A word of caution about potassium....

Discussion in 'Fibromyalgia Main Forum' started by ljimbo42, Aug 16, 2014.

  1. ljimbo42

    ljimbo42 Active Member

    About a week and a half ago I decided to increase my potassium supplements from 1,000 to 1,500 mg. a day. I took 1,000 mg with breakfast and planned on taking 500 mg with lunch. About an hour and a half after I took my first 1,000 mg dose with breakfast, my heart started pounding and beating erratically, I felt really weak, broke out in a cold sweat and was very pale.

    I knew it was the potassium that caused my symptoms but I didn't know why until a few minutes ago. I was just reading about adrenal fatigue and how in the later stages it causes sodium loss and higher levels of potassium. I have adrenal fatigue and I think it is very common in cfs/fm.

    So I have stopped all potassium supplementation and am increasing my sodium intake to re-balance my electrolytes. When sodium levels go down from adrenal fatigue, the blood can loose volume from loss of water, which can cause low blood pressure and dizziness when standing (orthostatic hypotension).

    Salt cravings are common in adrenal fatigue because of the salt our bodies loose, so we can crave salt to replace what has been lost. I just wanted to pass the information along. When I experienced the symptoms of to much potassium, it was very scary. All the best---- Jim
    Last edited: Aug 16, 2014
  2. mbofov

    mbofov Active Member

    Hi Jim - thanks for posting. I've suffered from low potassium, which can cause extreme weakness and lethargy but have never had high potassium. That would have been scary! When I first started Freddd's B12 protocol (on the Phoenix Rising board), I ended up having to take about 1,000 mg. of potassium a day as my potassium need increased due to my cells starting to work properly with the methylfolate. I now take 400 to 600 mg. a day as a maintenance dose. It was interesting - when the low potassium hit a couple of days after starting the methylfolate, it felt familiar - I realized I had experienced it before but never knew what it was, just thought it was another d*m CFS symptom, and now believe that it was quite possible that Richvank's protocol did the same thing to my potassium levels, only I never knew what was happening and had to keep stopping his protocol. (I also just seemed to react badly to one of Rich's supplements, am not sure which.)

    Have you ever tried an adrenal glandular for your adrenals? My adrenals used to be quite weak and my chiropractor helped me so much by giving me an adrenal glandular. I've taken a couple of them over the years, but primarily Drenatrophin PMG and Drenamin by Standard Process. When I first took the Drenatrophin over 10 years ago, had been weak as a kitten, and was told to take some 3 or 4 times the regular dose. Within a couple of days my energy came back up. It was amazing. I've since had to take an adrenal glandular off and on, depending on circumstances. I also minimize my stress and caffeine and sugar intake, etc.

    My chiro told me that taking something like Cortef, a steroid, for the adrenals would just push them to work harder, eventually exhausting them further, but that the adrenal glandular gave the adrenals a chance to rest and recuperate.

    I also take extra pantothenic acid (500mg.), which is crucial for adrenal health, together with a good B multi.

    So right now my adrenals are in pretty good shape. Unfortunately, I still crash regularly, like clock work when I overdo it. I'm trying to raise my methylfolate gradually to avoid a major detox which happened when I doubled my methylfolate over night - not smart! :0

    I do get salt cravings once in a while but not very often.

  3. ljimbo42

    ljimbo42 Active Member

    Hi Mary- It still amazes me how well the body has evolved to maintain a balance of everything including potassium. Too much and we feel ill, too little and we feel ill and that holds true for everything in the body, it's all about balance. I took adrenal glandular's for the first time a year or so ago and felt a tremendous increase in energy and well being.

    Like so many supplements though my body adjusted quickly to the change and within a few weeks or so the increase in energy was no longer noticeable. I do still take them now and then when I feel tired. Cortef or cortisol makes me detox too much, so I don't take it at all. I take a good multi and sometimes some pantethine (bioactive b-5), but it's so difficult to stay focused on 14 protocols at once. : )

    I am focused mainly on methylation, toxic overload, leaky gut, dysbiosis, and mitochondrial dysfunction. Although I am adding in some adrenal supplements now also. I firmly believe that all these symptoms stem from MTHFR mutations (as well as other mutations in the methylation cycle), years of serious stress and years of very poor living habits.

