Lithium for bipolar disorder
Written by Erik Levi, FNTP — Updated on June 13, 2021


  • Bipolar disorder is a complex condition that requires professional help in most cases

  • Certain nootropics may take the edge off the rapid swings associated with this disorder

  • Nootropics could be useful as part of a holistic approach to smooth out and stabilize the highs and lows define BPD

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Bipolar Disorder (BD) is a psychiatric disorder characterized by mood disturbances with recurrent episodes of mania, hypomania, and depression.1Vihang N. Vahia. Diagnostic and statistical manual of mental disorders 5: A quick glance Indian J Psychiatry. 2013

Also known as manic-depression, bipolar depression is prevalent in about 2-3% of the population. It is a chronic, lifetime disorder that can be debilitating if left unchecked. Luckily, it is treatable through therapy and medication.

And, there is evidence that nootropic supplements may be useful for some people with bipolar disorder as an adjunct treatment.

What Are The Best Nootropics for Bipolar Disorder - Quick Answers

Lithium OrotateImportant trace element with profound mental effectsLearn More
Magnesium#1 Magnesium ProductLearn More
Mind Lab Pro#1 Nootropic For BeginnersLearn More
A staple in Eastern medicineLearn More
Qualia MindMost Nootropics Per ServingLearn More
Blood Sugar BreakthroughStabilizes and promotes healthy blood sugar levelsLearn More
Chaga MushroomOne of the most powerful antioxidants on EarthLearn More
GABAYour body's natural relaxantLearn More
Uridine MonophosphateOne of the basic building blocks of your bodyLearn More
PhosphatidylcholineCrucial component of all neural cellsLearn More
NACVersatile and effective all-round cognitive supplementLearn More
CiticolineSupercharged source of choline for your brainLearn More
AdrafinilA legal over-the-counter version on ModafinilLearn More

Types of Bipolar Disorder

There are multiple varieties of bipolar disorder, each with distinct symptoms:

  • Bipolar I Disorder: defined by manic episodes that last at least 7 days, or by manic symptoms that are so severe that the person needs immediate hospital care. Usually, depressive episodes occur as well, typically lasting at least 2 weeks. Episodes of depression with mixed features (having depression and manic symptoms at the same time) are also possible.
  • Bipolar II Disorder: defined by a pattern of depressive episodes and hypomanic episodes, but not the full-blown manic episodes of Bipolar I.
  • Cyclothymic Disorder (cyclothymia): defined by periods of hypomanic symptoms as well as numerous periods of depressive symptoms lasting for at least 2 years (1 year in children and adolescents). However, the symptoms do not meet the diagnostic requirements for a hypomanic episode and a depressive episode.

Other Specified and Unspecified Bipolar and Related Disorders: defined by bipolar disorder symptoms that do not match the three categories listed above.2Bipolar Disorder, National Instistute Of Mental Health. 2016

Nootropics for Bipolar disotder, Nootropics bipolar
Bipolar disorder is a very common mental health issue that effects about 3% of the population according to some estimates.

Bipolar Disorder and ADHD

Attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) and bipolar disorder (BD) are highly correlated.3Pataki C, Carlson GA. Curr Psychiatry Rep. 2013

Both disorders involve similar executive function deficits.4Goldberg JF, Chengappa KN. Bipolar Disord. 2009

In fact, emotional and cognitive deficits are present in each disorder and can appear similar. Mood lability (uncontrollable, exaggerated, rapid changes in mood) in ADHD can appear similar to mood dysregulation in BD.5Miller S, Chang KD, Ketter TA. J Clin Psychiatry. 2013

Similarly, manic episodes in BD can be mistaken as hyperactivity, a trademark symptom of ADHD.6Author Name. Curr Med Res Opin. 2014

READ MORE: How Leaky Brain Affects Your Mental Health

Is Bipolar A Disability?

According to the World Health Organization, bipolar disorder is a severe psychiatric illness that has been ranked as one of the 20 leading medical causes of disability.7World Health Organization. WHO. 2011

Bipolar disorder continues to be associated with substantial morbidity and mortality. It ranks behind only depression and alcohol abuse for related disabilities and overall economic load.8Alan D. Lopez & Christopher C.J.L. Murray. Nature. 1998

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Traditional Bipolar Disorder Treatment Efficacy

There has been a substantial expansion of research into bipolar disorder and potential treatments during the past two decades. Despite this, true advances have been few.

The underlying mechanism of this disease is largely unknown, and many of the current treatments are just extensions of treatments for other conditions. For example, using antipsychotics for manic episodes, and antidepressants for depressive episodes.

