Mineral - Potassium


We are looking at a very interesting mineral today. The name of this mineral is Potassium but in some circles, it is also known as Potash. I will explain later why that is so, as it is an interesting titbit of perspective.  But, as always, the technical stuff, then the fun stuff. 

Potassium is a very light mineral, weighing in at 39.10 on the molecular scale, which is very light. It associates with the Threonine amino acid, carries a valence number of +1 and is used 15,182,192 times in the DNA sequence and follows the ACU codon. It carries the symbol of K and is closely involved with the Liver in its functioning. 

In a strict sense and in simple terms Potassium is directly involved cellular integrity and nerve function. It does this by regulating the transfer of nutrients into the cell. It also attracts oxygen to the tissues to keep the cells oxygenated. Potassium also supports the alkalinity of the muscular, tissue and blood systems.  IE: it balances the pH in favor of alkalinity, thus keeping those systems from becoming acidic. Part of this process includes keeping the proper water balance within the whole body system. Potassium is also known as an Electrolyte. This means that it is electrically charged, which leads to keeping the electrical systems between cells in functioning order. This aspect is very important because our brain consists of a delicately balanced semi-liquid solution that is directly and heavily dependant on Potassium for proper functioning. I often say that I am amazed that we even function as human beings because of the delicate nature of this balance and the influences that continually assaults that balance and in many cases bypasses the sensory protections in place.  Without Potassium, we could not function, on many, if not all fronts. 

I did a direct cut and paste from Wikipedia to discuss the early discovery and naming of this mineral. It is as follows; 
The English name for the element potassium comes from the word "potash", which refers to an early method of extracting various potassium salts: placing in a pot the ash of burnt wood or tree leaves, adding water, heating, and evaporating the solution. When Humphry Davy first isolated the pure element using electrolysis in 1807, he named it potassium which he derived from the word potash. The symbol "K" stems from kali, itself from the root word alkali, which in turn comes from Arabic: القَلْيَه‎ al-Aaliyah "plant ashes." In 1797, the German chemist Martin Klaproth discovered "potash" in the minerals leucite and lepidolite and realized that "potash" was not a product of plant growth but actually contained a new element, which he proposed to call Kali, In 1807, Humphry Davy produced the element via electrolysis: in 1809, Ludwig Wilhelm Gilbert proposed the name Kalium for Davy's "potassium". In 1814, the Swedish chemist Berzelius advocated the name kalium for potassium, with the chemical symbol "K".
(End of quotation from Wikipedia). 

The daily RDA (Recommended Daily Allowances)  or AI (Adequate Intakes) are close to being the same, those being; Adult Women and Men, 4500 to 4700 mg/day.  Infants 400 mg/day, then from that point it just increases as the person grows and gains weight until adulthood.  However, women that are pregnant require a little higher level and those nursing a little over 5000mg/day.  As a side note, British medical suggests are a little lower for adults.  But the sad thing is that the average American only gets about 1/2 of the RDA of useable Potassium that is required for healthy, normal functioning. Then we wonder why we experience all of the signs and symptoms of Potassium deficiencies. As a side note here. It appears from a number of people have done studies that appear to indicate that an increase of the amount of supplemental by as much as 15 to 20%, Potassium shows signs of decreasing the risk of stroke by close to 25%, which is a remarkable amount. These studies are done on people that are only getting about 1/2 of the RDA of Potassium. Also, some studies using different solutions of Potassium appears to help with moderate cases of Hypertension. Who would have ever guessed on these simple points?  

So what does that Potassium Deficiency look like?  Do you have time for the whole list or just a generalized listing? The whole list is shorter. If something is wrong. you are likely experiencing a "lack of" Potassium issue. The generalized list is as follows?  Any kind of blood issue, a lack of energy, aches, and pains, high blood pressure, issues with eyesight, Kidney problems, mental issues of any kind, nerve function, any kind of regulation of body fluids, including male reproductive fluids. Then another issue is the regulation and functioning of the heart. Basically, all things relating to the regulation and functioning of the heart involves Potassium.  

However, there are issues related to too little or too much Potassium.  Hypokalaemia is when the person is experiencing too little Potassium. This contributes to the Liver functioning, as in exaggeration of those already present Liver disorders. Inability to control the bowels, kidneys, etc. Lack of normal, rational mental functioning. This condition also is seen in diabetic ketoacidosis cases.  Then you have the too much Potassium, Hyperkalaemia, and that manifests as irregular heart impulses, heart rhythm issues, Kidney failure, and diseases of the adrenal gland. Also, taking many kinds of pharmaceutical drugs can lead to this condition.  One of the most harmful class is the beta-blockers.  So close monitoring for Hyperkalaemia is a must when using many synthetic drugs. Natural or herbal types of supplements do not appear to carry this same danger from most accounts. 

