Physiological action: In large doses potassium is a powerful irritant to the gastro-intestinal tract and a powerful irritant poison to the nerves and heart muscles. Potassium in its various forms will suspend functional activity of the nerves and muscular structure of the body, the muscles losing their contractibility, This is especially noticed in the heart. It is very irritating to mucous surfaces and therefore should not be used in irritation of the gastro-intestinal tract even in moderate doses. Where the gastro-intestinal tract is not irritated, muscular system and heart are in good condition and where there is increased heart's action and arterial tension the potassium salts may be safely used in small medicinal doses. Potassium is not as readily absorbed on account of its irritating qualities as sodium is and is to be taken in minute doses to avoid its depressing and irritating effect. It should always be well diluted and its use not continued long. Large or long continued doses of the potassium salts will dissolve red blood corpuscles and have a weakening effect on the motor ganglia of the heart, sometimes amounting to paralysis.
Syn.—Acetate of Potash.
Use: Acetate of potash is soluble in cold water 0.36, in alcohol 1.9 and is more soluble in warm than cold fluids. As it rapidly absorbs moisture from. the air it must be kept in a well stoppered bottle. It is an antacid and when taken into the system decomposes and passes off as carbonate of potassium, rendering the urine alkaline. Its main action in the system is to promote retrograde metabolism in the whole system and increase waste. It is a renal depurant, stimulating both secretion and excretion, greatly increasing the solids of the urine, having but little influence on the watery portion of the same. It is a solvent and eliminator. We think of it in rheumatism, acute articular rheumatism, lithemia. May be given in fevers if indicated, alternating with other remedies such as the case demands. In muscular rheumatism it can be used to advantage with cimicifuga. In hepatic congestion it stimulates the flow of bile. In glandular inflammation, glandular diseases in children, eczema and other skin diseases it is a valuable remedy to alternate with other indicated remedies. In gonorrhea to neutralize the acidity of the urine it is our best remedy. It should not be given where there is a red and pointed tongue; nor in too large doses. Should always be well diluted.
The Materia Medica and Clinical Therapeutics, 1905, was written by Fred J. Petersen, M.D.