Like all alkali ions potassium draws water to the place where it is riches itself. With increased administration in the blood by an addition in substance, that is, hypertonic solution, hydremia is the result. But how long this persists depends upon the excretory capacity of the salt concerned. In general, the potassium ion is just as permeable as sodium ions for healthy kidneys, so that equalization rapidly ensues. But isotonia can also be restored through the excretion of other salts and it may result in enrichment of potassium ions in special places, indeed according to the permeability conditions of single types of cells for this or other ions. So a relative preponderance of potassium ions, for example in the subcutaneous tissues, will provoke a local edema. One likewise knows of such alkali edemas from sodium salts.


The drug picture of kali carb. is based chiefly upon the results of provings in Hahnemann’s Chronic Diseases, 2nd ed., vol.4, p 1, 1838.


The kali carbonicum constitution is characterized through chilliness, weak circulation, weakness and relaxation of muscles and tendency to edema. The vegetative symptoms correspond in general to an increased excitation of the parasympathetic nervous system, the so-called vagotonia. The rapid physical and mental exhaustion is combined with irritability.

Kali carbonicum belongs to the cold remedies which seems to be characteristic for all compounds with cation preponderance. The kali carb. patient is especially sensitive to cold, perceives the slightest, draft, seeks the warm room. He feels the cold to a certain extent in the nerves, they pain in the cold. He also complains about cold in single parts, especially neuralgias which shoot here and there with pain in the cold parts; by the application of heat they move to other parts. In general, the pains rapidly change location. Cold sweats appear on the involved parts and there is profuse general sweating on slight provocation. Here we can well recall the sweating of the vagotonics. The sweat glands are indeed innervated by the parasympathetic. This is worthy of consideration in the type of sweating in the kali carb. picture. Especially frequently observed is the partial sweat, for example on the back with the lumbar and sacral weakness so characteristic for kali carb. and with the associated sticking pains, or on the forehead with headaches. The head is sensitive to cold; headache on walking in cold wind, dries to cover the head outside of warm rooms, headache on forced inspiration through the nose with burning pain in the region of the frontal sinus. In cold winds the nose opens, desire and burns and headache develops. On re-entering a warm room the nasal secretion from nasal and postnasal catarrh recurs and the headache ceases and the patient feels better. Just as the pains, so also should the head neuralgias be conditioned by the cessation of nasal secretion in the cold. Feeling of cold also is felt in the auditory passages, as though cold air blows in.

The complaints of pharyngitis, in particular the feeling of a splinter becomes worse from cold. The gastric symptoms are worse from cold drinks. A cold sensation is reported in the abdomen, colic with feeling of cold better from warm applications; a feeling of cold also in the breast; coldness of the extremities. The kali carb. patients are easily chilled, better in warm climates.

The chilliness is worse at evening, before the menses, after excretion, in the open air, after eating. There may be internal heat with external chilliness. The profuse sweatings are worse on eating, from warm food, from mental exertion and writing, from mild bodily exertion.


The circulatory weakness contributes especially to the great sensitivity towards cold. The extremities are not only somewhat easily chilled but also easily become numb, especially on crossing the legs; also painfulness of the tips of the fingers and toes, sensitivity of the soles of he feet belong here. The skin is cold, pale and puffy. Whether the tendency to edema is conditioned centrally through the influence of the heart or depends upon local tissue effect (alkali edema), one cannot always decide. The sacs extolled by Boenninghausen in the drug picture of kali carb., small bag-like swelling between the eyebrows and the upper lids, give the impression of a locally conditioned edema. On the contrary, the edematous state in old people obviously infers a failure of the heart muscle.

The puffy face in young girls is frequently significant of an anemia and, together with diverse types of menstrual disturbances, is taken as a kali carb. indication. Although the great potassium content of the red blood cells and their easy hemolysis through potassium could afford a biologic proof, the connection to actual anemia for kali carb. is still insufficiently supported.

Perhaps dependent upon the circulatory weakness is the sleepiness after eating, as well as sleepiness at meal time, from the slightest mental exertion; further, a state of exhaustion as exists after severe prolonged illness, loss of blood or loss of other body fluids, after marked seminal depletion, during and after the menses, combined with a weak pulse and pulsations over the entire body. Generally holding is an aggravation of the complaint after coitus. To be mentioned here are the asthenopic complaints after sexual excesses.

