Important Information About Cream Of Tartar

Dissolve the cream of tartar into warm water or a warm flavored drink.

You can also add a pinch of cream of tartar to boiling vegetables to help them retain their bright, fresh color.
A pinch of cream of tartar also helps stabilize whipped cream to prevent it from deflating.

Cream of tartar (potassium bitartrate) is a common baking ingredient, which can be used to stabilize whipped egg whites (e.g., in meringues) or when combined with baking powder can be used as a leavening agent. It has also been used to make homemade play dough and as an environmentally friendly cleaning agent. Cream of tartar has long been used as a remedy for a number of ailments. In medical studies, it has been shown to be an effective stool softener and, when combined with sodium bicarbonate in a polyethylene glycol-based suppository, as a treatment for chronic constipation [1, 2]. In addition, many websites recommend cream of tartar as “natural” remedy for a variety of conditions including cystitis, smoking cessation, and as a laxative [3–5]. Despite its myriad uses, there are no cases in the literature describing toxicity from ingesting cream of tartar. We report two cases in which ingestion of cream of tartar, as a purgative, resulted in life-threatening hyperkalemia

Case Reports

In two cases, individuals ingested a large quantity of cream of tartar (six tablespoons) in an effort to “clean themselves out”. They manifested similar initial symptoms (vomiting), abnormal serum potassium (>8.0 mmol/L), and EKG’s with peaked T waves. Both patients were treated for hyperkalemia and recovered without complication. A search for articles on an academic internet database failed to identify any cases specifically dealing with ill effects of potassium bitartrate and numerous websites continue to purport its beneficial health effects.

Conclusion

Ingestion of cream of tartar can potentially result in life-threatening hyperkalemia.

Keywords: Cream of tartar, Potassium bitartrate, Hyperkalemia, Purgative.

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Disclaimer

The information on this website should not take the place of medical advice. We encourage you to talk to your healthcare providers (doctor, registered dietitian, pharmacist, etc.) about your interest in, questions about, and what may be best for your overall health. Any mention in this publication of a specific product or service, or recommendation from an organization or professional society, does not represent an endorsement by this website of that product, service, or expert advice.

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