Be Nice To Yourself and Don’t Buy Supplements Online

Buying supplements online seems like a good idea, a cheap way to get supplements we want or can’t get in our country. I’m Canadian and some stuff just isn’t available here. I admit, I used to be a bit of a diet pill junky, or collector. I’d buy the stupid things and take a couple, get sick, and throw them all out when I got busted by my mom. I did that for 8 years. I wasted a lot of money. I admit, I still scour the Internet for diet pills. Bad habit. I don’t use them anymore, but I find them interesting.

simpsons

I am a very pro-treatment and pro-medication kind of gal. I’ve never found that naturopaths or homeopaths have worked for me, but I know those they’ve worked very well for. I’ve tried over the counter stuff for my bipolar disorder and it hasn’t worked. If it’s worked for you, great. Feel free to share experiences. I won’t deny that over the counter stuff works, it has helped me with other problems (pain, PMS, cramps. I hate painkillers, for example). I also won’t deny that it isn’t as tightly regulated as it should be, and that it can be dangerous. People need to see their doctors before taking it and follow precautions, especially if they mix it with meds. These are medications, too, just not as tightly regulated.

People are wary of prescription drugs. In the US, in one year, they spent $26.7 billion(1) on non-prescription supplements. I’m making a guess at this, but there is less guilt in taking something over the counter, less embarrassment than asking your doctor? It seems the world is split, some avoid prescription meds, and some overuse them. The happy medium isn’t big enough!

The FDA and a subsection (Dietary Supplement Health and Education Act DSHEA) have found:
– Some supplements found in stores and online can cause heart, kidney and liver problems with no warnings.
– There is little to no quality control and toxic substances such as pesticides, heavy metals or (for some strange reason) even prescription drugs are being sold with no knowledge to the customer.
– China is a major supplier of raw ingredients, which are often contaminated, have never had their factories inspected by the FDA.
Many products also exaggerate their claims, meaning, they say the supplement can prevent, treat or cure a disease. This is harmful advice, and this is illegal.
Consumers of the products often have no idea
A lot of the users of the supplements don’t know what they’re getting. It’s like a surprise, but it can hurt or kill you! A lot of vitamins and supplements purchased online contain very little nutritional value and can kill you, your kids or your pet. Seriously, if they get into them. There are a few reasons why buying online is a bad idea(2).

counterfeit

1. A medication can be “counterfeit” and dangerous. (I’m picturing a pill in fake Adidas with an Ak-47)
2. The product has probably expired, if it is real, and the seller has repackaged it for resale.
And for the best one 3. It’s stolen. No quality control.

If you can’t get it at home, don’t order it online. This includes even Amazon.

Counterfeit?
Counterfeit basically means “fake”, or “ripped off”. This is different from medications where there is a brand name and a generic, because the generic actually has real ingredients in it. A counterfeit mediction just looks real. It doesn’t act real. It’s never going to have as much active ingredient as it claims, and if you check out the link to where I’m getting this info, you’re literally paying a lot for a little bit of sawdust, according to the FDA.

roundup

Note: The criminals rarely get charged because it’s too hard to figure out who to charge, where it began and so on. Sad. This is costing a lot of money, $600 billion, to be, well, estimated, which is almost as much as terrorism costs. Cheap is so tempting, but it’s not legit.

Expired
All medications expire and can do weird things after they do. They can become more potent, less potent, or make you change colours and see things (or make you see yourself change colour?) It’s a bad idea to take that expired cough syrup. You’ll probably cough it back up into the toilet, for example, if you’re lucky. Generally a medication or supplement is good for 6-12 months after being filled at the pharmacy. Sometimes longer. Selling an expired product is illegal, its dangerous, because the product may or may not work, it could make you sick, and all the criminal has to do is slap a new date on the package.

expired

They can get any amount of $ they want. The pills aren’t counterfeit. If someone complains it doesn’t work, the “seller” and throw them a few good pills, or ignore it. Nobody knows exactly how effective this stuff is anyways. It’s a dangerous game when you buy online. Here’s a link on expired medications: http://www.rxlist.com/script/main/art.asp?articlekey=87599

As for stolen, well, that’s self explanatory. You could get a good product once, a bad product another time. Hit or miss.

