Vanadium, Vitamins C and Bipolar Syndrome

Vanadium is a trace mineral naturally occurring in our diet, it’s not completely clear whether or not vanadium is essential to maintaining health and life, however it does appear to play a role in certain body functions. 

There is some research that suggests supplementing vanadium may help glucose entry into the cells and be beneficial for insulin resistant type diabetes. Vanadium may assist the body to destroy cancer cells by promoting what is called apoptosis. Vanadium may be important for laying down new phone and preventing osteoporosis.

Vanadium & Bipolar
There is a little evidence primarily conducted in the early 1980s that lowering levels of vanadium may improve bipolar syndrome.

I believe the relationship between vanadium and bipolar syndrome may turn out to be fairly straightforward, it appears that vanadium interferes with the activity of lithium within our body. As you will know increasing the levels of lithium through the use of lithium carbonate drugs is used as a treatment for bipolar syndrome.   Although the high dose of lithium prescribed by psychiatric medicine for bipolar syndrome is both somewhat toxic and unpleasant for users to take it is nevertheless effective for most people. Let’s not forget that lithium is also a naturally occurring mineral present in our diet; it has a role in stabilising serotonin function in the nervous system, it’s involved in the transportation of sodium within our tissues, benefit the immune system and plays a central role in the enzymes that regulate our internal biological clock (the suprachiasmatic nucleus)[INSERT LINK]. Interestingly disturbances in the timing of sleep-wake cycle is almost always found in people with bipolar syndrome because of malfunctioning of the biological clock. 

By antagonising the mood stabilising and anti-mania activity of lithium within the body elevated vanadium levels may be a problem for people with bipolar syndrome. It’s easy to counteract and reduce vanadium levels with the use of a relatively high dose of vitamin C. At first glance it sounds preposterous that vitamins C could be an effective treatment for mania or bipolar syndrome however when one understands that the vitamin C detoxifies vanadium and that vanadium suppresses the activity of lithium it makes plausible sense. A double-blind, placebo-controlled, crossover study in 1981 [Naylor] showed that both manic and depressed patients experienced a reduction in their symptoms following a single dose of 3 g of vitamin C along with the minerals to you later EDTA. It was also reported in the same journal in 1982 that bipolar patients have an increased plasma vanadium level compared to people without bipolar syndrome and that in patients with bipolar disorder but not in “normals” increased plasma vanadium correlates with decreased activity of what is called the sodium potassium pump (Na-K ATPase). Administration of lithium increases the activity of the sodium potassium pump, and appears to antagonise and lower vanadium levels.
[Vanadium: a possible aetiological factor in manic-depressive illness. Psychological medicine May 1981 Naylor, Smith]
[plasma vanadium concentration in manic-depressive illness. Dick 1982]
[vanadium and other trace elements in patients taking lithium. Biological psychiatry. 1988. Campbell et al.]
[Defective genetic control of sodium-pump density in manic-depressive psychosis. Psychological medicine. 1981.Naylor Smith]

The Bottom Line

If a daily dose of 3 g cheap vitamins C can prevent excess vanadium activity depressing healthy mood stabilising natural lithium activity and assist in the management of bipolar syndrome it would seem foolish not to use it. Vitamin C that this kind of dosage has many additional health benefits and could be continued on an ongoing basis. Alternatively you could use it on an as and when needed basis at times when your bipolar syndrome is relapsing and you are losing control. 