In the early days of the modern era in the Western World, we see a guy by the name of Justus Liebig, in 1840, discovering and announcing that Potash, aka, Potassium, was absolutely necessary for plants and that most soils lack sufficient amounts of Potassium for most plants.  Over the next 25 to 30 years, we see a "gold rush" of sorts to develop Potash sources. While this was going on, people would burn trees just to collect the ashes. Then those ashes were used as Potash/Potassium fertilizer. But by 1870, some mines were developed and those resources were seeing their way to agricultural purposes. Today we see most countries having developed Potash mines. There are roughly 35,000 million tons of Potassium mined every year as of the present time. However, that is projected to increase each year by 3 to 5% per year, looking into the foreseeable future.

Essential Oil Connection.
Potassium is a very light mineral, weight wise, so it goes without saying that it is also extremely water soluble. It dissolves easily and flows with the dissolving agent. That is why we see it anywhere water will flow. Which leads us to see an interesting perspective. In looking through the list of plants that are known to be high in Potassium on a ppm basis, we see a theme and that is annual plants tend to have a higher ppm that plants that are not, such as trees. But narrowing it down, even more, we see plants that are widely used as a spice or herbal flavoring. Then even down more, many of them are also distilled into essential oils. You will be amazed when I show you this list and especially the ppm amounts. A bunch of these plants that have been measured is after they have been dried.

Here is a gee whiz thing. A lot of these plants really needs to be dried before they are distilled for the highest oil.  Yes, they are dried or at least should be dried, then rehydrated, but it seems that the drying process is very important. The original plant water or water contained in the plant is evaporated off (dried) at normal drying temperatures. This removes the water at a low temperature, lower than the temperature of distilling.  See it is like this, the oils in the plants are volatile, that means they evaporate at a fairly low temperature. At least lower than the temperature than steam. But by air drying, which is lower than is required for the plant to lose the oil by volatility, the oils and their components are somewhat concentrated. Then when rehydrated, the water doesn't mess with that concentration, thus allowing the components to keep attached, if you will, throughout the distilling process. When the oils are distilled from a green (wet) plant, (meaning that the plant is just growing in the field, doing its thing, then itis harvested and then immediately placed in the still), There is too heavy water and that tends to make the oil from water separation more difficult. So a potential of not getting the best oil or amount that is optimal is then in play. But when the plant is naturally dried, then rehydrated through the steam distillation, that then leads to a more through, wide spectrum property oil.  It adds greatly to quality. So there you learned something new, I am sure. So when you have one of these quality pukes from some company out there, that knows their oils are more than 100% pure, you can just smile because you know a quality indicator that they haven't the foggiest idea about. 

Here goes; Basil  Coriander, Dill, Marjoram, Oregano, Rosemary, and Thyme. These usually run in well over 42,000 ppm mark. Then as we move down the list, we see others that come in between the 42,000 mark and down to say about the 10,000 mark, we have Cumin, Fennel, Cocoa, Ginger, Grapefruit, Juniperberry, and Lemon.  Some varieties of Peppermint. Anyway, the list goes on and on. Keep in mind that these numbers are high and high for a reason, that reason being is that we need large amounts of this mineral in relation to the amounts of other minerals. Another key here is that there is no substitute for Potassium. With many minerals, we see a mineral that will mimic another mineral in many aspects of a given mineral, never completely, but enough to fool the recipient, at least for a while. But with Potassium, it is either there or it isn't. No fooling with this mineral. Also, we will notice a trend of the plants that have a long life cycle, not having high levels of Potassium.  

Summary and Discussion.
Now when we look at plants that are not used as an essential oil source, we see a plant that just keeps scoring high in almost all of these high mineral containing plants. I was always told that this plant is nothing but filler, have you ever heard of Lettuce? Yeah, good old Lettuce it will score upward of having over 120,000 ppm of this particular mineral. Lambsquarter, which is a wild type of Lettuce that grows in many people's yards. It comes in at around a little under 90,000 ppm. Then Radish root, 85,000 ppm. Oats, this one is the Oat stem, the plant its self, aside from the grain, comes in at 79,000 ppm. Then you have Cucumber at around 72,000 ppm. Yes, good old Cucumbers. Then we see Spinach, Rhubarb, Borage, Watercress, and Beet Root all coming in in the 60,000 ppm range. Then in the 50,000 ppm ranges, we have Tomato, Celery, Asparagus, Celery, Parsley, and Cauliflower. Then in the 40,000 ppm range, we see Cilantro, Carrots, Bitter Mellon, Plum, Nutmeg, Barley and Barley Grass. Radish Leaf, Wheat and Wheat Grass, Cabbage, Pumpkin, Parsnip, and Artichoke.  I am going to stop the list here because when we get down to the lower amounts, into the 30,000 ppm ranges and below, the list gets huge, and I mean huge, too much to list. But in short, just about every vegetable that is out there will come in at the 10,000 ppm to 39,999 ppm range. I guess this is why we are supposed to eat our veggies, right?  Now, these are the ranges of normal Potassium levels if the plant is grown in normal, healthy growing conditions. Interestingly, we see Potassium in Bananas, don't we eat Bananas for Potassium???? They only register in at 35,000 ppm. Potatoes?? They come in at 24,000 ppm.  Milk??? Goat milk is at 20,400 ppm and Cow milk at 13,200 ppm. 

