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Lithium as permanent solution for neuropathic pain?

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    Lithium as permanent solution for neuropathic pain?

    I was at a presentation by Dr. Wise Young in June last year in Campbell California on the topic of clinical trials for his stem cell research. They thought Lithium could help facilitate the regeneration of nerves in the spinal cord so had a cohort of patients to whom they also administered Lithium. While it did not seem to make a meaningful impact in terms of leg function, the patients did report a statistically significant improvement in their neuropathic pain. An improvement that lasted even after they stopped taking Lithium. He mentioned they were planning a Lithium only study focusing on nerve pain. Anybody know if they found any conclusive evidence?

    #2
    I don’t know what doses or for how long they used lithium (maybe you can link to the study?), but lithium comes with pretty significant risks.

    If taken long enough there’s a pretty good chance it will do damage to your thyroid, which isn’t the end of the world because you can take thyroid hormone replacement, but obviously less than ideal. It also has the potential to cause kidney damage, sufficient to the degree that patients on lithium are routinely monitored to kidney damage every 6 months to a year. It had a handful of less permanent, but rather unpleasant potential side effects as well. It’s pretty easy to overdose and die on it as well (the fatal dose is pretty low), and if it’s a hot day and you happen to take some ibuprofen (both dehydration and NSAIDs increase lithium levels) you could easily end up in the hospital with a serious overdose.

    The benefits would have to be pretty pronounced to justify the risks and I think you might have some trouble getting someone to prescribe it to you unless you were a part of a trial since it’s definitely not FDA approved for these purposes nor is it standard practice. Someone would really be hanging their license out there to risk you suing them if you got kidney failure from this unapproved treatment.

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      #3
      The trial has been completed but not yet published. https://www.clinicaltrials.gov/ct2/s...1855594&rank=1

      It basically found that lithium is only effective for those that have severe neuropathic pain, 7-9. It only has to be taken for six weeks, if it does work, the pain doesn't come back after stopping. The dosage is the same as for manic depression. As funklab said, lithium can be dangerous, especially because the effective dose range is close to the toxic dose. For that reason, blood levels must be monitored by an experienced dr. I do know of people who's dr's have prescribed it off-label.

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        #4
        Very interesting.

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          #5
          Originally posted by Jim View Post
          The trial has been completed but not yet published. https://www.clinicaltrials.gov/ct2/s...1855594&rank=1

          It basically found that lithium is only effective for those that have severe neuropathic pain, 7-9. It only has to be taken for six weeks, if it does work, the pain doesn't come back after stopping. The dosage is the same as for manic depression. As funklab said, lithium can be dangerous, especially because the effective dose range is close to the toxic dose. For that reason, blood levels must be monitored by an experienced dr. I do know of people who's dr's have prescribed it off-label.
          Looks like the study finished five years ago. Seems like it could be very interesting. Is there a reason it has not been published yet? Have any other researchers tried to replicate the results?

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            #6
            I don't know why it hasn't been published. Doubt it will be replicated, there is no money to be made.

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