it at all. In my experience, I like to do a lot of research and understand things as well as I can for myself before making a change. The understanding helps to lesson the fear of making these types of changes. And once I overcome that fear, I feel more empowered to keep exploring what works for me to minimize harm of medications when I can, and also be open to taking more medication if/when it seems to be necessary. Being able to navigate in all directions is empowering and then nothing is a failure. If you read the most recent post, there is one on creating safety plans too. Anything to minimize fear is helpful. I haven’t done blood work to measure my lithium level but I would think it would be much lower and not in the “therapeutic range” of lithium carbonate. I’m not going to do this because then the medical professionals would know. My hope is that soon if I have this under control myself, I won’t have to go and see them anyway. Good luck with your research!

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