I was amazed at the Oat stem came in at where it does. In many agricultural situations, Oats are used as a cover crop for other more delicate crops. Many times farmers will plant oats and harvest the Oat crop before the fruit is mature, usually in what they call the "milk" stage. This is in reference to the immature grain part being very immature, basically in a milk-like substance. It is not solid, so it basically dries down to not much of anything by the time the stems are dry enough to package into a bale. Then that is fed later on to animals and it is called Oat Hay. It is really quite nutritious. Oat Straw is also used in herbal settings as an herb. I have seen it both ways, harvested as a green crop for herbal use, and harvested mature when the grain kernel is harvested, and used in herbal use settings. But I would think the green harvested one is by far the best nutritionally for herbal uses and I base that on the fact that the most nutritious time for the Oat Stem or Plant is when the potential grain kernel is in the milk stage. I am sure the Oat Grass is equally more nutritious than either Barley Grass or Wheat Grass. I do find it equally interesting that many people that are into herbs will love Wheat Grass.  But in fact, you hear very little of Barley Grass and Oat Grass, both of which are more nutritious than the Wheat Grass. It is hard for us to use the Oat, Barley or Wheat straw because of the high cellulose levels of the straw. So we use it in the grass form.  

One of the largest users or consumer of Potassium is the Agricultural industry. They use between 90 to 95% of the total yearly use of this mineral. The other 5%+ is used in various industrial fields.  Potassium is used in many things from Gunpowder to glass making and beyond. But the most interesting thing is that Potassium is used to guard against radiation poisoning. In this form, Potassium Idiode is used when there is a danger of fallout. In this form, the person using it will have their Thyroid flooded with this Iodine that is Potassium linked. I guess by doing this, the Potassium will regulate the flow of Iodine, well there is no guess here, it is factual, then the Iodine will stay there and block radioactive Iodine from collecting in the Thyroid. This exponentially lowers your chance of developing Thyroid cancer 25 to 30 years down the road. 

Potassium is a vital mineral. The best way to obtain it is through the intake of food rich in Potassium. But in the western world, and America, in particular, do not obtain enough Potassium on a daily basis. Fresh fruit and Vegetables are the best sources. Other sources will help and those might be in essential oil form and even by supplementation.  Perhaps one of the aspects that depletes the Potassium levels in food is by the processing. This is done by the high heats, which essentially evaporates the mineral from the food because it is so light, weight wise, that it goes with ease with the steam, and even the vapor heat its self.  It isn't destroyed, it just is carried off in the vapor or is transferred to the water that the plant is boiled in. Another is the depletion of Potassium from the soil that the plants are grown in.  Back in the pre-mid 80's, where I presently live, Potassium was rarely ever indicated for in a soil test. Then just like a wave, each year the soil tests started indicating for potassium need. it moved southward through the whole valley by about 3 miles per year. Now it is perhaps the highest by volume of any nutrient indicated for any soil test. Naturally, it would indicate high, in relationship to the others. So it is an indicator of accuracy, because of what we know that is factual. 

So to sum up Potassium. Without question, it is vital to biological function. Many of these minerals carry a note on them that says, "No known biological function for this mineral". Of course, we know this is factual, as we find many biological functions for each and every mineral. There are many minerals that are known that they are something, but not yet studied and named. So in time, we will learn of more minerals and their functions. But when we come to Potassium, we know a lot, I mean a lot. So much that we know that we can't or won't function without it. It is involved in all things cellular, muscle, fluid and electrical function within the biological entity, IE; humans, animals, and plants. From what has been covered, you should have a good working understanding of this mineral, you should have an understanding of how to obtain the mineral. Now you can have comfort in knowing that, almost without question, you have a deficit spending situation of this mineral within your body. Eventually, you will run out of credit and the bill will come due. Perhaps it might be best to try to pay a little bit as we go as it applies to this mineral.  

Thank you for your time and interest in these E-Lectures. I appreciate you working with all of you in this project.