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About Potassium Nitrate

by
author image Steve Kevin
Steve R. Kevin has been involved in the medical science article industry for more than six years. He is a Maryland-based writer focusing on neuroscience articles. His articles have been published in PLoS Medicine. He also holds a Doctor of Philosophy in neuroscience from the University of Maryland.
About Potassium Nitrate
Potassium nitrate capsules. Photo Credit Korovin/iStock/Getty Images

Potassium nitrate is a compound of potassium with the molecular formula KNO3. This colorless chemical compound is found pure in nature as the mineral saltpeter, or nitre. Potassium nitrate is a crystalline salt that resembles table salt. It is used as a diuretic. People have been using potassium nitrate as a cure-all for everything from stomach ailments to arthritis. Potassium nitrate has been controversially ascribed with anti-aphrodisiac effects and is supposed to inhibit erections in men.

Properties

Potassium nitrate is a colorless and odorless crystal or powder when ground up. Its liquid form boils at 400 degrees Celsius (752 degree Fahrenheit), and its solid form melts at 333 degree C (631 degree F). It is soluble in water and reacts with various chemicals (except phosphites, organic compounds, other heavy metals and strong acids).

Potassium Nitrate as Medicine

People may wonder why potassium nitrate is called a medicinal element because its use in gunpowder as an oxidation element is well known. History has evidence that it was mined by the Confederate Army, which maintained a Confederate Nitre Bureau at the time of the Civil War.

Researchers have discovered the potential of potassium nitrate as a medicine. If taken under medical supervision in small dosages, medical potassium supplements are known to lower blood pressure. Medical Education Online reports that "potassium supplements, 40-80 mEq/day, lower blood pressure, an effect that is largely lost in patients who are also on a low sodium diet." The scientific community continues to be uncertain about the way in which potassium is related to high blood pressure and vascular diseases. Potassium and blood pressure appear to be inter-related through changes in sodium excretion.

Effects on Nervous System

The basic ion of the fluids in your body cells is potassium. It is known to improve functioning of muscles and nerves when added with sodium, creating the nervous system’s electrical potential. If a person has episodes of vomiting or diarrhea and loses fluid in large amounts, there is a probability of losing potassium as well. This can lead to paralysis of the muscles; on the other hand, if there is an overload of potassium, the person may suffer a heart attack. According to Drugs.com, "It (potassium nitrate) is also used to help reduce painful sensitivity of the teeth to touch; sweets; or hot, cold or acidic substances."

Contra-Indications Of Potassium Nitrate

Potassium nitrate can be dangerous in a few medical situations. These conditions can be identified, and if you are having such a condition, you should not take it as a medicine. These conditions include pregnancy or planning for pregnancy or breast feeding; if you are taking medicines, dietary supplements or herbal preparations; or if you have kidney problems or allergies to food or medicines.

Potassium Nitrate--Libido Killer

Potassium nitrate allegedly has been known to weaken male libido. With age, your libido decreases, affecting your sex life. People take supplements to rejuvenate their sex drives. Some substances known for decreasing sexual arousal are given to sex offenders. According to Science Encyclopedia, "it is claimed that when ingested, saltpeter (potassium nitrate) has a ... sexual-desire-reducing effect." If taken in large doses, it can be fatal.

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