Researchers in Scotland are investigating whether lithium should be added to the water supply to help boost mood in order to help lower levels of suicide among the local population.
The Mail Online reports: Scientists in Scotland are looking into whether adding lithium to water supplies could help mental health. Lithium is prescribed as a mood-stabilising drug (a typical daily dose is 300 mg), mainly for bipolar disorder, and is thought to work by modifying certain chemicals in the brain.
But it occurs naturally in many water sources in Scotland, leaching out from volcanic rock at very low concentration (providing a daily dose of about 2 mg per two litres of water).
Now researchers at the University of Glasgow School of Medicine are investigating where there is a link between lithium in water and lower suicide rates – previous research in Austria and Japan suggests that people whose water supply naturally contains lithium are less likely to take their own lives.
We want to improve the methodology by looking at smaller postcode areas,’ explains Daniel Smith, a professor of psychiatry, who is heading the research.
Results are expected next year and could spark discussions about adding lithium to the water supply.But, despite the fact that doses would be extremely low, it’s a controversial step. One scientist has reportedly received death threats over his involvement in the research.
Chris Exley, professor of bioinorganic chemistry at Keele University, thinks it ‘unlikely’ that lithium will be added to water supplies soon. But he says that such low amounts are unlikely to cause harm or make any difference to mood anyway