When In Doubt
If you’re going to use supplements:
1. Don’t buy them online. Go to a local health food store.
2. See your doctor and pharmacist. Check for interactions. Get that physical every year, or every other year. Some doctors are very open to supplements. I know many that have a few concoctions for PMS and cramps!
3. Don’t take anything for weight loss, sexual ehancement or building muscle.
4. If it’s from the US, or you’re living in the US, it has a “USP Verified”(3) mark on the bottle. Their website is linked below with everything they verify.
5. You CAN overdose. More is not better.
6. If something feels wrong, tell your doctor. If it’s really wrong, go to an emergency clinic, or the ER.

Safely Buying Supplements
1. Buy from the manufacturer or a reputable operation in your own country. Try not to cross borders. Do not import things illegal in your country. (For example, ephedra, easy to get OTC in Canada, is illegal in most USA States)
2. Reputable companies supply a lot more information, ingredients, quality control info, and websites with more info, and even have phone numbers.
3. Avoid really cheap stuff.
4. Avoid sites like ebay and amazon, this is your health!

1. http://www.consumerreports.org/cro/2012/05/dangerous-supplements/index.htm
2.http://www.garyshealthtips.com/why-you-should-never-buy-supplements-on-amazon-or-ebay-a-must-read-by-former-fda-special-agent-gary-collins/wn

3. http://www.usp.org/usp-verification-services/usp-verified-dietary-supplements

Lithium Orotate – Consult a Doctor First

Consult a doctor

Consult a doctor

Just a quick response to my lithium orotate article.
Lithium orotate is lithium. Simple as that, it is just a different chemical formation. I have been called all sorts of names, a liar, an advocate for “Big Pharma” and so on. Lithium carbonate is probably the same price – it’s an inexpensive drug and it’s monitored by pharmacies, labs and you can’t buy it easily online and you know what you’re getting (in an ideal world, at least, you should know). Levels should be checked.

Lithium is dangerous to the kidneys in any formula, yes. However, lithium orotate is more dangerous. It is an over the counter supplement. This does not mean “safe”. Tylenol is deadly to the liver, for example, and is sold anywhere. Take enough, and you’ll need a new liver. What a crap example, I know.

Lithium has to be at a certain level in the blood to be therapeutic for the patient. I’m in a country (Canada) with socialized healthcare. I get blood tests for free, I get my meds cheap, yes, I have that advantage. (I can’t take lithium, but it did help for many years, I did end up with mild kidney disease called “diabetes insipidous”) It’s not the safest drug, I know that from experience. It has shitty side effects. It hasn’t changed much over the years. But it works.

Lithium orotate is dangerous simply because anyone can get it. Online supplements are more dangerous because you don’t know what you’re getting. People tend to abuse something advertised as “natural”, because “natural” sounds safe. Look at things like diet pills from GNC, a year later, they get banned because people end up with heart problems. The “healthy living store”.

I’m not saying all natural supplements are bad. But they all say to take with the advice of a doctor. Self prescribing anything is a bad idea. Especially for a psychiatric illness as serious as bipolar disorder. Especially with something like lithium. Blood levels are generally reduced to every 6 months, sometimes less once a dose is established.

A few things to remember.
Natural is NOT always safe.
Always consult a doctor, whether it be a GP or psychiatrist, before taking any over the counter medication or supplement. It could interact with something you already take, or even eat.

Be cautious if you order something online. The dose might not be accurate. It could contain something you don’t know of. It could contain something you’re allergic to. It could contain something that could come up on a physical or blood test as a false negative or positive.

A health food store doesn’t exactly have the most qualified people to give medical advice. This is medicine we’re talking about. Your mind and body. Again, see a doctor.

If you experience any weird side effects STOP.

Be cautious. Nothing works the same way for two people.

This is all my opinion. I do not have any links for you.

Danger! Lithium Orotate

If you do a basic Google search for this supplement, it will bring up things like:

  • Lithium orotate works!
  • Lithium orotate is NOT a prescription drug!
  • It is NOT toxic like lithium carbonate! (1)

Image

Well, what do you think when something sounds too good to be true?
It probably is.

Over the counter supplements can be extremely dangerous when put in the wrong hands. Diet pills are a good example. So many diet pills are put up and pulled down from the market in any given month, and serious side effects are later reported: heart failure, anxiety, liver or kidney problems. Sure, people abuse over the counter supplements because they think they are safe, but some over the counter supplements can do far worse than a prescription medication.

