The 12th Invest in ME Conference, Part 1
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Question re potassium bicarbonate

Discussion in 'General ME/CFS Discussion' started by Mary, Feb 10, 2017.

  1. Mary

    Mary Senior Member

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    I want to try potassium bicarbonate either in place of, or more likely in addition to, potassium gluconate to get my daily potassium fix. I want to try the bicarbonate form in the hope that it will help reduce the production of lactic acid and maybe help stave off or lessen PEM, or at least make my body less acidic in general, and hopefully I won't get sick as much. I get sick every time I crash, which tends to be once a week, so I am sick probably 80 - 90% of the time. I do pace myself, but there is a fine line between what I can safely do and not, and I am on my own so have to do all my own shopping, etc., so sometimes it's impossible to avoid crashing.

    I know that potassium bicarbonate will neutralize stomach acid so it's to be taken on a empty stomach. It doesn't taste great of course, but I inadvertently found that when I added it to lemon juice, it fizzes nicely and tastes like soda water. So I would prefer to take it with lemon juice.

    However my concern is that if the bicarbonate is neutralizing the acid in lemon juice, does that mean it will have less ability to neutralize lactic or other acid in my body? @Hip or anyone else, any ideas here?
     
  2. Hip

    Hip Senior Member

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    In this particular case, I don't think the lemon juice will decrease the alkalizing effect on the body that you are after, so I think you will be fine adding lemon juice.

    When you add lemon juice to potassium bicarbonate, the citric acid in the juice will react with the potassium bicarbonate to form potassium citrate. The chemical equation is:

    Citric acid + potassium bicarbonate → potassium citrate + carbon dioxide gas + water.

    So the bicarbonate disappears after this fizzy reaction, but it just so happens that potassium citrate also has an alkalizing effect on the body. In fact, citrate can be a better way to exert an alkalizing effect on the body, because unlike bicarbonate, you can take citrate even with a meal, and it will not react with or reduce the digestive acid in your stomach.


    I don't really know why citrate has an alkalizing effect on the body, but presumably it relates to the way citrate is metabolized.


    Myself, I get quite lightheaded when I taking any alkalizing agents like bicarbonate or citrate: even just ¼ teaspoon of sodium bicarbonate daily is enough to cause this effect in me.
     
    Last edited: Feb 10, 2017
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  3. Mary

    Mary Senior Member

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  4. MastBCrazy

    MastBCrazy

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    I use potassium citrate tablets. I find it is the easiest, and cheapest, way to control dosing. My family doctor monitors my sodium/potassium levels regularly, so constant dosing makes it easier to keep track and make sense of other things that influence the levels.
     
  5. Hip

    Hip Senior Member

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    Yes, I think the lightheadedness probably is due to the alkalinity, as I get the same lightheadedness whether I go on an alkalizing diet, or take alkalizing agents like bicarbonate or citrate.


    I speculated in this post that this lightheadedness side effect might arise because of the brain's mechanism which dilates the cerebral blood vessels when the blood is slightly more acidic, and constricts the blood vessels when the blood is slightly more alkaline.

    So I think what may happen is that when the blood is made more alkaline through an alkalizing diet, the brain constricts its blood vessels and the blood supply to the brain is reduced, leading to a feeling of lightheadedness. Cerebral vasoconstriction is a known cause of lightheadedness.
     
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  6. HowToEscape?

    HowToEscape? Senior Member

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    Please correct me if I'm wrong (not unlikely), but I had the impression that one's blood pH is regulated very closely, and much departure from 'bout 7.4 results in death. Compartments such as the bladder and mouth can depart from 7.4, prbly as part of whatever mechanism the body uses to keep blood pH stable, but neither are where your organs live.

    SO, I don't get the point of alkalizing, unless something is wrong and body is barely able to keep blood pH stable.
     
  7. Mary

    Mary Senior Member

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    When I first took potassium, I used potassium citrate; however it irritated my bladder and contributed to a UTI so I switched to potassium gluconate, which I tolerated much better. But we're all different and am glad this works for you.
     
  8. Hip

    Hip Senior Member

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    Yes, the main buffer that keeps the blood pH very stable is the bicarbonate/carbonic acid buffer, and ingesting an external alkalizing agent like bicarbonate or citrate will barely alter the blood pH at all, because the buffer keeps pH within a very tight range. However, I believe the alkalizing agent will change the dynamics of operation of the buffer system.

    This is analogous to a house with climate control: the climate control will always maintain the house at the same temperature, but the external weather changes the dynamics of operation of the climate control (hot weather turns on the air conditioning, whereas cold weather turns on the heating).

    The health effects of alkalizing diets have not been studied much, but this paper details some of them. From the ME/CFS perspective, the ability of alkalizing diets to raise intracellular magnesium might be of benefit.



    In this instance, though, we are not so much interested in an alkalizing for health, but rather looking at the effect of ingesting bicarbonate on the higher than normal levels of lactic acid that ME/CFS patients produce in their muscle during physical exertion. The lactic acid from exercise puts a strain on the body's buffers, but supplementing with bicarbonate can help neutralize the acidity. This may then in turn reduce post-exertional malaise (PEM).

    This article explains how bicarbonate helps reduce muscle lactic acid:
    It's interesting to note that carnosine is the main buffer in the muscles. I wonder if boosting carnosine levels would also help neutralize lactic acid acidity in the muscles, and reduce PEM. The supplement beta alanine converts to carnosine in the body (and is much cheaper to buy than carnosine).

    Beta alanine is used as a lactic acid-reducing sports endurance supplement, so it may well have positive anti-PEM effects.
     
    Last edited: Feb 11, 2017
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