The medical use of lithium has evolved considerably since it was first used for gout and rheumatism in the 1800's. It was also used as a salt substitute in patients with hypertension, and was at one point present in the soft drink 7-Up. In the 1970's, the US FDA approved the use of lithium for the treatment of acute mania following studies in the 1950's by Cade and Schou. Currently, lithium is used to treat a variety of disorders including cluster headaches, alcoholism, and Grave's disease. Lithium is most commonly used, however, as the treatment of choice for recurrent bipolar disorder (manic-depressive illness).
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