This article is probably going to piss some people off because I’m fairly anti-over-the-counter-supplement, unless I need something for my cough or flu. Vitamins are always a good idea, but you should still make sure you need them. Sometimes more is too much. This is my side, and many medical professionals, sides of lithium orotate. I’m not saying it’s going to immediately kill you, it may work, but tell your doctor, as with any supplement you may be taking because they can interact with other medications and dietary supplements too. I can’t stress that enough. Also, it isn’t allowed in Canada.

Let’s get started.

What is lithium orotate?
Another way of delivering lithium. Lithium carbonate is generally used in bipolar disorder in doses of 300mg and up. They claim that lithium orotate goes “straight to the brain”(2) but this is untrue because medications have to be processed by the body, mainly liver and kidneys, and the blood-brain barrier has it’s own defence system, which basically means, drugs don’t go directly to the brain. The barrier is needed to keep the brain and central nervous system healthy. It treats medications as an enemy, not allowing them through. (3)

Okay, so lithium orotate is just another method of delivering lithium to the body in hopes of it helping bipolar disorder, depression, anxiety, and whatever else.

Lithium orotate is a salt of lithium and orotic acid. There are no systematic reviews of the efficiency of lithium orotate for any condition. In 1979, it was found that lithium orotate was more dangerous to the kidneys than lithium carbonate.(4) Don’t forget about the thyroid! Lithium effects that, too.

Lithium attacks the kidneys. I know this because I have diabetes insipidus. People complain of symptoms such as urinating too much and being constantly thirsty on lithium orotate. I am not saying its causing diabetes insipidus in all the users, but that’s not necessarily good for you. Ok, I’ll stop giving you my opinion and give you some facts.

Lithium Toxicity from Internet Dietary Supplement (5)
The internet has made it easier to get supplements, and easier to overdose on them. An 18 year old woman presented in the emergency room after taking 18 tablets of a lithium orotate based product, each containing 120mg of lithium. She had a low lithium level, was vomitting, and given IV fluids. 90 minutes later, her lithium level was higher, and she was transferred to a psychiatric ward with stable vital signs, but also lithium toxicity.

Lithium orotate is not FDA approved. (6)
There is no research of it being used on humans, but it is available online to anybody.

Lithium orotate releases more lithium into the body than lithium carbonate, bringing us back to kidney issues. Kidney disease, kidney failure, and death. Talk to your doctor. Don’t believe everything you read, take caution, and read the bottle. Unlike a prescription bottle, whose to say if the information is accurate?

“Controversial claims regarding the actual benefits and side effects of lithium orotate are widespread. Much of the debate centers around the last recorded study done on rats in 1979 by Smith and Schou. In the study, equal amounts of all three lithium derivatives were given to the rats. The results indicated that lithium orotate was not eliminated by the rats’ kidneys, unlike the other two brands.” (7)

So what am I trying to say?
Lithium orotate could help you. Or it could not. It could damage your kidneys or kill you. If you need to be on lithium, get it through your doctor or psychiatrist, not off the internet. It’s been used since the 1970’s. You need kidneys and the risk of damage is lowered when a physician is having regular levels drawn and monitoring your treatment.

(1) http://mysite.verizon.net/res003jh/lithium-orotate/
(2) http://www.marsvenus.com/p/lithium-orotate
(3) http://www.health.umn.edu/research/corridors/brain/blood-brain-barrier/index.htm
(4) http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/34690
(5) http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/18072162
(6) http://www.ehow.com/about_5531532_lithium-orotate-information.html
(7) http://www.ehow.com/about_4614151_side-effects-lithium-orotate.html

Severe Side Effects Part 1 – Diabetes Insipidus

Sever and Rare Side Effects Part 1 – Diabetes Insipidus

Diabetes insipidus has nothing to do with blood sugar. It is sometimes called “water diabetes”. You’re either born with it, or you get it from taking lithium. There is a 1/100,000 chance of getting this disease.

 

Well, I fucking got it.

 

I took lithium for eight years, it helped me incredibly. I went for a routine physical and they found protein in my urine. Further testing and an endocrinologist confirmed that it was, infact, diabetes insipidus. They were testing me for type 2 diabetes because of unexplained weight gain. I went from 120lbs to 160. I’m now in the 140’s, at the 51st percentile for someone my height, build and age.

