Team GR: Lithium is growing as a popular supplement for anger-related issues in those with autism. We asked Dr. Skowron to tell us about the research behind it and its benefits.
By Dr. Jared M. Skowron
Many of us are familiar with the great health benefits of minerals. Our bodies require a minimum amount to function normally.
Calcium grows strong bones.
Magnesium relaxes muscles.
Potassium keeps the nervous system firing.
Zinc supports the immune system.
Iron carries our oxygen.
However, there’s a very important one that many of us forget, and it helps us keep our anger in check. How many of our children go into Fight or Flight reactions when they don’t get their way? How many of you are walking on eggshells because you don’t want another half hour temper tantrum meltdown? Is it hard to say ‘no’ to your child? Is it hard to take the iPad away, or transition or turn off cartoons or the video game?
If your child can’t handle stress, then they quickly go into a Fight or Flight reaction. Now many people think of this reaction as a single entity, ‘Fight or Flight.’ But in reality it is two separate reactions, ‘Fight’ OR ‘Flight.’ Think about your child’s reaction, do they get angry and aggressive; do you have scratch marks on your body? Or instead do they run away? Your child is either ‘Fight’ OR ‘Flight.’
The explosive anger reactions that we see in our children have two components: ease of reacting, and severity of reaction. Reducing the frequency of these reactions is easy to treat. In my biomedical clinic, we’ve found an association with cortisol hormone levels with the quickness of temper tantrums. It’s kind of like a dynamite fuse. The longer we make the fuse, the harder it is for them to explode. Spectrum Awakening’s Temper Tamer supplement works well for so many of our patients to reduce the ease of explosions.
The anger is inevitable, and we need to support a different part of the body to reduce the severity of the reactions. It’s important to remember that while we do have conscious control of our emotions, there is an underlying chemistry that affects our mood. The depression that is associated with hypothyroidism, vitamin D deficiency, and serotonin deficiencies is well known, well understood, and easily treated. The biology of anger explosions in our children is slightly different, but it is still partially out of their control. They are a product of their genetics, biology, and nutrition (today we’re discussing the minerals in our nutrition).
The high level of anger comes from Adrenaline levels and NMDA activity in the brain. Reducing these to a healthy and normal level will improve your child’s level of anger, and the natural mineral supplement that can help with this is Lithium.
Now, you’re probably thinking, ‘I’m not doping my kid up with drugs!’
Let’s go back to high school chemistry class and remember the Periodic Table of Elements. Calcium is on there, magnesium is on there, so is zinc, copper, potassium, and… you guessed it, lithium is on there. It’s #3, sitting under Hydrogen in the left hand column.
Lithium orotate is the mineral form of lithium, which is different than the drug lithium. Supporting your child’s healthy lithium mineral levels supports their mood, just as supporting their calcium, magnesium, zinc, copper, and iron, helps other parts of their body.
In 2014, a study was done on 30 children who received lithium. 43% of them were rated as improved.
In 1987, two case studies were published on lithium improving behavior in two autistic children.
Lithium is also shown to be beneficial in those with Fragile X syndrome.
So, now that we’ve seen some research proving that this is an effective treatment, we ask ourselves why and how is this working? There are three potential possibilities.
- Lithium can activate MAO activity. MAO is the gene that metabolizes and removes adrenaline. A homozygous MAO gene is often associated with high anger levels due to the decreased ability to remove adrenaline. Lithium can support MAO activity and therefore reduce adrenaline to a normal level.
- Lithium balances NMDA activity by improving intracellular scaffolding activity. Within every cell are connections, imagine roads or zip-lines from one part of the cell to another. This scaffolding, or roads, allows the cell to function correctly. Some children with autism have genetic mutations that affect this scaffolding, which in turn, affects cell communication, which in turn, causes hyper excitement in the brain, and the resulting problematic behaviors. These genes seen in the scientific research are known as SHANK2, SHANK3, and can be associated with 22q13 deletion syndrome. Whether or not your child has been tested for these genetics (a CMA and WES genetic test), lithium can benefit their mood and behaviors.
- Many of you have a child that regressed around the ages of 12-18 months. These are extremely common, trust me, you’re not alone. J B Handley, co-founder of Generation Rescue, has been showcasing scientific research on his social media about Aluminum toxicity being a major cause of regressive autism. (Make sure to get a copy of his new book releasing in September 2018)
While detoxing Aluminum is a long and challenging process, Lithium protects Aluminum-induced brain damage. The importance of this is huge. Heavy metals, such as Aluminum, continue to damage brain cells for as long as they are in the body, and we can protect our children from that damage with Lithium Orotate.
Research on aluminum toxicity and lithium in animals shows that lithium supplementation can improve memory, cognition, and anxiety.
Scientific research is finally catching up with what we’ve known all along, which is that proper nutrition helps our body heal. Lithium has earned the moniker of being a strong psych drug, but now you know the difference between the pharmaceutical and the natural mineral. The mineral is also safe. A study of adults treated with lithium orotate at 150mg daily showed safety and lack of toxicity. Spectrum Awakening has just released its newest product, Peace of Lithium. Each capsule contains 5mg of Lithium Orotate and 200mg of TMG (trimethyl glycine, a relaxing amino acid). I normally recommend 2 capsules in the morning and 2 at night to help our angry children be happy again. Save 15% with coupon GenRescue.
See Dr. Skowron speak live at Generation Rescue’s Autism Education Summit this September in Dallas!