by Neev M. Arnell
drug prescribed for depression, mania and
bipolar disorder, is now
being viewed as the new fluoride by some experts.
These experts are
calling for the addition of
lithium to the water supply as a
cure-all for social problems, including suicide, violent crime and
Lithium is the
Dr. Gerald Schrauzer, who published the first paper in 1989
connecting lithium in water supplies to a decrease in certain
undesirable social behaviors, became interested in lithium after
growing up next to a "miracle spring" in Franzensbad,
spring was alleged to moderate the temperaments of women in
For centuries, people worldwide have been attracted to springs like
these for their calming benefits, and scientists have since found
the benefits to be credited to unusually high natural lithium
Of course this is how the addition of fluoride to the water supply
came about. It was discovered that people with "Colorado Brown
Stain" or "Texas Teeth", names that described a mottling and
staining of the tooth enamel, lived in areas in Colorado and Texas
that had higher naturally occurring levels of fluoride.
It was believed that the
naturally occurring fluoride in the water made the enamel of the
teeth harder and more resistant to cavities, so it was suggested
that fluoride be distributed through the water supply to benefit
Unfortunately, we now know that "Colorado Brown Stain" and "Texas
Teeth" were cases of
dental fluorosis, which can cause pitting and
decay of teeth in its severe form, and may actually cause them to be
41 percent of American
adolescents now suffer from this fluoride induced condition.
Proponents of lithium in the water supply claim that it has
A 2009 study across 18 communities in Japan showed that those with
higher levels of naturally occurring fluoride were significantly
less vulnerable to suicide.
A study from this year
corroborated the findings, showing that 4 to 15 percent of the
variation in suicides across 99 counties in Austria was due to
lithium content in regional water supplies.
"As a matter of
empirical science, this connection between water-based lithium
and suicide is absolutely becoming widely accepted," said Jacob
Appel, a psychiatrist and bioethicist at Mount Sinai Hospital in
New York City.
"The research, when
one of a scientific persuasion reads it, is compelling - even if
it might be jaw-dropping."
If the research
continues to show good results, Appel sees America as a possible
first candidate for implementation, citing as a precedent how easily
genetically modified and 'fortified' foods
have been both approved by
the U.S. government and accepted by American consumers.
The public is
not buying it
It seems that experts who put forward the notion of adding lithium
to the water supply often encounter harsh and sometimes violent
Dr. Allan Young, a psychiatry professor at Imperial College
in London who published a 2009 commentary on the subject, received a
handful of death threats and was likened to a Nazi. He also received
500 vitriolic emails after publishing an article on The Huffington
Post, several of which were so provocative that they caused him to
contact the authorities.
But even experts enthusiastic about adding lithium to the water
supply caution about unintended consequences.
First, it is still not
clear how lithium affects the brain and, second, there is also the
consideration of possible personality changes within the recipient.
dampens impulsivity, which would explain how it dampens suicide
rates," Young said.
"But at a population level, what if that
impulsivity is being directed in a healthy way - the person
jumping onto the subway tracks to save a life?"
Adding lithium to the
water supply could also have the unintended consequence of
widespread personality homogenization, according to Peter Kramer,
a psychiatrist at Brown Medical School.
"When you change
these resilience factors in the brain, you see other changes
too, People are less timid and shy, for example," Kramer said.
"But maybe people want the right not to have these subtle
changes taking place, without making the choice for themselves."
To begin with, psychology does not always have the best track record
with mental health solutions, particularly when it comes to
prescription medications, as evidenced by the implication of
antidepressants in suicides and school shootings.
But there is a much more obvious problem. Dr. Paul Connett,
director of Fluoride Action Network, has been fighting to get
fluoride out of the water in the remaining 2 percent of countries
worldwide that still fluoridate, and one of the major arguments
against adding fluoride, or any drug -- lithium included, to the
water supply is that you cannot control the dose that any one person
Connett argues that, to
mass medicate in this way, the government would need to ensure that
the dose for every individual in the society was at such a level
that it would be safe and completely non-toxic - this means
accommodating an adequately safe dose for everyone including infants
to large males or different races, ethnicities, ages and sexes.
If it were even possible to arrive at such a dosage, Connett argues
that such a policy would violate informed consent because those
drinking the water are not being made aware of the risks associated
with the drug and do not have the right to opt out if they do not
wish to assume those risks.