Prescription for Quickly Reducing Vanadium

To antagonise vanadium and lower its levels more efficiently and quickly supplement chromium, calcium, potassium (justly lots of vegetables), iodine, sodium, and sulphur. 
·         Take a multi mineral containing chromium, iodine and calcium with a very high vegetable dinner, say liquidised vegetable soup. You can use sea salt seasoning to add sodium and iodine.
·         An alternative source of iodine can be obtained by buying 2% iodine tincture and applying a dab to the skin about to centimetres or three quarters of an inch across.
·         Supplementing 1000 mg of MSM Sulphur is optional.
·         Before going to bed take 3 to 4 g of vitamin C, on this occasion the best choice of vitamin C would actually be the cheapest, simple ascorbic acid. Use tablets and avoid ascorbic acid powder as it can cause acid erosion to your dental enamel as it passes through the mouth.
·         A recommended optional extra would be the use of 1000 mg of the amino acid cysteine both last thing at night along with a vitamin C and first thing in the morning at least 30 minutes before breakfast. This act as chief dating agent and will further assist the removal of vanadium from the urine.
In addition to diminishing the vanadium levels in the above manner you should simultaneously supplement your lithium levels my choices to use a very low dose of lithium called Lithinase 2 to 4 tablets a day. 
At the same time as taking the above prescription at least temporarily until your condition is well under control again you would ideally avoid foods rich in vanadium, these include: black Pepper, radishes, mushrooms, cereal grains, soy products, shellfish, tuna, some commercially raised chicken and turkey as they are fed meal with a high vanadium content. 
Once your condition is in remission again you could relax any of the above dietary restrictions and simply maintain the consumption of a multi mineral and 3 g of vitamin C on a daily basis.

My Personal Anecdote

It has often been a source of curiosity for me that I am able to obtain significant therapeutic benefits for my own bipolar syndrome and in my patients for from a dosage of lithium hundreds of times less than the dose of lithium in the lithium carbonate used in pharmaceutical medicine. I believe that this is possible because of the combination of the other remedies that enables me to gain benefits from such a low dose of lithium. I regularly take in excess of 3 g of vitamin C per day, because I feel just feel better for it, along with chromium, iodine and a high potassium diet, this combination will naturally keep my vanadium levels in check. I also take  a thousand milligrams of EPA (fish oil) per day which it has been suggested may facilitate the functioning of lithium within the brain.
Additional Research
Tissue Vanadium Levels in Manic Depressive Psychosis (1984).
Vanadium and Manic-Depressive Psychosis (1984).
Vanadium - a Possible Anecdotal Factor in Manic Depressive Illness 1981

Bipolar Treatment Main Menu:

Section 1  
Understanding Bipolar Neurotransmitters & Treatment
Section 2 
How to Monitor you Bipolar Phases to Adjust your Prescription
Section 3 
Treating Bipolar Mania
Section 4 
Treating Bipolar Depression
Section 5 
Putting It All Together
How to Combine Natural Therapies to Manage and Live Well with Bipolar Syndrome
Section 6 
Universal Bipolar Helpers:
Darkness Therapy for Bipolar Mania
Sleep Cycles & Bipolar Syndrome
Stabilising Blood Sugar
Omega-3 Fish Oils for Bipolar Depression
Lithium Friend or Foe
Vanadium Toxicity & Bipolar Syndrome
Detoxifying Heavy Metals
Bipolar Treatment Articles:
Lecithin & Choline Reduce Bipolar Mania
Bipolar Drugs
Drugs & Weight Gain
Addiction & Bipolar Syndrome
NAC-Cysteine Anti-oxidant & Antidepressant
Be Well


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What I Treat

I treat and coach people with mental health problems at my London clinic and via Skype how to use natural remedies, diet, brain training meditations, sleep and specific physical exercises to treat the health of the brain for mental health problems including:
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I regret that at this time do not treat psychotic conditions including schizophrenia at this time. 

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 © –Holistic Medicine Consultant-
For a more information on my practice and a list of conditions I treat click here About My Practice 
Over the years I’ve trained in Nutritional /naturopathic medicine, Cognitive Hypnotherapy and NLP, body-centred psychotherapy, Chinese herbal medicine, Acupuncture, Bicom resonance therapy, meditation and Kundalini yoga, in the past I specialised in digestive health problems including IBS, bloating, candida, parasites, constipation, Heavy metal detoxification and chronic fatigue syndrome including adrenal exhaustion. I practice at the Hale Clinic (central London) and via Skype as a holistic medical practitioner and have been in practice since 1988.
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