This whole piece on drug marketing and mental illness is fascinating but one thing really surprised me. In its early days, the once ubiquitous soda 7UP contained the mood stabilizing element lithium.
The first thing to know about lithium to understand its strange place in the history of psychiatry is that, unlike all the other drugs, it wasn’t invented in a laboratory. It’s an element. It’s found in the natural world. And it’s found, for example, in certain kinds of spas in Europe that, in the past, bragged about the high lithium content of their drinking water. And so it had a place in spa culture. It had a place as a feel-good tonic. It was, for a period of time, an ingredient in a new lemon-lime soft drink that became quite popular up through the 1950s that gets renamed 7UP [which doesn’t contain lithium today].
Frequently, people know that Coca-Cola used to contain cocaine, but I have never heard that 7UP once contained lithium.