A psychiatrist specializing in integrative medicine makes a case for lithium as a preventive treatment for Alzheimer’s disease.
Statistics cited by Greenblatt (Finally Focused, 2017, etc.) about Alzheimer’s are sobering: In the United States, for example, “10% of people 65 and older” have the disease, and it is “the sixth leading cause of death.” The first several chapters of this intriguing book offer a straightforward, easily comprehensible overview of Alzheimer’s and the manner in which the disease leads to death. The author reports that “currently, no medication is effective in preventing the progression of Alzheimer’s”; hence, the motivation for this work. The majority of the book is centered on Greenblatt’s belief that micro doses of lithium, a simple mineral, could be effective in preventing and treating early Alzheimer’s. The author supports his claim by referencing a number of recent research studies, all of them scrupulously footnoted. He observes, however, that lithium’s lengthy history as a medical treatment has sometimes worked against it because of concerns over high doses, which can be toxic. In addition, writes Greenblatt with chagrin, “there is little financial incentive for research on lithium. Companies are not interested in developing a new pitch for an old drug.” In spite of these factors, the volume provides a convincing argument for the supplemental use of lithium, delivering scientific details (some a bit dry and technical) about how lithium functions to protect brain cells. The author goes even further, suggesting that the use of a lithium supplement “contributes to brain health in broad ways.” The “action plan” he puts forth at the end of the book includes suggestions for using lithium paired with other nutritional supplements, including various vitamins as well as natural substances such as curcumin. Readers are cautioned to consult a physician, but even so, the emphasis on dietary supplements is strikingly narrow. Short chapters, summaries, and “key points” facilitate reading. This work is part of Greenblatt’s Psychiatry Redefined book series.
Academic and challenging at times but generally engaging and informative about Alzheimer’s.