    There is a poll at Phoenix Rising asking those that have been tested for MTHFR mutations if they have a MTHFR mutation or not. So far 23 poeple have taken the poll and 22 have at least one mutation and only one person out of 23 don't have a mutation!

    I am guessing you must be feeling pretty well to increase your methyl-folate dose, that's fantastic, I hope you continue to do well. : ) All the best........ Jim
    Last edited: Aug 17, 2014
  4. IanH

    IanH Active Member

    Should have had your blood levels tested!

    If you have hyponatremia and hyperkalemia then this can be serious and should be checked.
    Having theories about adrenal fatigue is one thing but then attributing your electrolytes to that is risky indeed.
    If your symptoms were actually due to a relatively low dose of potassium I would not ignore it.

    However, 1000mg potassium is not a high amount considering the average adult should take around 4.5-5 grams per day and even at that level of intake some people will have insufficient.

    You certainly would not get hyperkalemia after taking 1000mg. It is hyperkalemia that causes the arrythmia. unless you are taking a medication which is interacting.

    Do you drink a lot of water? Do you pee a lot especially at night? Are you excessively thirsty at night?
    We do know that some people with ME have a poor adrenal output in response to ACTH after 30 minutes but it is normal after that time. Other people with ME do not show this response at all and their corticotrophic outputs are normal day and night. However these abnormal adrenal responses have not been shown to be associated with electrolyte or water balance.

    I do know of some people who get an interaction between niacin and potassium taken orally and that response includes tachycardia.

    Generally it is better to take any electrolytes spread throughout the day, however as I say 1000mg is not excessive so what caused your symptoms. I would repeat the challenge with 1000mg potassium if I were you.
    Last edited: Aug 18, 2014
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  5. ljimbo42

    ljimbo42 Active Member

    Hello Ian- I would of had my potassium levels checked but like you, I really didn't think 1,000 mg was enough to cause any problems. I don't take any meds or niacin, so that wasn't it. I stopped all potassium supplementation a few days ago and I do feel better, these diseases are such a puzzle.

    I'm thinking more and more that all of our organs have some level of dysfunction because of the mitochondrial dysfunction. Either causing or contributing to adrenal dysfunction, hypothyroidism etc. You are probably aware of Sarah Myhill's belief that mito. dysfunction causes low cardiac output. I'm thinking that applies to some degree to every cell and therefore every organ in the body.

    I had thyroid tests done several years ago and although I don't have clinical hypothyroidism, my TSH and T4 were very low normal, almost deficient. My TSH was 0.87, the ref. range is 0.34-5.60 and my T4 was 8.56, the ref. range is 7.50-21.10. What are your thoughts on mito. dysfunction causing some level of dysfunction in all cells and therefore all organs?
  6. IanH

    IanH Active Member

    While I agree that mitochondrial dysfunction is the basis of many problems I do not see cardiac problems so much so I suspect that Myhill has a subgroup. Some people have various organ/gland dysfunction.

    What I believe is that this illness causes all manner of dysfunction depending on two things:
    genes and history, this is why some people get fibromyalgia, they nearly all have spinal problems. In fact many of the Specialists I know think that fibromyalgia IS a spinal problem. I do not, because I know so many who have ME with FM. Some have thyroid dysfunction, and most of these had thyroid dysfunction before their ME, it just got worse. Those people who have a lot of MCS, have generally had sensitivities all of their life or their are a few who had excessive chemical exposures, such as hairdressers, painters, gardeners and when they get ME they have a lot of MCS.

    Mitochondrial dysfunction occurs in most neurological illnesses but this is not primary. I suspect that a person who develops cardiac problems after getting ME, already had some cardiac problems, probably not discovered until the ME heightened the symptoms.PEM (crashing fatigue)seems to be associated with immune attack on neuromuscular and neurotendon systems, probably mitochondrial. All people with ME have PEM but to varying degree. Clearly lactate and ROS are not being cleared, leading to exhaustion 12 to 48 hours afterwards.
    Severe PEM can usually be reduced with the mitochondrial support and strict control of the energy envelope but it never goes away. It become periodic - a cycle which could possibly be explained by improved glutathione synthesis and reduced mitochondrial permeability.