 

They immediately told me to cold turkey discontinue the lithium. Lithium doesn’t necessarily have withdrawal or discontinuation symptoms, but it still sucks, because that was my main mood stabilizer. It was the only one that worked very well, and it was after my kidneys.

 

They suspected diabetes of some sort because diabetes means “thirst”. I could hardly go five minutes without sipping on something, and I never drink caffeinated beverages. Usually just water, juice, or light coloured pop. My endocrinologist fucked up on the type of diabetes I had, and got mad at me for not monitoring my blood sugar. Then he actually read my file, and gave me a blood work requisition form and told me to come back in 3 months, don’t take Lithium.

 

After 2 months, the symptoms were just as bad, so I called to move my appointment up, and in the end, fired the endocrinologist. I went to my GP for a referral to a kidney doctor, rather than a hormone doctor, and he told me “No, I referred you to an endocrinologist” and literally slammed the door in my face. He was in one of his “moods”. So I fired him, too, and got a new doctor who is fantastic.

 

I was diagnosed at the end of September and I’m taking a diuretic, Apo-Hydro, which means liquids are getting processed by my kidneys, and I’m not peeing out all the nutrients I’m taking in. Sounds kind of weird, that a diuetic has an opposite effect on someone with DI. After only a week, I’m seeing results. I’m not so thirsty, I’m not as dehydrated and I’m not going to the bathroom (literally) 20 times a day.

 

What causes diabetes insipidus?

Because this is a bipolar blog, I’m only going to cover the nephrogenic class of DI, because that is what lithium can rarely cause.

It is a defect in the kidneys that reabsorbs water back into the bloodstream.(1) It can be cause by genetics or certain medications, lithium being the big one.

 

Symptoms

The initial symptoms are the same as diabetes mellutis and that is why it is called “diabetes”. They are two completely different disorders, though. DI effects the kidneys, while diabetes mellutis effects the pancreas.

The main symptoms are: Excessive thirst (check!), which can be intense and uncontrollable (check!), craving ice water (check!) and excessive urine volume, as well as urinating way too much.

A urinalysis is used to diagnose this type of DI.

 

Depending on the severity of the condition, urine output can range from 2.6 quarts (about 2.5 liters) a day if you have mild diabetes insipidus to 16 quarts (about 15 liters) a day if the condition is severe and if you’re taking in a lot of fluids. In comparison, the average urine output for a healthy adult is in the range of 1.6 to 2.6 quarts (about 1.5 to 2.5 liters) a day.”(3)

 

Treatment

Stopping lithium has been said to control the diabetes insipidus and it takes a while. The disease will reverse itself and the kidneys will function normally again. Sometimes, after long term use of lithium, it becomes permanent. I just thought that lithium made you thirsty, so I drank a lot of water, and went to the bathrom a lot. Diuretics are the main medications used to treat nephrogenic DI.

 

Prognosis

If treated, diabetes insipidus does not cause severe problems or shorten your life.(2) If not treated, you can end up dehydrated or have an electrolyte imbalance.

 

Quick Facts(4)

  • Diabetes insipidus is not related to diabetes mellitus (type 1 and type 2 diabetes).

  • Diabetes insipidus is caused by problems related to the hormone antidiuretic hormone (ADH) or its receptor and causes frequent urination.

  • There are four types of diabetes insipidus; 1) central diabetes insipidus, 2) nephrogenic diabetes insipidus, 3) dipsogenic diabetes insipidus, and 4)gestational diabetes insipidus.

  • The most common symptom of diabetes insipidus is frequent urination.

  • The diagnosis for diabetes insipidus is based on a series of tests (for example,urinalysisand fluid deprivation test).

  • The treatment for diabetes insipidus depends on the type of diabetes insipidus.

  • Diabetes can lead to chronic kidney disease.

  • Diabetes is the most common cause ofkidney failurein the US.

So, in the end, I’m hoping that it will clear up over the next year or so, and I won’t have to take diueretics for the rest of my life!

 

  1. http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmedhealth/PMH0001415/

  2. http://www.nlm.nih.gov/medlineplus/ency/article/000377.htm

  3. http://www.mayoclinic.com/health/diabetes-insipidus/DS00799/DSECTION=symptoms

  4. http://www.medicinenet.com/diabetes_insipidus/article.htm

Medications Part 1 – Lithium

Lithium was a great med for me. I took 900mg of it per day and it stabilized my moods, I was happier, but I gained weight. I went to my GP to see if he could find a reason for my weight gain, and he figured I had type 2 diabetes.

