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MSc (Biotechnology), BSc
Ayurvedic View By
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Last updated on:
14 Aug 2019 | 03:00 PM (IST)
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Alum

Alum
Alum or Phitkari, is a transparent salt like substance that is used in cooking as well as for medicinal purposes. There are various types of Alum such as Potassium Alum or Potass, Ammonium, Chrome, Selenate.
In Ayurveda, Alum (Phitkari) is used in the form of Bhasma (Pure Ash) called as Sphatika Bhasma. The Sphatika Bhasma is used to manage whooping cough by reducing the accumulation of mucus in the lungs. Drinking Alum decoction two times a day might also provide relief from dysentery and diarrhea due to its drying property.
Alum mixed with wax has been used by women to remove unwanted hair. It is also beneficial for tightening and whitening of the skin due to its astringent property. Alum causes cells to shrink and removes excess oil from the skin making it effective for the reduction of acne scars and pigmentation marks. The topical application of Alum is found to be beneficial for mouth ulcers due to its strong healing activity[1].

What are the synonyms of Alum?

Potassium Aluminum sulphate, Bulk potassium Alum, Sulphate of Alumina and Potash, Aluminous sulphate, Phitikhar, Phitkar, Phitkari, Phatikari, Surashtraja, Kamakshi, Tuvari, Sithi, Angda, Venmali, Phatkiri, Phatkari, Patikaram, Adikharum, Shinacrum, Pattikaramu, Tawas, Trae phitki[1].

What is the source of Alum?

Plant Based

Benefits of Alum

1. Bleeding piles
Piles are known as Arsh in Ayurveda which is caused by an unhealthy diet and a sedentary lifestyle. This leads to the impairment of all the three doshas, mainly Vata. An aggravated Vata causes a low digestive fire, leading to constipation. This causes swelling in the veins in the rectum area leading to piles mass. Sometimes bleeding can also occur in this condition. Alum (Sphatika bhama) helps to control bleeding. This is due to its Kashaya (astringent) and Raktastambhak (hemostatic) properties.
Tips:
a. Take 1-2 pinch of Alum (Sphatika bhasma).
b. Mix with one teaspoon honey.
c. Have it twice a day after taking light food to manage piles.

2. Whooping Cough
Alum (Sphatika bhasma) helps to control the symptoms of whooping cough. It reduces mucus in the lungs and controls vomiting in some cases of whooping cough. This is due to its Kashaya (astringent) property.
Tips:
a. Take 1-2 pinch of Alum (Sphatika bhasma).
b. Mix with one teaspoon honey.
c. Have it twice a day after taking light food to control whooping cough.

3. Menorrhagia
Menorrhagia or heavy menstrual bleeding is known as Raktapradar or excessive secretion of menstrual blood. This is due to an aggravated Pitta dosha. Alum (Sphatika bhasma) balances an aggravated Pitta and controls heavy menstrual bleeding. This is due to its Kashaya (astringent) and Raktastambhak (hemostatic) properties.
Tips:
a. Take 1-2 pinch of Alum (Sphatika bhasma).
b. Mix with one teaspoon honey.
c. Have it twice a day after taking light food to manage menorrhagia.

Precautions when using Alum

Recommended Dosage of Alum

  • Alum Bhasma - 1-2 pinch twice a day.

How to use Alum

1. Alum Powder
a. Take 1-2 pinch Alum (Sphatika Bhasma).
b. Mix with 1 teaspoon honey.
c. Have it once or twice a day after taking food.

Benefits of Alum

1. Bleeding cuts
Alum is useful in minor bleeding cuts in any part of the body. Alum helps to control bleeding and accelerates the healing process. This is due to its Raktastambhak (hemostatic) properties.
Tips:
a. Take 1-2 pinch of Alum powder.
b. Mix with coconut oil.
c. Apply on the affected area to control bleeding and for quick healing.

2. Wound healing
Alum helps in quick healing of the wound, decreases swelling and brings back the normal texture of the skin. This is due to its Kashaya (astringent) and Ropan (healing) properties. Alum also works on the wound by controlling bleeding because of its Raktastambhak (hemostatic) properties.
Tips:
a. Take 1/4 teaspoon Alum powder.
b. Mix with water and heat it for 5-10 minutes.
c. Remove from heat and let it cool.
d. Wash the wound with this water 2-3 times a day.
e. Repeat daily for quick wound healing.

3. Mouth Ulcer
Mouth ulcers are also known as Mukh Pak in Ayurveda and they usually appear on the tongue, lips, inside the cheeks, inside the bottom lip or on the gums. Alum helps in quick healing of mouth ulcers. This is due to its Kashaya (astringent) and Ropan (healing) properties.
Tips:
a. Take 1-2 pinch Alum powder.
b. Mix with honey as per your requirement.
c. Apply on the affected area once or twice a day.
d. Repeat daily to manage mouth ulcers.

4. Leucorrhea
Leucorrhea is a thick, whitish discharge from the female genitals. According to Ayurveda, leucorrhea is due to an imbalance of Kapha dosha. Alum is useful in leucorrhea because of its Kashaya (astringent) property when Alum powder is used as a vaginal wash.
Tips:
a. Take 1/4 teaspoon Alum powder.
b. Mix with water and heat it for 5-10 minutes.
c. Remove from heat and let it cool.
d. Wash the wound with this water 2-3 times a day.
e. Repeat daily to manage leucorrhea.

Recommended Dosage of Alum

  • Alum Powder - 1-2 pinch of Alum powder or as per your requirement.

