According to a recent study published in the journal Nature Communications entitled “A safe lithium mimetic for bipolar disorder,” British researchers are exploring a medication called ebselen as a possible treatment for bipolar disorder in humans. Originally developed to treat stroke, ebselen may be as effective as lithium in treating bipolar mania but carry fewer and less serious side effects than lithium.

As the article points out,

Lithium is the most effective mood stabilizer for the treatment of bipolar disorder, but it is toxic at only twice the therapeutic dosage and has many undesirable side effects.

13 Comments to
Ebselen May Work Like Lithium with Fewer Serious Side Effects

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  1. This sounds very interesting and promising to me. I take lithium, and it is very effective for treating my bipolar 1 symptoms BUT I hate the weight gain aspect, and lithium also seems to weaken my muscles, so that I’m less able to work out like I would like to.
    I’d love to hear more soon…and/or be involved in a research study for ebselen.

  2. When will it be available in the US???

    • We don’t know. Studies on humans haven’t even started yet. I jokingly told my wife that the medication is available in the UK, but you have to be a mouse to get it. We’ll keep an eye on this for any news about further developments.

  3. Hello Cecie,

    I was just recently in the hospital due to a bad bipolar depression. They gave me Lithium but scared the hell out of when they said if I don’t drink enough water the levels can turn toxic. I felt if the rest for Lithium can turn toixc unless I drank 6-8 glasses of water. And that was only one problem.

    The point I was getting to is another choice. Apparently, the reason psych hospitals push the Lithium is because it has the fastest reaction time. Although I had to stay 2 more days longer, they started me on Lamictal 25mg. Seems to make a difference. Maybe you can discuss it with your doctor and see if you can give it a try and see if the results are better. Wish you the best.

  4. This is scary since the article clearly states IT HAS NOT BEEN TESTED ON HUMANS YET I guess they meant bipolar guinea pigs right? Lithium totally screwed my blood pressure up & I couldn’t eat & climb the walls til I stopped! So now they say this will stop the maina? How do they know? Plz don’t print crap like this until it’s known how this affects HUMAN bipolar folks versus what?!

  5. I would love to try something like this in the future. Even at low serum levels like 0.3-0.4, lithium gives me such a bad tremor that it is impossible to perform my chosen profession (neonatal icu nursing) and it becomes extremely distracting socially. The goiter got so bad that I was having trouble swallowing.

    If it controls mania I wonder if it also works on the depressive side. I’ve only had 2 hypomanic episodes in 17 years, but many depressive ones. Fortunately no full mania!

  6. When is the trial going to start and how long will it be before we know the results of the trial for bipolar?

  7. I have read about the many unpleasant side effects of lithium.
    So let’s hope that Ebselen can be brought to patients as fast as possible.
    I don’t have bipolar myself, but a close family member does and I know this will be good news for her.
    I just hope the testing procedure is as thorough as possible though.
    Brad

  8. I was put on Lithium when first dxed w/bipolar 1 & I was amazed at how good I felt. I wondered if this was how everyone else felt–no inner chaos & turmoil & emotional pain constantly weighing me down. But, unfortunately, I had kidney malfunction (found in blood tests) even on low dosage & drinking large amounts of water. Told doc I couldn’t possibly drink any more water. I was very happy–IN THE BATHROOM, THOUGH!
    TRIGGER ALERT TRIGGER ALERT TRIGGER ALERT TRIGGER ALERT TRIGGER
    BELOW***************************************************************************************
    So I had to get off Lithium within 3 mos. & then started a year of hell doing trial & error trying to get a cocktail to replicate how good I felt on Lithium–never found it, but not feeling suicidal most days as before & only one serious attempt after 5 mos. of hypo mania that I didn’t realize was dangerous (felt so good & was taking all my meds, but my sleep got all messed up due lots of traveling to different time zones & excitement about seeing old friends; was sleeping only 2-3 hrs. a night, but still feeling really energized, but crashed suddenly into a suicidal depression after 5 mos.).

    Still haven’t been able to get back to previous stability, either. Been 296.62 (bipolar 1/most recent episode mixed of moderate intensity) for 5 YEARS now–it is practically my middle name.

    Have a friend I met in IOP & she did great on Lithium for about 20 years & then got Lithium toxicity–scary. Need to always kept testing.

  9. I have read that this drug also kills Helicobacter Pylori and is also used to treat stroke victims as it is a good antioxidant. It also seems to have an effect on tumors through thioredoxin inhibition. I am looking for an alternative to triple antibiotic therapy for H. Pylori infection. Is it being prescribed for any of these problems yet?

    • Ebselen appears to function as a neuroprotective agent and that is why it may have value in bipolar disorder. It also has anti-bacterial effects, although the mechanism for these effects is not clear. A recent article in the FASEB (Federation of American Societies for Experimental Biology) Journal (2013 Apr;27(4):1394-403. doi: 10.1096/fj.12-223305. Epub 2012 Dec 17.) titled “Inhibition of bacterial thioredoxin reductase: an antibiotic mechanism targeting bacteria lacking glutathione” (Lu J, Vlamis-Gardikas A, Kandasamy K, Zhao R, Gustafsson TN, Engstrand L, Hoffner S, Engman L, Holmgren) finds that Ebsulfur — a related compound — effectively targeted one particular strain of heliobacter pylori.

      Ebselen seems to target bacteria that are lacking in glutathione. Also, there has been at least one animal study looking at ebselen in stroke as well – looking to utilize ebselen’s neuroprotective effect to reduce the damage to brain cells caused by stroke.

      None of these uses of ebselen are in standard clinical care at this time. These projects are all exploring uses of ebselen which is idenfitied as a safe compound but without known medical uses yet. So far these are early studies and nothing is at the level of clinical use yet.

  10. May I ask that any future information on Ebselen, in terms of trial results etc be posted to my email. Is that possible? I would love to know the effectiveness of Ebselen in Bipolar 1 disorder. How wonderful to possibly have a drug that mimics Lithium without the dreadful side affects. A memeber of my family has been diagnosed BP, and he is doing great on Lithium thank God. I look forward to hearing from you with future news. Also any internet sights that you think may be helpul would be greatly appreciated. Kindest regards, Mary

  11. Any update on human trials why are these trials painstakingly slow. It’s likely going to be a dud getting hopes up only to be disappointed. That’s the depression talking me thinks

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