Lithium remains unique because its main therapeutic use is in bipolar disorder, so investigating its mechanism of action is crucially important in the identification of future targets.9John R Geddes, David J Miklowitz Lancet. 2013

Nootropics for bipolar, supplements help with bipolar, bipolar help
Some nootropics may potentially be useful adjuncts to traditional therapy

The treatment of bipolar depression is a major challenge, with few treatments of proven efficacy and, in particular, substantial controversy about the role of antidepressant drugs.

Are Anti-depressants Effective in Treating Bipolar Disorder?

Antidepressants are commonly used to treat BD with little evidence they are effective. 10John R Geddes, David J Miklowitz Lancet. 2013 11Yatham LN, et al. Bipolar Disord. 2013

In fact, a recent updated meta-analysis of antidepressants in bipolar depression reported that the statistically significant effects were no different from placebo.12Sidor MM, MacQueen GM. Curr Psychiatry Rep. 2012

The antiepileptic drug lamotrigine has shown promise, at least initially. Researchers investigated it after they saw some clinical benefit with the drug in patients with bipolar disorder.13Weisler RH, et al. J Affect Disord. 2008

However, a meta-analysis of individual patient-level data from five trials of lamotrigine in bipolar depression reported a modest treatment effect; however, no one trial showed statistically significant benefits of treatment with lamotrigine in comparison with placebo.

Thus, the place of lamotrigine in acute treatment remains uncertain.14Geddes JR, Calabrese JR, Goodwin GM. Br J Psychiatry. 2009

To date, lithium remains the most effective clinical medication for bipolar disorder.

Non-Medication Treatments for Bipolar Disorder

Psychological therapy (with or without medication) specifically designed for bipolar disorder is effective in preventing or delaying relapses in bipolar disorders.15Miklowitz DJ, et al. Arch Gen Psychiatry. 2008

One study reported that patients who received 12–14 sessions of cognitive-behavioral therapy were less likely to have depressive episodes and had better social functioning than patients who did not for years afterward.16Kessing LV, et al. Br J Psychiatry. 2013

It also appears that family-focused therapy is effective (in combination with pharmaceuticals) in stabilizing bipolar depressive symptoms among adolescents.17Miklowitz DJ, et al. Arch Gen Psychiatry. 2008

Treating circadian rhythm irregularities by improving sleep has also shown a lot of promise for patients with bipolar disorder, who often have sleep disorders.18Frank E, et al. Arch Gen Psychiatry. 2005

Why Nootropics for Bipolar Disorder?

Nootropics helps with bipolar, does nootropics help with bipolar?
There’s a number of holistic options that may be effective for this condition

Nootropic supplements may be an option for treating some of the symptoms of bipolar disorder. They tend to have a much milder side effect profile than traditional pharmaceuticals.

However, these supplements should not be considered a substitute for treatment by a licensed physician. Therapy and medication are still the most reliable ways to manage bipolar disorder, and nootropics are not a substitute for professional help.

However, there is evidence that some of them can help certain aspects associated with bipolar disorder.

Best Nootropics For Bipolar Disorder

1. Lithium Orotate

lithium orotate for bipolar disorder

Important trace element with profound mental effects

    Lithium is a naturally occurring trace mineral that your body requires for proper metabolism and nerve health.

    Introduced by John Cade in 1949, lithium remains the best established long-term treatment for bipolar disorder.19CADE JF. Med J Aust. 1949

    A meta-analysis of five placebo-controlled lithium maintenance trials showed that lithium significantly reduces the risk of manic relapses.20Geddes JR, et al. Am J Psychiatry. 2004

    2. Magnesium Breakthrough

    Magnesium for Studying

    #1 Magnesium Product

      As per several scientific literature, magnesium has demonstrated its effectiveness against severe manic agitation and bipolar disorder. This can be due to the resemblance in chemical structure and properties with Lithium, the drug of choice to stabilize mood and manage bipolar disorder.21G Chouinard , L Beauclair, R Geiser, P Etienne, A pilot study of magnesium aspartate hydrochloride (Magnesiocard) as a mood stabilizer for rapid cycling bipolar affective disorder patients, Prog Neuropsychopharmacol Biol Psychiatry. 1990

      Hence, regular intake of dietary magnesium may lighten the need and dosage of Lithium. However, it is important to note that magnesium cannot replace Lithium entirely.22Mihai Nechifor, Magnesium in psychoses (schizophrenia and bipolar disorders), University of Adelaide Press; 2011

      Magnesium has also been found to help individuals with bipolar disorder who experience gradual irregularities in sleeping patterns prior to the manic episode.23Ewa Poleszak , Bernadeta Szewczyk, Ewa Kedzierska, Piotr Wlaź, Andrzej Pilc, Gabriel Nowak, Antidepressant- and anxiolytic-like activity of magnesium in mice, Pharmacol Biochem Behav. 2004

      Magnesium Breakthrough is full-spectrum magnesium supplement as it contains seven different forms of magnesium in an optimized ratio to provide best outcome for conditions like insomnia, depression, chronic anxiety and bipolar disorder.

