There have been many articles written on the individual members of this group of homoeopathic remedies, but very few which cover the entire family. Perhaps there are reasons for this. The Kalis do not have an attractive or outstanding personality. For their wide use in general practice, there are one or two remedies which have a definite, easily discernible, characteristic picture, but the Kali family, as a whole, lacks that dynamic power of some of the other groups. There is no “Gloomy Gus” Natrum carb., no gold-headed cane Arsenicum, nor any well-groomed nervous race horse Nux vomica among the Kalis. Another answer to the question may be that the element, potassium, isolated and purified, has had no recorded proving. Therefore, a compilation of the characteristics of this group must suffer from human error, for they must be sifted from a multitude of provings, poisonings and empirical uses of the individual Kalis.
The term Kali or Kahle is German for Potash. Potassium, as a chemical element, is a metal, having an atomic number of 19, an atomic weight of 39.1 and a valency of plus 1. Potassium and all of its compounds are water soluble, hence very universally distributed. The earths crust is 2.45 percent potassium and the human body is 0.35 percent potassium. Potassium hydroxide combined with a fatty acid forms a soft soap in contrast to sodium, which produces a hard soap.
We are less interested in these purely chemical or inorganic properties than the organic ones. It is true, however, that in many cases our drug pictures have come from chemical, allopathic and poisonous effects; also, as Schussler believed, a lack of the chemical salt itself or a disturbance in the motion of its molecules.
Potassium is contained in all organic vegetable foods. Those which contain most of it are dandelions, water cress, parsley, dill, fresh asparagus, Swiss chard, endive, spinach, tomatoes, mustard greens, watermelon, and beet tops. This is an excellent list to remember as an adjuvant in treating chronic cases where a Kali containing remedy is indicated.
Organic potassium is a powerful neutralizer. It is a powerful flushing agent, hence it is good for constipation and as an improver of circulation. Potassium is one of the minerals present in blood plasma as well as all tissues. Clarke, in his Dictionary of the Materia Medica, states, “Kalis, in general, cause great disturbances in the circulation of fluids in the tissues.” The organic compounds are also good for pelvic disorders.
There are some 25 or 26 combinations of potassium used homoeopathically. There are ten or twelve of these worthy of study, for among them are some of the double salts, which are often indicated. Causticum, Kali aceticum, arsenicosum, bichromicum, bromatum, carbonicum, hydriodicum, muriaticum, nitricum, phosphoricum, and sulfuricum comprise this list and are the ones used in the study of the entire group.
It is evident that Kali, as it is most commonly used as a group, has few delineating characteristics, for it is influenced exceedingly by the elements, radicals or compounds, with which it readily combines.
These salts have been used for many centuries in scientific and empiric medicine. Perhaps the statement that they have been misused for centuries would be more correct. Allopathically, these remedies have been used in chemistry and medicine. Kali ars. as a diuretic and complexion clearer, Kali bichromicum as an antiseptic for wounds, the bitartarate as a saline purgative, the iodide for syphilis, the nitrate for fevers, and the permanganate as an oxidizing agent, are some of the empiric and so-called specific uses.
The general typical constitution of the Kali family is the fat, chubby person. So-called plethoric people who really have a false anaemia or pseudo-plethora or fleshy people who are watery, anaemic and obese give a better picture.
The group effects of characteristics include paralytic effects, weakness, ulceration of the mucous membranes and of the skin, tissue waste, myocardial weakness, deficiency of red corpuscles, early morning time aggravation – 2 to 5 a.m. – which is pronounced in some of the Kali and mild in others (a better time modality than the Natrums). There are sharp, cutting, quick, jabbing pains; and nearly all of the pains are ameliorated by motion. Cardiac depression, as shown by a soft, irregular, and intermittent pulse is a characteristic. Kali conditions as a rule are afebrile. The mentality of the Kalis is relatively weak, being not so clear cut as the Natrums. Symptoms are apt to predominate on one side of the body only – the left – with the exception of those of Kali carb. The Kalis are wonderful anti- tubercular remedies.
All of the Kalis are aggravated after any disturbance in the fluid balance in the body, particularly after coition. The family amelioration is from warmth, from rest and a plentiful amount of substantial food. In general, the Kalis are never constipated, however, each salt may have some constipation in its pathogenesis. Most of the Kalis hate cold and are made worse by it. Also, there is an offensiveness of certain excretions.
The great therapeutic applicability of this group is undoubtedly due to the presence of potassium in some of its salts in all protoplasm, all living substance in both the animal and vegetable kingdom. Hence, to enumerate the regions of the body affected would be to list anatomically all of the organs and tissues of the body. The principal points of attack are the mucous membranes, wherever they are found in the body, the cardiovascular system, including the blood itself, the kidneys, the connective tissue and the glandular organs. The motor cardiac centers are influenced by potassium.