Well, the good news was I didn’t have type 2 diabetes. I have a rare condition, instead, called diabetes insipidus. Type 1 and Type 2 diabetes effect the pancreas and the way the body handles sugar. Diabetes insipidus is when the kidneys aren’t filtering, and it is also known as “water diabetes”.

Basically, I was thirsty all the time and peeing a LOT. I thought this was a side effect from my medication cocktail. Meds dry you out, so I’d drink a lot of water, juice, etc, and well, urinate a lot as well. Seems like a good explanation.

My doctor immediately pulled me off Lithium, no tapering down or anything and it was time to start looking for a new drug. I take Depakote now, but it’s not the same. And coming off Lithium cold turkey did wonders for my moods. NOT.

I didn’t lose any weight coming off of the Lithium. The diabetes insipidus didn’t go away in three months like they said it would. I have a physical tomorrow and am getting referred to a kidney doctor, and a new psychiatrist, as mine is retiring in 10 days. (Thanks for the short notice, asshole!)

Okay, so back to lithium. It is the only true mood stabilizer. Lithium affects the flow of sodium through nerve and muscle cells in the body(1). Sodium effects mania. Oh, I also craved salt like nothing else when I was on lith. I practically needed a salt lick. (Lithium is a salt by chemical structure)

Image

With lithium, there is a therepeutic dose, found by blood tests, which should be done once a week for the first month or so, then every other week, then every month, every three months, etc. It ranges from 0.4-1.2mmol/L in the blood. Anything lower than 0.4 means lithium isn’t effective, and if you go too high, the lithium doesn’t work either, and you can get toxic from the lithium.

Lithium toxicity has some very unfun symptoms as the following: nausea, vomiting, diarrhea, drowsiness, muscle weakness, tremor, lack of coordination, blurred vision, or ringing in your ears.

Lithium effects the kidneys and thyroid. Both can be countered with other medications, but if it gets really bad, it’s time to discontinue.

Side effects that put up a red flag to STOP taking lithium (with a doctor’s discretion!) are: extreme thirst/urination, weakness, restlessness, eye pain, blurry vision, restless movements in the eyes, tongue, jaw or neck, pain, cold feeling, discoloration in the fingers or toes, feeling light-headed, fainting, bradycardia, hallucinations, seizures, fevers.

Common side effects are a minor tremor in the hands. Everyone noticed my tremor. They thought I was nervous or in shock. It made soldering in electrical engineering very hard. Sometimes there is weakness or lack of coordination, nausea, and itching. I sometimes got nauseous, but the tremor (and kidney problems) were the main side effects I ended up with. My level was ~0.8, which is a good level.

Lithium doesn’t play well with NSAID’s, it can increase the amount of lith in your body by 150% and send you into toxicity. Doctor’s rarely listened to that when I informed them I was on lith. My pharmacy would catch the interaction, call the doctor, and give me something else. Pain in the ass!

Lithium prevents mania, but studies have shown that it is very effective when combined with an anti-depressant for treating depression.

“Upon ingestion, lithium becomes widely distributed in the central nervous system and interacts with a number of neurotransmitters and receptors, decreasing norepinephrine release and increasing serotonin synthesis.”(2)

If you read my article on glutamate here’s another fun fact:

“The University of Wisconsin researchers found that lithium exerts a dual effect on receptors for the neurotransmitter glutamate – acting to keep the amount of glutamate active between cells at a stable, healthy level, neither too much nor too little.”

I’m full of fun facts tonight:

“For the last 60 years, lithium has been the preferred treatment for bipolar disorder, but little research has been carried out to discover how it impacts the brain and the body clock. New research from the University of Manchester has found that lithium strengthens the body clock’s rhythms, which could lead to new treatments with fewer side effects.”(3)

Lithium has been used for 60 years, one of the oldest psychiatric medications. It is incredibly effective in many people, if they can tolerate the side effects. I loved it, but I need my kidneys.

1. http://www.drugs.com/lithium.html
2. http://bipolar.about.com/od/lithium/a/010312_lithium1.htm
3. http://psychcentral.com/news/2012/03/14/regulating-body-clock-may-be-key-to-treating-bipolar-disorder/35966.html