If you suffer from dark moods that rob you of happiness and productivity, you need to know about a place called “Happy Valley.”
In the mid-1800s, the residents of Cherry Valley, N.Y., had a reputation for being carefree and friendly.
Depression and despair seemed to disappear when people came to town. That’s why a newspaper columnist dubbed the village “Happy Valley.”
No one in the little Upstate New York settlement knew exactly why everyone was so upbeat. But they suspected it had something to do with the water. They seemed to feel better after drinking it and not as good when they didn’t.
One resident in 1911 said the water “lightens life’s burdens, lifts the spirits and even, it is said, adds a little snap to the physical passions.”
They also noticed the water left a heavy white residue on containers. In the 1940s, the residue was chemically analyzed.
It was lithium salts.
The spring that had supplied Cherry Valley with water for generations had a much higher concentration of lithium than wells in the surrounding areas.
Lithium is a metal that has been known for its curative powers for centuries.
Lithia Springs, Ga., for example, was an ancient Native American sacred site. They believed the water was “holy.” In the late 19th century, Mark Twain, Theodore Roosevelt, and the Vanderbilts swore by the uplifting properties of Lithia Springs water. 
As the rich and famous flocked to Lithia Springs, lithium drinks became popular among the masses. Lithium was added to the soft drink 7-Up in 1929. Even beer makers started adding it to their brews.
Prior to World War II, doctors started experimenting with lithium. They figured that if a little lithium in spring water and soft drinks was good, more must be better.
They began giving hypertension patients lithium chloride as a substitute for regular salt in the 1940s. But the massive doses were toxic, killing some people. The FDA reacted by banning lithium from all products, including 7-Up. 
The lithium prohibition was not lifted until 1970. That’s when the FDA approved lithium carbonate as drug for severe mania and bipolar disorder. It was found to be more effective than the standard treatment of electroshock therapy.
That same year, the FDA also rescinded the ban on lithium as supplement. But because it was associated with the stigma of mental illness and overdose deaths, it never regained its pre-war popularity.
The Natural Mood-Lifting Mineral
In recent years, researchers have rediscovered what the people of Cherry Valley knew more than 150 years ago: Water naturally high in lithium can lift mood.
In a 2014 review by Tufts University, scientists found widespread evidence that natural lithium in the water reduces depression, suicide, violent crime, and dementia. It cited nine separate studies showing links between trace-dose lithium in the water and improved markers of mental health.
One of the most convincing study was done in 1990. Researchers examined markers of mental health in 27 counties in Texas. Some of the areas have high levels of lithium in the water. Others have practically none. Scientists discovered that the places with high lithium had 50% lower levels of suicide, drug abuse, and violent crime.
The study was met with skepticism. After all, it seems incredible that major social problems like suicide and violence could be solved by the right kind of drinking water.
So in 2012, a consortium of American and Austrian researchers set out to duplicate the study using more recent data. They got the same results. In fact, studies have since found similar effects in Japan, Greece, and Austria. 
A 2015 study published in the Journal of Alzheimer’s Disease concluded that supplemental lithium may have beneficial effects on cognitive performance in people suffering from mild cognitive impairment and Alzheimer’s.
The country with the greatest amount of naturally occurring lithium is Chile. It is the world’s leading producer of lithium for the lithium-ion batteries used in electric cars, cell phones, and other devices. As you might expect, the water supply in much of the country also contains high levels of the element.
A 2013 survey revealed which countries consume the most antidepressant drugs per capita.
The lowest? Chile.
Right about now, you’re probably wondering how much lithium is in your water. That’s difficult to know for sure. Most water utilities don’t test for it. But it’s likely your water has very low levels.
A 2013 U.S. Geological Survey report showed significant lithium levels in only five areas of the United States. They include the Texas panhandle, northern Wyoming, the San Diego area, Upstate New York, and northern Georgia.
Even if you live in one of those areas, the lithium may be removed by your home filtration system before the water crosses your lips.
You can buy natural lithium water, but it is expensive.
A more practical way to get lithium is to take a supplement. There are many kinds of lithium on the market. We recommend lithium orotate. It is more bioavailable than other forms because it crosses the blood-brain barrier more easily.
Lithium orotate is widely available from online retailers and at health food stores. Be sure to consult your doctor before taking it, especially if you are under psychiatric care. Side effects are rare, and usually mild. In some cases, it can cause headaches and stomach issues. Pregnant women should not take it.
If you find yourself falling into despair and bouts of down moods, you don’t have to suffer. Let the secret of Happy Valley help you feel better.
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