The Kali mind is forgetful, with mental lassitude and sluggishness. Kalis are easily annoyed and irritated by trifles. They have a harsh temper when aroused and are apprehensive, ill at ease and rather averse to society. (Kali iod. is mean, especially to his own family.).
In the kidneys, the Kalis produce an increase in the flow of urine and elimination of the alkali salts so that the total solids are increased.
Clarke, in his Dictionary, adds to a previous statement to say,.
The Potassium salts have more relation specifically to the solid tissues than to the fluids of the body; to the blood corpuscle rather than to the blood plasma. The fibrous tissues are particularly affected, the ligaments of joints, of the uterus, and of the back. It corresponds to conditions in which these tissues are relaxed – joints give way; the back feels as if broken; the patient feels compelled to lie down, even in the street.
To take up each individual member of this useful family in detail would require entire too much time, so the characteristic rather than the general field of the more commonly used salts will be considered. This will bring out the fact that the manifestations of the Kali family are secondary to the compounds with which it is combined, but still their subtle influence is present.
The indications for Kali aceticum, which should bring the remedy to mind, are the great weakness, trembling, and anxiety in the whole body and mind of transient duration and appearing in paroxysms; the peculiar profuse and offensive perspiration from 11 a.m. to 1 p.m., polyuria, and the 4 p.m. headache.
Kali arsenicosum is a salt showing the effect of is combined radical, the arsenic. The characteristic analysis shows a temperamental disposition to restlessness, fault finding, exaction, scolding, quarrelsomeness, and discontent. The skin is the main point of attack as a result of the effect on the cardiovascular system. Here there are innumerable indications, from painful herpes, phagdenic ulcers with a deep base and turned up edges to itching psoriasis. The branlike desquamation following measles is typical.
The skin symptoms itch mainly, are worse when the patient undresses, worse at night, like Arsenicum, yet aggravated by warmth. The Kali ars. skin is pale, dirty yellow, muddy. There are a few unusual symptoms, as the sensation as if the head were too large, burning and numbness of the tongue, which also feels too large, and the sensation as of a ball rising from the pit of the stomach to the larynx causing suffocation and as if a red hot iron or poker were in the anus.
There are very many indications for Kali bichromicum. The most characteristic indications are the discharges from the mucous membranes of tough stringy mucus or muco-pus which adheres to the part and can be drawn out in strings. The formation of plugs or clinkers on the mucous membranes especially of the nose, the formation of false membranes as in croup and diphtheria with a hoarse, metallic cough, and the formation of casts of bronchial tubes in fibrinous bronchitis are various manifestations of the mucous discharges. The secretions and excretions are yellow and the discharges are of jelly-like mucus.
There is occurrence of pain in small spots which can be covered with the tip of the finger, alternating shifting conditions as pains wandering from part to part. Rheumatic pains alternate with gastric symptoms or with dysentery headache alternates with blindness. Punched out, perforating ulcers occurring on skin, mucous membranes and affecting bones, especially the vomer and palate comprise another characteristic. Other symptoms are indigestion from drinking beer; weight in the pit of the stomach immediately after eating food for which there is no appetite. The hair sensation on the back of the tongue and in the left nostril is pronounced.
Kali bromatum has not been extensively proven. It has a decided effect upon the sensorium, producing a besotted state or stupor resembling acute alcoholism from which the patient can be aroused. There is a great loss of memory and a peculiar hesitancy in remembering words that he knows perfectly well. The nervous system is affected, being agitated with fearful delusions, great mental depression accompanied by weeping and wringing of the hands. The mental state corresponds to the night terrors of children who start awake and then cannot be comforted.
The hallucination of the child is that he is being hunted and chased by some horrible person or thing. The mental agitation is reflected in the hands which are continually being wrung or are working at something. This mental state, plus the overwhelming effect of the Bromium causing bronchial difficulties as croup, make this remedy particularly useful for children. Kali brom. produces many different skin eruptions almost everywhere on the bodys surface. These are rose colored, acneic, and are aggravated during the hot summer and relieved as cooler weather comes on.
Kali carb. characteristics are stitching, lancinating, and jerking pains wherever complaints are. These come on whether the patient moves or not. In a Kali carb. pneumonia, which generally locates in the lower right lobe, stitching pains come on without relation to the respiratory excursion and are not relieved by strapping or lying on the affected side as those of Bryonia. There is also a puffiness above the eyes between the brow and the upper lid. When these bag-like swellings occur in families, they are not to be trusted as substantial symptoms for Kali carb.
