Lithium is a naturally occurring salt that was first used for treating certain psychiatric problems. Several headache specialists recognized that it could be useful in treating cluster headaches as well. This medication acts in the brain to re-regulate hypothalamic and other brain areas related to cluster and some other headaches. It is most useful in cluster headache. Here it is used primarily to treat those who have chronic cluster headache. It may be useful in episodic cluster headache.
The medication does require monitoring both for blood levels to optimize safety and effectiveness, and also for thyroid and kidney functioning, which may in rare cases be effected by this medication with long- term use. Patients should not decrease their salt intake when taking this medication, nor should they take most “water pills,” as this may cause toxic side effects. Drink plenty of water while taking this medication and avoid prolonged heat.