The mental attitude of the kali carb. patient is anxious, disheartened, fear of everything, of fantasies elaborated by himself, of everything possible which threatens him. This state so full of anxiety and fantasies we know indeed of patients with cardiac muscle weakness. Suggestive should be the terror and anxiety felt in the gastric region (vagus action?). At the same time there exists an irritability, and indefinite apprehensiveness which is likewise well known in the cardiac patient; the patient is ill-humored, highly irritable.


The special action of potassium on voluntary muscle expresses itself in the great muscle weakness and relaxation which may amount to a paralytic state. The elastic fibres seem to become influenced in the same way. The joints fail, the back and legs are especially weak: weakness in sacral region, stiffness and paresis in back, feeling as if the lumbosacral region were breaking. The failure of the back and legs comes on so suddenly and severely that the patient is compelled to sit in the street if he can find no other place. According to Farrington the triad characteristic for kali carb. is: weakness, backache and sweating, but it states all too little. Severe sacral backache during pregnancy and after miscarriage, feeling of heaviness in the lumbosacral region with menstruation, give frequent causal source. The pains extend upward and downward in the back, radiate into the glutei, the hipjoints and the thighs. Characteristics for the muscle actions are: twitching and trembling of the muscles, weakness up to paralysis, especially (apart from the back) in the thighs and knees, worse on climbing stairs, loss of power in the extensors. Paretic states in old people who have edema at the same time give indications of the muscular and the circulatory weakness. Other muscle symptoms are: heaviness and drooping of the upper lids, even paralysis (M. levator palpebrae); and difficulty in evacuating the stool and involuntary discharge of urine during coughing, sneezing, etc., show the action on the anal and bladder sphincters.


To the general characteristics of kali carb. belong also the pains which in both inner and outer parts are predominantly sticking. That the pains are worse from lying on the affected side which soon becomes numb, distinctly differentiates kali from another agent with sticking pain, bryonia. The point of difference is that in bryonia the pain is predominantly in the serious membrane, but in kali carb. it seems to arise more from a stasis in the musculature, in the subcutaneous tissues, in the bronchioles, etc. With this agrees the aggravation from lying on the affected parts and from becoming cold, the improvement from moving around and the change in the location of the place from applications of warmth. On the mucous membranes the sticking pain seems traceable to dryness. To be mentioned also is the sticking pain as if from a fishbone in the throat a sensation as if from a splinter on becoming cold, cough with sticking pain in the larynx and air passages, sticking pain in the rectum before and after stool, furthermore stitches in the kidney and right scapular region and especially in the sacrum.

As for all the alkalies, so for kali carbonicum are reported gouty-rheumatic complaints in the joints and muscles. The evidence of failure in the locomotor apparatus, the preferential localization in the back, sacrum, hip, thigh and knees united with the already mentioned modalities, give a certain rheumatoid picture to kali carb. Since with kali carb. swelling also often appears, which naturally does not give the impression exactly of an inflammation, so perhaps the combination of such pains and swellings leads to the clinical implication of hip-joint disease and synovitis. Convincing results, however, have not been published. Consequently, the usual intermingling of the uric- acid diathesis and the characteristic gout will perhaps ascribe to all alkalies also an influence on the latter. The alkaline waters have likewise been extolled. According to Bechhold and Zeigler potassium prevents the precipitation of urates. Potassium-rich diet would likewise be recommended in gout because uric acid experimentally deposited as mono-sodium urate tends to be lessened through potassium-rich food. But a special adaptability of kali carb. for true gout does not appear either from the drug provings nor from homoeopathic experiences.

Otto Leeser
Otto Leeser 1888 – 1964 MD, PHd was a German Jewish homeopath who had to leave Germany due to Nazi persecution during World War II, and he escaped to England via Holland.
Leeser, a Consultant Physician at the Stuttgart Homeopathic Hospital and a member of the German Central Society of Homeopathic Physicians, fled Germany in 1933 after being expelled by the German Medical Association. In England Otto Leeser joined the staff of the Royal London Homeopathic Hospital. He returned to Germany in the 1950s to run the Robert Bosch Homeopathic Hospital in Stuttgart, but died shortly after.
Otto Leeser wrote Textbook of Homeopathic Materia Medica, Leesers Lehrbuch der Homöopathie, Actionsand Medicinal use of Snake Venoms, Solanaceae, The Contribution of Homeopathy to the Development of Medicine, Homeopathy and chemotherapy, and many articles submitted to The British Homeopathic Journal,