      3. Mind Lab Pro

      Mind Lab Pro Best Nootropic for Bipolar Disorder

      #1 Nootropic For Beginners

        • Mind Lab Pro is a potent formula for treating bipolar disorder.
        • The 11 included nootropics include the ability to boost neurotransmitters, lower inflammation, and modulate your HPA axis' stress response.
        • Ingredients like CDP-choline, Lion's Mane, and phosphatidylserine enhance acetylcholine. 
        • Bacopa monnieri, L-theanine, and Pine Bark extract lower inflammation and keep you calm.
        • The supplements themselves are 3rd party tested and free of excess fillers and toxic ingredients. 
        • I love this stack for nootropic newbies and experienced nootropic users alike.

        4. Reishi

        A staple in Eastern medicine

          Reishi mushroom has been used traditionally for many years to boost the immune system, and support overall mental health.24Emmanuelle Bostock, Kenneth Kirkby, Michael Garry, Bruce Taylor, and Jason A. Hawrelak, Mania Associated With Herbal Medicines, Other Than Cannabis: A Systematic Review and Quality Assessment of Case Reports, Front Psychiatry. 2018

          This mushroom has been shown to be successful at treating chronic emotional distress caused by psychiatric disorders like bipolar disorder.25Pengjiao Zeng, Zhihua Guo, Xuan Zeng, Cui Hao, Yiran Zhang, Meng Zhang, Yong Liu, Hui Li, Juan Li, Lijuan Zhang, Chemical, biochemical, preclinical and clinical studies of Ganoderma lucidum polysaccharide as an approved drug for treating myopathy and other diseases in China, JCMM. 2018

          In clinical studies, reishi has been found to ease warning signs and symptoms of bipolar disorder which include mood swings, states of confusion, sleeplessness, and overall low mood.26Sissi Wachtel-Galor, John Yuen, John A. Buswell, and Iris F. F. Benzie, Chapter 9Ganoderma lucidum (Lingzhi or Reishi), CRC Press/Taylor & Francis. 2011

          Freshcap Mushrooms provide the highest percentage of beta glucans and fruiting body nutrients, making this mushroom product my preferred choice for Reishi.

          5. Qualia

          Qualia Mind For Bipolar Disorder

          Most Nootropics Per Serving

            • Qualia Mind offers a lot of support for those who have Bipolar Disorder.
            • The advanced formula includes adaptogens, which can help regulate stress hormones. These include:
            • Rhodiola Rosea
            • Bacopa Monnieri 
            • Mucuna Pruriens
            • Phosphatidylserine
          • The Amino acids and nootropics boost neurotransmitter production and synthesis
          • You also get B-vitamins, vitamins C, and D3 co-factors to optimize neurotransmitter synthesis.
          • Caffeinated and non-caffeinated versions are available

          • 6. Blood Sugar Breakthrough

            Blood Sugar Breakthrough

            Stabilizes and promotes healthy blood sugar levels

              Research shows that the prevalence of Diabetes Mellitus among individuals diagnosed with Bipolar Disorder might be up to three times greater in comparison to the general population.27Roger S McIntyre, Jakub Z Konarski, Virginia L Misener, Sidney H Kennedy, Bipolar disorder and diabetes mellitus: epidemiology, etiology, and treatment implications, Ann Clin Psychiatry. 2005

              Patients with glucose metabolism abnormalities are at a higher risk to suffer from bipolar disorder.

              A hyperglycemic state induces oxidative stress on the body which is associated with cognitive impairment, and increased irritability, hence, a person may experience more frequent and severe episodes of extreme mood swings that include emotional highs (mania or hypomania) and lows (depression).

              Although the detailed mechanisms of the interplay between the brain, endocrine disturbances and psychological disorders are unknown, it is fair to say that formulations such as Blood Sugar Breakthrough, that consist of multipotent ingredients with neuroprotective effects can be very beneficial for overall wellbeing.28Cynthia V Calkin , David M Gardner, Thomas Ransom, Martin Alda, The relationship between bipolar disorder and type 2 diabetes: more than just co-morbid disorders, Ann Med. 201329Tomas Hajek, Roger McIntyre, Martin Alda, Bipolar disorders, type 2 diabetes mellitus, and the brain, Curr Opin Psychiatry. 2016

              7. Chaga

              One of the most powerful antioxidants on Earth

                Chaga mushroom contains naturally occurring molecules that help with chronic neurological symptoms of bipolar disorder such as moody nature, unwarranted aggression, and feeling spontaneously sad.30Zhiguo Li , Junjie Mei, Liping Jiang, Chengyan Geng, Qiujuan Li, Xiaofeng Yao, Jun Cao , Chaga Medicinal Mushroom, Inonotus obliquus (Agaricomycetes) Polysaccharides Suppress Tacrine-induced Apoptosis by ROS-scavenging and Mitochondrial Pathway in HepG2 Cells, Int J Med Mushrooms. 2019

                This mushroom improves the overall mind-body connection as it has been proven to boost the immune system and help with multiple health concerns including inflammation, and overwhelming oxidative stress.

