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Potassium deficiency treatments

Category: Medicines



Introduction and description


Potassium deficiency treatments are pharmaceuticals devised to treat potassium deficiency.

Generally speaking, low potassium levels should be treated not by drugs but by trying to get to the root cause and correcting this, for example, by stopping the fizzy drinks, by eating a more balanced diet, by stopping the use of diuretic drugs, by attacking the tumours, by treating the diabetes, and by correcting the aldosterone imbalance and finding its cause.

But there is sometimes the need to provide quick potassium based treatment and the main drug used in this is potassium chloride.   And it has a record of producing hallucinations. 

Potassium citrate and potassium chloride

Potassium citrate is the potassium naturally found in many fruits and vegetables.  In general, few if any doctors prescribe fruit and vegetables to help heal potassium deficiency or high blood pressure - one of the symptoms of deficiency.  But all the evidence seems to point to the fact that they are actually better, being dose controlled and cheaper [for the patient].

Randomized trials have shown that increasing potassium intake lowers blood pressure. However, most previous trials used potassium chloride, whereas potassium in fruits and vegetables is not a chloride salt.
It is unclear whether a nonchloride salt of potassium has a greater or lesser effect on blood pressure compared with potassium chloride. We performed a randomized crossover trial comparing potassium chloride with potassium citrate …. Our results, ....suggest that potassium citrate has a similar effect on blood pressure as potassium chloride. These results support other evidence for an increase in potassium intake and indicate that potassium does not need to be given in the form of chloride to lower blood pressure. Increasing the consumption of foods high in potassium is likely to have the same effect on blood pressure as potassium chloride.  PMID:  15723964

 It may be helpful to know which fruit and vegetables contain potassium, so here is a list from Dr Duke's phytochemical database of those with high amounts:


Plant Part


High PPM

Lactuca sativa  LETTUCE




Cichorium endivia  ENDIVE/CHICORY




Vigna mungo BLACK GRAM




Chenopodium album  LAMBSQUARTER




Raphanus sativus  RADISH




Brassica pekinensis  CHINESE CABBAGE




Portulaca oleracea  PURSLANE




Anethum graveolens  DILL




Amaranthus sp.   AMARANTH LEAF




Cucumis sativus   CUCUMBER




Brassica chinensis   BOK CHOY




Brassica rapa   PAK CHOY




Spinacia oleracea   SPINACH




Rheum rhabarbarum  RHUBARB




Nasturtium officinale   WATERCRESS




Aralia cordata   UDO




Beta vulgaris   BEETROOT




Lycopersicon esculentum   TOMATO





 Side effects

One of the side effects of potassium chloride when administered as a tablet is that it can produce intestinal lesions of various sorts:

The effects on the upper gastrointestinal tract of five different preparations of KCl were compared in 90 healthy subjects .... The KCl preparations studied were wax-matrix KCl, microencapsulated KCl, liquid KCl, experimental extended-release capsules, experimental extended-release tablets,and placebo. The subjects were endoscoped prior to and after seven days of dosing. Upper gastrointestinal mucosal pathology was seen with all of the potassium preparations as well as with placebo [sic]. No statistically significant differences between the various KCl groups or between KCl groups and placebo were seen. All of the lesions were superficial, except for one ulcer seen with the microencapsulated KCl. None of the subjects developed occult gastrointestinal bleeding. There were no differences in the incidence of abdominal symptoms.  PMID:  6747020


It makes you wonder what they consider to be a placebo.  Given that the intestine is now recognised as being part of the immune system, providing an essential barrier against pathogens of all sorts, any damage done to the mucosal barrier is indeed very significant.  Although the hallucinations caused by these preparations have  a cause different to this, this side effect is far more dangerous in the long term than any hallucinations.

Other side effects can include nausea and vomiting, diarrhoea, and bleeding of the digestive tract. Overdoses cause hyperkalemia, which can lead to paresthesia, cardiac conduction blocks, fibrillation, arrhythmias, and sclerosis.

The lethal effects of potassium chloride overdoses have led to its use in lethal injection, as the third of a three-drug combination. Additionally, KCl is used (albeit rarely) in fetal intracardiac injections in second- and third-trimester induced abortions.

In other words another side effect of overdosing is death.



Potassium chloride does occur naturally in some edible and medicinal plants – Horsetail, Heal-all, and Cape gooseberry, for example, as such it is a naturally occurring chemical.  In plants, however, the dosage is extremely low. 

Medicinally, there are limits supposedly set on safe oral and intravenous doses of the tablets for adults, which are typically in the range of 8 to 20 mEq, which is 600 to 1500 mg of KCl. 

Unfortunately Potassium chloride is being added to a host of foods and drinks as a supposedly safe alternative to sodium chloride. 

The chemical compound potassium chloride (KCl) dissolves readily in water and its solutions have a salt-like taste. KCl is used in food processing,  and as a sodium-free substitute for table salt for persons “concerned about the health effects of sodium”.  Due to its weak, bitter flavour, it is usually mixed with ordinary table salt (sodium chloride) to improve the taste. 

It is also used in various brands of bottled water. There is one brand that is simply tap water mixed with salt, magnesium sulphate and potassium chloride.

Complaints of bitterness or a chemical or metallic taste are also reported with potassium chloride used in food.  So given the uses to which it is being put, it is all too easy to overdose.

How it works

tap water is often cheaper and safer than mineral water and results
in far less pollution and waste of resources.

Why do people get hallucinations?  Overdose. When you eat a tomato, or a salad of lettuce, it is virtually impossible to overdose because nature has created balance in the food we eat, but man has not and it is very difficult to get the balance of potassium right with drugs of this kind.  There is the real danger of raising potassium levels beyond the normal range, and producing hyperkalemia.  This is then poisoning.

The risk is high in concurrent use of ACE inhibitors. People are often advised not to use potassium-containing salt replacements with these products.


Fatal hyperkalemia from accidental overdose of potassium chloride - Wetli CV, Davis JH.  PMID: 682320



Hyperkalemia from single small oral doses of potassium chloride - Perez GO, Oster JR, Pelleya R, Caralis PV, Kem DC.
Clinically important hyperkalemia occurred in 2 patients receiving a single small dose of potassium chloride by mouth. In spite of normal or near function, both subjects manifested abnormalities predisposing to impaired potassium homeostasis including hypoaldosteronism, autonomic dysfunction, or diabetes mellitus. It is suggested that in this type of patient the oral dose of potassium be as small as possible, taken with meals or given as a slow-release preparation



In June 2016, eHealthme ceased to provide the information on which all the data in this section is based.  On querying my friends in the USA, it would seem that many of the sites that provided similar information, have done the same.  The links we provided to eHealthme also no longer work as this data too has been removed. 

As to why all these sites have removed exceptionally important information, my USA helpers said that more and more people are questioning what they are being given – and demanding to know WHY the CAUSE of their illness has not been investigated.  It appears that there has been a very heartening increase in the numbers of people who want to be healed – have the cause tackled and not the symptoms.  And this is ‘not popular’ with the conventional medical community, who cannot make money from well people.

The statistics collected from eHealthme remain valid for the date they were collected.  As such we have left this section as it is – an historical record.  Please read this section therefore only as an historical record of the figures that were applicable on the date specified.


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