Friday, March 07, 2008

I am ion man...

That'd be lithium ion I am talking about. And the following contains brief vomitty stuff - be worned.

Now, I have a modest proposal. I will start by reassuring people about my lack of competing interests - I used to be on lithium myself, but I am not on it anymore. I was, back in the medical school days, when I was a less well but a better person, for about two years, although my memory of much of this is faulty, and I believe I was for a while in the years before.

I remmeber it, I remember the plastic screw-top bottles I kept it in, I remember the nausea and the shakes, I remember that if I dropped some in the basin when getting it out of the bottle it was unwise to pick up the tablet (slightly moistened) and swallow it anyway. I had to throw it out, and to hell with all the lithium-less and manic children in the poor countries. I had to do that because if I swallowed it wet I vomited it up fifteen minutes later.

That was the main bad point. The vomiting and the weight gain and the always being thirsty. That and the fact it didn't really work as well for me as other medications. I remember seeing telling what I now suspect was a callow ED intern more than ten years ago , and she asked me if I was compliant, if I was taking my lithium, and I said if I took any more I'd fizz when I got in the bath. Like sodium does, but slightly less so. We both thought this was slightly funny, but I still had to see the psychiatrist.

Plus it has a very narrow therapeutic window. Just enough is very close to too much, and too much can be fatal. people on lithium have to keep an eye on their lithium levels, which means blood tests - take a few too many anti-inflammatories for a headache and if you're unlucky you can give yourself confusion, vomiting and death.

Now, with all this going on, who in their right mind would propose putting it in drinking water?

Well, me, for one*.

I propose a couple of cubes of it in every dam, a few salt licks upstream of the major rivers, a tankard in the reservoirs. Mix it in with the other stuff, the fluoride and the chloride and the stuff that makes us scared of Moslems. All lithium all the time, lithium for the people.

What could this possibly achieve? Well, while browsing through old issues of Biological Trace Element Research at three AM (that's a lie, by the way, I was looking in Google scholar for any trials of mood stabilisers in cannabis withdrawal - another interesting area) I came across a paper by Shrestha, KP and Schrauzer, GN, about lithium and murder, burglary, sexual assault, etc. in Texas.

Form what I can work out, they looked at the levels of lithium in the variuous counties in Texas back in the nineties - some counties have virtually none, some have as much as 170 micrograms a litre. They looked at rates of homicide, suicide, arrests for drug possession and drunkenness.

And what did they find? A "statistically significant inverse relationship". More lithium, less murder, suicide, drug arrests. Less lithium, more murder, etc. Lithium is good for your community.

Here is the reference.

Obviously there are alternative explanations. Perhaps the lithiumn-addled law enforement officials in Peaceful Valley are too calm to notice the waves of murders and suicides that are engulfing their suburbs, perhaps beatific judges refuse to convict anyone, perhaps being on lithium motivates you to drive to teh next county to sell your cocaine rather than sell it at home. But I doubt it. It may be that our next big public health project is the here. We've all always known that most of the population is crazy, here's a chance to finally do something about it!

I respectfully offer this idea to political candidates of any persuasion.

Anyway, deliriously tired. Please do not write to me suggesting that this is not the world's best idea. I'm glad I'm having any at the moment.

Thanks for listening,

*I know.


Blogger Foilwoman said...

It's a great idea. You always have great ideas. Now take some lithium.

11:51 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

where are you?
Whats happening at work?
How is you partner/
readers want to read Bronze john...

6:05 PM  

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