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Psychopharmacol Bull. 1990;26(3):343-7.

Reduced rate of recurrent genital herpes infections with lithium carbonate.

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Depression Research Unit, Hospital of the University of Pennsylvania, Philadelphia 19104.


Preliminary observations indicate that lithium carbonate may have an anti-herpes simplex virus activity. We conducted a randomized, double-blind, placebo-controlled trial of oral lithium therapy in 10 healthy women with chronic, recurrent genital herpes infections. During one year of lithium treatment at a mean (+/- SD) daily dose of 587 +/- 49 mg and an average plasma lithium level of 0.51 mEq/L, we observed a significant reduction in the total monthly duration of all herpes episodes (p less than .01), the average duration of each herpes infection (p less than .01), the maximum symptom severity (p less than .01), and a clinical severity index score (p less than .004). The onset of prophylaxis was gradual, with the duration of each episode declining by an average of 0.5 days per month. The present data indicate that chronic lithium therapy may be effective in preventing recurrent genital herpes infections.

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