The early morning time aggravation from 2 to 5 a.m. gives the entire group of remedies this characteristic. Farringtons or Nashs triumvirate of sweat, backache, and weakness often are the symptoms upon which the complaint is, “Oh, my back this”, and “Oh, my back that”. There is over- sensitiveness to touch, especially to unexpected touch when starting is out of portion to the touch. There is also extreme sensitiveness of the soles of the feet. Kali carb. is one of the very flatulent remedies. Hahnemann said that persons suffering from ulceration in the lungs could hardly get well without this antipsoric. Kali carb. is a typical tubercular subject in its over-sensitiveness to everything – weather and cold drafts in particular.
Now we come to perhaps the most often misused of all the Kalis, the iodide. Homoeopathically, it is indicated in pale, delicate people who flush easily. The main pathologic diagnosis calling for it is scrofula rather than syphilis; however, Hahnemann lists it as an antisyphilitic also. There is wasting and exhaustion, anguish, and the diffused sensitiveness especially of the glands. Kali hydriodicum is aggravated at the seashore. It is a powerful solvent of tumors and of the effect products left in the tissues after acute inflammatory infections.
Whiteness of secretions, exudations, and eruptions of tissues suggest Kali muriaticum. There is a toughness of fibrinous exudations and discharges. The blood clots too readily causing embolism, indurations and hard swellings. Kali mur. deserves a more extensive proving.
Kali nitricum used to be an old stand-by as sweet spirits of nitre for children who refused to urinate with fever. The scope of Kali nit. in our branch of the healing art is much broader. Peevish fretfulness and ennui, with acute external sensitiveness, describe the remedy mentally. The pains are stitching, cutting, stabbing, especially in the chest, where they occur frequently in the course of chronic phthisis. There is an asthmatic picture with loose rattling cough at 3 a.m. There is a sour taste in the throat. The point of attack centers mainly on abdominal and pelvic organs, causing colic, diarrhoea and dysentery. There is an inky-black menorrhagia that is differentiating feature, as no other remedy can equal it for blackness.
The nervous remedy of the group is Kali phosphoricum. Besides the vein of Kali symptoms that run through the remedy, namely, early morning waking, the peculiar mouth, the severe action on the skin, the aggravation after coitus, and the sensitiveness to touch, there is a definite mental picture. Mechanical injuries, blows, sexual excitement, indulged or suppressed, cause a morose, irritable, profoundly depressed, lethargic, and unsociable person. Everything is just too much.
In spite of the sluggishness, there is an easily aroused temper, causing the patient to fly into such a passion that articulation is practically lost. Kali phos. corresponds to those numerous cases in which there is increased sensitiveness to all impressions from a weakness of the vital organismic resistance or control, that is, weakened states from shock, mental or physical, from overstrain or overdrain of the system. It is indicated in menstrual headaches and neurasthenia. The color of the excretions is golden or orange yellow.
The next remedy in the group is Schusslers Pulsatilla – Kali sulfuricum. The leading indications for this remedy are still those given by Schussler – the YELLOW color of the discharges, the denuded and scaling of epidermal and mucous surfaces with yellow catarrh, the aggravation from warmth and amelioration in open air as Pulsatilla. All of the symptoms are worse in the evening. Kali sulf. is like Pulsatilla, but it is not as mild and yielding and is chronically cold and acutely warm in contrast to the latter.
Causticum frequently rivals Kali carb. as the typical remedy of the group. Its exact chemical composition is not accurately known. With Causticum, there is great weakness, such as characterize the potash salts generally. It is a faint-like weakness, or sinking of strength with trembling from care, grief, or sorrow of long standing or from disease. The weakness progressing until we have gradually appearing paralysis is common with Causticum and attacks, in a general way, the right side, involving both voluntary and involuntary muscles. There is also a local paralysis of the vocal cords, muscles of deglutition, of the tongue, eyelids, face, bladder, and extremities. As with Gelsemium and Sepia, there is drooping of the eyelids.
Neuralgic affections are also common with this remedy and are generally of an obstinate character. Mentally, the Causticum mood is melancholy, sad and hopeless, apt to look on the dark side of everything. There is also timidity and nervous anxiety. With this, there is restlessness at night when the legs are always on the go. The most frequent sensation is one of soreness and rawness. Causticum passes stool best standing, and dribbles urine on exertion, coughing or sneezing, even involuntarily during sleep. There are the raw haemorrhoids worse when walking or straining even to the voice. The cough doesnt seem deep enough to afford relief. Causticum is also used for the after effects of burns.
These thumbnail sketches are the characteristics of the more common Kalis. As you can readily see, they cover all three miasmatics states and practically every pathologic state known in their Pathogenesis. These sketches by no means give a complete picture of any remedy, so it is my hope to have afforded a brief review and stimulus for the further study of this useful family of remedies.