Scientists Suggest Government Should Add Psych Meds to Public Drinking Water

A new study is currently under way in Scotland to assess whether lithium in drinking water is linked with lower suicide rates. The finding may result in a renewed push to add yet another bioactive substance to public water supplies.


Researchers from Oita University in Japan released the results of a study conducted in 2009, shwoing that areas of the country with naturally higher  occurring levels of lithium in the water had lower levels of suicide than regions with less natural lithium. This prompted a host of calls by both the public and some experts alike for lithium to be added to public water supplies, just as fluoride is added by many municipalities.

Lithium is a naturally occurring chemical element that, at high doses, is used for the treatment of bipolar disorder and severe depression. Side effects of lithium use at these doses include hypothyroidism, weight gain and kidney failure.

Lithium's Health Effects Still Under Scrutiny

In a study conducted in 1990 among 27 Texan counties, it was found that those with the highest levels of lithium in the water had suicide rates as much as 40 percent lower than counties with the lowest levels. Lower levels of homicide and rape were also associated with higher rates of lithium.

This research was replicated by the Oita team in 2009. The study compared 18 Japanese municipalities and found similar suicide statistics. The Japanese study has been copied and replicated several times since then, with most studies finding similar results. There are a handful of  studies finding no correlation.

A Scottish research team is now conducting a similar version of the Japanese study. They are attempting to correct for some of the implentation and methodical flaws of earlier research.

"We want to improve the methodology by looking at smaller postcode areas," lead research Daniel Smith said.

Results are expected in 2016.

Violation of Informed Consent

Even if the Scottish team's findings contradict prior studies, the idea of adding lithium to the water may already have taken on a life of its own. In a recent editorial for The New York Times, Weill Cornel Medical College psychiatrist downplayed the risks of lithium supplementation, calling the debate "moot."

"Mother Nature has already put a psychotropic drug in the drinking water, and that drug is lithium," she wrote.

In 2010, bioethicist and medical historian Jacob M. Appel prominently called for adding lithium to water in a Huffington Post editorial, if further research showed acceptably low risk.

Jacob Appel wrote:

If low-dose lithium proves as good as its promise, we should not allow abstract arguments about our 'freedom' to drink unadulterated water to prevent us from undertaking a mass fortification effort.

He then went on to suggest that it might also be good to add cholesterol-lowering (and brain-killing) statins to public water, along with "thiamine [to] prevent dementia in alcoholics."

"Some nay-sayers will inevitably argue that medically fortifying the public water is a violation of individual liberty," he dismissively wrote. "Of course, nobody is forcing those dissident individuals to drink tap water. They are welcome to purchase bottled water."

Putting questions of risk, effectiveness and  civil liberty aside, a host of critics have argued that no water fortification effort could ever be ethical. According to Robert Carton, a former EPA senior scientist, adding any drug to drinking water violates a patient's right to give informed consent before undergoing any medical intervention. And in this case, everyone who drinks water becomes a patient.

Carton and others have applied the same critique to water fluoridation.

Carton wrote in the International Journal of Occupational and Environmental Health:

All ethical codes for the protection of individuals who are subject to medical procedures, whether research or routine medical treatment, endorse the basic requirement for voluntary informed consent.

Some critics have reserved a more serious note stating that adding drugs to public water violates medical ethics by making it impossible to customize doses to individuals' medical needs and risk profiles.

If you enjoyed reading this article and want to see more like this one, we'd be humbled if you would help us spread the word and share it with your friends and family. Join us in our quest to promote free, useful information to all!

Scientists Suggest Government Should Add Psych Meds to Public Drinking Water Scientists Suggest Government Should Add Psych Meds to Public Drinking Water Reviewed by Admin on 16:23:00 Rating: 5
Copyright Organic & Healthy 2016. Powered by Blogger.