                It has the potential to protect brain cells and its components against free radicals and support mental health by reducing anxiety, depression, fatigue, and stress.31Honghai Hu Zhenya Zhang Zhongfang Lei Yingnan Yang Norio Sugiura, Comparative study of antioxidant activity and antiproliferative effect of hot water and ethanol extracts from the mushroom Inonotus obliquus, Journal of Bioscience and Bioengineering. 2009

                All of these benefits work synergistically to stabilize mental well-being and lower instances of bipolar disorder.32Vijayasree Vayalanellore Giridharan, Rajarajan Amirthalingam Thandavarayan, Tetsuya Konishi, Amelioration of scopolamine induced cognitive dysfunction and oxidative stress by Inonotus obliquus - a medicinal mushroom, Food Funct. 2011

                Freshcap Mushrooms provide the highest percentage of beta glucans and fruiting body nutrients, making this mushroom product my preferred choice for Chaga.

                8. GABA

                Your body's natural relaxant

                  Research implicates abnormalities in the GABA receptor system as a potential cause of bipolar disorder. 33Stoll AL, et al. Biol Psychiatry. 1996

                  It is possible that supplementing with GABA may be useful for this condition.

                  9. Uridine Monophosphate

                  Uridine Monophosphate for Bipolar Disorder

                  One of the basic building blocks of your body

                    There is some preliminary evidence that uridine monophosphate may be able to treat depressive symptoms in adolescents.34Douglas G. Kondo, et al. J Child Adolesc Psychopharmacol. 2011

                    Uridine monophosphate is a naturally occurring compound that forms part of your body's RNA. It is critical for cellular metabolism and can improve overall cognition.

                    Theoretically, this could ease some of the symptoms of this disease.

                    10. Phosphatidylcholine

                    Phosphatidylcholine for Bipolar Disorder

                    Crucial component of all neural cells

                      Choline supplementation could be useful for patients suffering from bipolar disorder alongside lithium treatment.35Stoll AL, et al. Biol Psychiatry. 1996

                      According to one case study, phosphatidylcholine showed significant improvements in insomnia for a patient with rapid cycling BD.36Shitao Rao, et al. Springerplus. 2015

                      11. NAC

                      NAC for Bipolar Disorder

                      Versatile and effective all-round cognitive supplement

                        NAC is a powerful antioxidant that fights inflammation caused by stress. Therefore, it may be useful in fighting some symptoms of bipolar disorder as an add-on treatment.37P Ellegard, et al. International Journal of Bipolar Disorders. 2018

                        12. Citicoline

                        Citicoline for bipolar disorder

                        Supercharged source of choline for your brain

                          Like phosphatidylcholine, citicoline is a powerful source of choline. This makes it potentially valuable for treating this disorder.

                          There is one trial that suggests this may be the case, although it was specifically looking at bipolar patients who also had cocaine addictions.38Brown ES, et al. Am J Psychiatry. 2015

                          13. Adrafinil

                          Adrafinil for Bipolar Disorder

                          A legal over-the-counter version on Modafinil

                            Adrafinil is an atypical stimulant that may be effective for treating fatigue and depressive symptoms in patients with bipolar disorder. It also has a much lower side-effect profile than traditional stimulants.39Goss AJ, et al. J Clin Psychiatry. 2013 40Calabrese JR, et al. J Clin Psychiatry. 2010

                            Wrapping Up

                            Is there another Nootropic or supplement out there you are using to treat bipolar symptoms?

                            Let us know in the comments!

                            About the author:

                            Erik Levi, FNTP

                            Erik Levi is a co-founder of and a certified holistic nutritional therapy practitioner.

                            As an NTP Erik takes a nutrition first approach to health. He has worked with many different people to help them use nutrition to optimize their quality of life.

                            Erik believes that mental health is a physiological process and cognitive enhancement is not something that can be achieved by just taking some pills with good Amazon reviews.

                            Instead, true cognitive enhancement comes with the right balance of nutrients, movement, and gratitude. Erik continues to stay up to date with the most current nootropic and holistic health research and promises to deliver the best solutions possible.

                            You can check out his personal health blog/podcast/YouTube Channel all under the name Holistic A-Hole.

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