Alum As Medicine – Ben Cao Medical Book

Definition: Alum is an astringent salt, usually occurring in the form of pale crystals, much used in the dyeing and tanning trade and in certain medicines.

Odour & Nature: Sour, cold in nature, non-toxic,

Indications & Formulas:

Water solution of alum and pounded fruit of honeylocust (牙皂角) can be a remedy for stroke.

Boiled water with alum and honey can be taken to stimulate mucus clearance.

Alum, fine leaf tea and honey can be processed into pills for oral taking to clear wind related phlegm.

Alum, fruits of croton and vinegar can be pounded and used externally to heal throat abscess.

A mouth rinse using water solution of alum and wax cells of a honeycomb can help to treat a toothache.

A mouth rinse using water solution of alum (boil water with alum first and let it cool down) can treat bleeding gums.

A mixture of alum and yellow lead (铅丹) can be pounded and used externally to treat tongue blisters as well as stab wounds.

Sulfur, dried alum (Chinese: 枯矾), cinnabar and flour can be made into pills to treat severe diarrhea.

In case of oral thrush, alum and cinnabar can be pounded and used externally to help to cure the illness.

The alum powder can be used with the method of insufflation to treat a severe nosebleed.

Powdered alum mixed with lard oil can be used externally to help remove nasal polyps.

Water solution of liquorice and alum can be used to treat swollen eyelids.

A mixture of green patina powder and white alum powder can be applied to kill head louse (or pediculus humanus capitis, an obligate ectoparasite of humans that causes head lice infestation).

A mixture of vermilion and white alum can be pounded and processed into pills; the pills can be taken with tea and ginger juice to help remove mucus in the chest. 

A mixture of lead acetate, green patina (verdigris) powder and alum are to be pounded for external application to treat mouth sores.

Ointment made from green patina powder and dried alum can be used to heal sores in the nose.

A mixture of vermilion and dried alum can be pounded and burned near the affected body part to treat acute and chronic sprains, contusions and traumas. 

Boiled water solution with fried alum powder can be used to reduce knee pain.

Green vitriol, alum and flour can be processed into pills for oral taking to treat edema.

A mixture of alum, honey and dried almond are to be pounded and made into pills for external usage to treat irregular menstrual periods and vaginal discharge.

Powdered alum mixed with dried concha ostreae powder (牡蛎粉) can be taken with wine to treat enuresis (more commonly known as bed-wetting. Nocturnal enuresis, or bed-wetting at night, is the most common type of elimination disorder).

A mixture of alum and repeatedly boiled water (百沸汤) can be used to cure vomiting and diarrhea.

Proper dosage of alum and chebulagic acid (诃黎勒) are to be pounded into powder for oral taking. The powder can be taken with rice soup to treat chronic diarrhea in the elderly.

A mixture of pomegranate peel and alum powder can serve as a remedy for psoriasis (a long-lasting autoimmune disease which is characterized by patches of abnormal skin. These skin patches are typically red, itchy, and scaly).

Brunt alum mixed with warm wine can be used to treat nettle rash in infants.

Boiled water with alum, broom cypress fruit (地肤子) can be used externally to treat verruca (sometimes called plantar warts or spelled verrucae – are warts that develop on the soles of the feet).

Pounded and burnt alum can be an external remedy to treat ingrown nail.

A mixture of alum, yellow lead (铅丹), sodium sulfate (朴硝) can be an external treatment for foot corns aka heloma molle (鸡眼肉刺).

Powdered alum and saltpeter (Chinese: 硝石) can be taken with barley porridge to treat disappearing of testicles after sex.

Ferrous sulfate (green vitriol), yellow iron sulfate, alum and musk can be pounded and used externally to treat wearing of the teeth.

The Ben Cao Medical Book (also known as Compendium of Materia Medica or Ben Cao Gang Mu; Chinese: 本草纲目) is the most famous and comprehensive medical book ever written in the history of traditional Chinese medicine (TCM). Compiled and written by Li Shi-zhen (1518~1593), a medical expert of the Ming Dynasty (1368-1644) over 27 years.

The Ben Cao Medical Book records and describes all the plants, animals, minerals, and other objects that were believed to have medicinal properties in TCM. The book reflects the pharmaceutical achievements and developments of East Asia before the 16th century. On the basis of his predecessors’ achievements in the pharmacological studies, Li contributed further by supplementing and rectifying many past mistakes and misconception in relate to nature of many medicinal substances and causes of various illnesses. Charles Darwin, originator of the biological theory of evolution, regards the book as the “ancient Chinese encyclopedia”.

Disclaimer: The Ben Cao Medical Book is translated by The information on this website is not intended to replace a one-on-one relationship with a qualified health care professional and is not intended as medical advice. It is intended as a sharing of CTM knowledge and information from the research and experience from the author Li Shi-zhen. Kindly be alert that the CTM knowledge and ancient formulas given above are likely NOT medically proven and may contain misconceptions.

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