Lithium Carbonate in Medicine and Psychiatry

  • Jan Fawcett
Part of the Advances in Experimental Medicine and Biology book series (AEMB, volume 127)


The history of lithium carbonate is a striking example of the fundamental unity of psychiatry and medicine. The medical use of lithium began in the mid-1800’s somewhat after it was discovered in 1817 by Arfvedson while working in the laboratory of Berzelius (Jefferson and Griest, 1977). Isolated from the mineral petalite and named lithium after the Greek word for stone, it was used ineffectively in the treatment of urinary calculi and gout based on the in vitro observation that uric acid bladder stones dissolved in the lithium salt of uric acid. Lithium became popular as a medical panacea and waters from “lithia” springs were bottled and widely used well into the 1900’s in the unsubstantiated hope that a wide range of medical ills could be cured or prevented. in the early twentieth century, the lithium salt of bromide was used both as a hypnotic and an anti-epileptic agent but this use faded as the use of bromides fell into disfavor.


Lithium Salt Neuroleptic Drug Lithium Therapy Lithium Level Lithium Toxicity 
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Copyright information

© Plenum Press, New York 1980

Authors and Affiliations

  • Jan Fawcett
    • 1
  1. 1.Department of PsychiatryRush-Presbyterian-St. Luke’s Medical CenterChicagoUSA

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