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November 16, 1935


Author Affiliations


From the Division of Medicine, the Mayo Clinic.

JAMA. 1935;105(20):1584-1591. doi:10.1001/jama.1935.02760460020005

For two centuries certain potassium salts have been employed as diuretics in clinical medicine. In 1679 Thomas Willis1 recommended the use of potassium nitrate or "salt of niter" in the treatment of dropsy. Wilks and Taylor2 used it successfully in 1863. In 1921 Blum3 and Magnus-Levy4 were able to show that potassium chloride could be administered safely by mouth in relatively large doses and that it produced frequently a satisfactory diuresis. Since then, McCann and his co-workers,5 Osman6 and Barker7 have obtained similar results with potassium citrate, bicarbonate and chloride. Barker emphasized the importance of giving a diet in which the sodium content was low and that of potassium relatively high. It occurred to us in 1932 that potassium nitrate might be the salt of choice, if potassium itself should have an additional diuretic action to the well known effect of the nitrate