    So, from my observations ME is an illness of "hypersensitivity" caused by immune attack on the nervous system. Both types of neural dysfunction occur: excitability and impaired inhibition. There is clearly a loss of inhibition in the basal ganglia and a loss of inhibition in the periphery causing AV-shunting and neuropathy. Excitability seems to affect the HPA axis, although this may be a mixture of both. The adrenal insufficiency seen in some is probably a pituitary problem but may also be a direct effect of the innervation just as the kidneys are affected by the innervation.

    The immune research suggests this is a key cause of the wide range of symptoms.
    Last edited: Aug 18, 2014
  7. mbofov

    mbofov Active Member

    Hi Jim - thanks for your good wishes. I am doing well, relatively speaking, in that I'm not currently detoxing or herxing or sick - just regular limitations due to CFS - crashing and so on. But I feel well enough to start increasing the methylfolate, gradually this time! I've been taking an extra 400 mcg. (for a total of 2000 mcg.) for about 4 days now, and no detoxing yet.

    I wish more than anything I knew the answers to what causes PEM. It's deadly. I went to see my sister who lives 2 hours away on Saturday - she's newly diagnosed with rheumatoid arthritis and I really wanted to see her, and the visit went fine - she was funny and has the least self-pity of anyone I've ever met, although her symptoms are pretty bad. I don't think I would have her attitude. She sees a rheumatologist in a week. Anyways, I was wiped out all day yesterday from the trip, and today was still recovering though am feeling better now, but I am so tired of this. It's like clockwork.

    I do agree with Ian it seems a little strange that increasing your potassium by 500 mg. would cause hyperkalemia - but - I do think it's quite possible that it did. It might seem strange to someone that taking methylfolate could cause hypokalemia - but it definitely did for me. The horrible fatigue and lethargy lifted when I started taking potassium. So since your symptoms abated after decreasing your potassium, it seems a likely conclusion to me. I wish there were quick potassium tests we could do at home. But to get one done you have to get a doctor's order and wait for results and so on.

    About your low TSH - mine is very low too, but my doctor wants it that way (I'm taking an Armour thyroid equivalent). I believe it's a high TSH which indicates hypothyroid. You might want to check out this website:

    And I think it makes perfect sense that mito. dysfunction would cause problems for all cells, and hence, all organs. I don't know how everything could work well if our bodies can't produce energy properly.

  8. ljimbo42

    ljimbo42 Active Member

    Mary- I'm glad to hear that you are tolerating the methylfolate so well. I think the mitochondrial dysfunction is probably the main cause of the PEM. I think because the mito are so dysfunctional when we go beyond our "energy envelope", it takes 2-3 days or longer for the mito. to replete the energy we have used.

    Then add in that slow methylation reduces the ability of cells to create new DNA, that also adds to the slow recovery time. Slow methylation leads to low levels of SAM-e, and SAM-e is the primary methyl donor for DNA methylation. So the bodies ability to heal would be slow because of slow DNA methylation, and therefore slow cell reproduction and repair. I'm glad your sister has such a positive outlook it is so important, especially when you have health issues.

    It has been and is crucial in my recovery. Thanks for the thyroid link, I did some reading and it sounds like a sluggish pituitary is what causes low TSH. Rich V. Konynenburg talked about this and how low glutathione causes HPA dysfunction.

    I continue to improve, just not as fast as I would like. : ) My energy continues to come up slowly and my allergies continue to improve as well. Histamine is broken down through methylation, hence my symptom improvement.

    I have had a serious runny nose and congestion for many years, 24/7 and 365 days a year. In the last 3 months, since I had that breakthrough with the methylation. I went from taking 4-4 1/2 tablets a day of antihistamines to one. In the last 2 weeks I went from 2 tablets to 1, so that tells me that I am continuing to heal. All the best.... Jim
    Last edited: Aug 20, 2014