How to use Alum

1. Alum Powder
A. Wound wash
i. Add 2-3 pinch of Alum powder to lukewarm water.
ii. Wash your wounds with Alum water followed by plain water 2-3 times a day.

B. Tooth powder
i. Take just 2-3 pinch of Alum powder.
ii. Use it as tooth powder twice a day.

2. Alum Block
a. Take ½-1 Alum block.
b. Wet it properly.
c. Rub over the face after shaving.
d. Let it dry.

Frequently asked questions

Q. Is Alum safe to use?

ayurvedic
Ayurvedic View
Yes, Alum is safe to use externally and internally. In Ayurveda, Alum is used in the form of Bhasma named Sphatika bhasma which can be taken orally to manage various diseases.

Q. How much Alum do I put in my water?

scientific
Modern Science View
The quantity that can be used may vary from 5 mg to 70 mg. It highly depends on the turbidity (cloudiness in the water due to the presence of suspended particles) of the water. Clear water needs less quantity while turbid water needs more quantity of Alum.

Q. What does Alum do?

scientific
Modern Science View
Alum has various applications. Most commonly it is used in pharmaceutical, cosmetic industry and food industries.

Q. Is Alum a spice?

scientific
Modern Science View
Alum is not a spice. It is a mineral that exists in the crystalline form. It is used for making some cuisines and pickles as a preservative. However excess use of Alum should be avoided in food preparations.

Q. How does Alum help in controlling bleeding?

scientific
Modern Science View
Alum has an astringent property that helps reduce bleeding from minor wounds. It also works in skin contraction and helps to close wound openings.

Q. Is Alum acidic or alkaline?

scientific
Modern Science View
Alum is acidic in nature. 1% solution of Alum has a pH of 3.

Q. How do you apply Alum to underarms?

scientific
Modern Science View
Alum can be used as an effective remedy to lighten dark underarms.
Tips:
1. Gently rub Alum onto your underarms.
2. Keep it for 20 minutes and then wash it off with plain water.
3. Applying regularly will help make the skin tone lighter.

Q. What is Alum used for in cooking?

scientific
Modern Science View
In terms of cooking, Alum is generally used as an ingredient in bakery as a preservative. It is used in pickles and to maintain the freshness of fruits and vegetables.

Q. How to use Alum on the face?

scientific
Modern Science View
Alum can be used on the face after shaving:

1. Take 1 block of Alum (available in the market).
2. Wet the block.
3. Then, rub the Alum block gently onto the shaved area.
4. Leave it till it gets dry and wash with cool plain water.

Q. Is Alum good for piles?

scientific
Modern Science View
es, Alum is beneficial in case of piles. Alum, when injected into the piles, leads to narrowing of the wall of the blood vessel. This reduces the blood flow and prevents piles. It also reduces the size of the piles[5][6].
Tip:
Potassium Aluminum sulphate is mixed with tannic acid and injected into the piles[5][6].

Q. Does Alum cause diarrhea?

ayurvedic
Ayurvedic View
No, Alum or Sphatika bhasma helps to control diarrhea. This is due to its Kashaya (astringent) property.

Q. Does Alum cause constipation?

ayurvedic
Ayurvedic View
Alum or Sphatika helps to improve digestion but it can cause constipation if you already have a history of constipation. This is due to its Kashaya (astringent) nature.

Q. Is Alum safe to ingest?

ayurvedic
Ayurvedic View
According to Ayurveda, Alum (Phitkarii) can be ingested in the form of Bhasma called as Sphatika Bhasma. Alum (Sphatika) is heated in a pan until all the water evaporates. At the end of the process, white powder is collected which is known as Sphatika Bhasma.

Q. What are the uses of Alum for teeth?

scientific
Modern Science View
Alum has extremely impressive benefits for teeth. It has antiseptic properties that help to fight against tooth decay. This further prevent cavities and strengthen the gums[11].
ayurvedic
Ayurvedic View
Alum is an effective remedy for teeth and gums related problems. Alum helps to prevent tooth decay and also control bleeding gums because of its Kashaya (astringent) property.
Tips:
1. Take a pinch of Alum powder.
2. Mix the powder with warm water.
3. Use this solution as a mouthwash daily.
4. This mouthwash tightens the gums and helps to manage toothache.

Q. Is Alum good for mouth ulcers?

scientific
Modern Science View
Yes, topical use of Alum is good for mouth ulcers. Alum has astringent and hemostatic properties. Alum promotes tissue contraction and decreases the size of the wound. It promotes healing by reducing pain and inflammation. Alum also prevents the recurrence of mouth ulcers[2][3].

Q. Is Alum good for bleeding gums?

scientific
Modern Science View
Yes, Alum is good for bleeding gums. It has hemostatic and astringent properties. It controls bleeding by shrinking the gum tissue. Alum also helps in strengthening the mucous layer of the gums[7].
ayurvedic
Ayurvedic View
Yes, Alum is useful for bleeding gums. Alum helps to control bleeding when applied on the affected area. This is due to its Kashaya (astringent) and Ropan (healing) properties.

Q. Is Alum good for injuries due to burn?

scientific
Modern Science View
Yes, application of Alum is good for injuries due to burn. Alum has good antiseptic and astringent activities. It helps in wound contraction, removal of dead tissue and in the formation of new skin cells. Alum helps in wound healing by inhibiting the bacterial growth and reducing the chance of infection[4].

Q. Is Alum good for tightening the skin?

scientific
Modern Science View
Yes, Alum, a naturally occurring ingredient is considered to be good for tightening the skin. It has an astringent property that causes the cells to shrink and removes excess oil from the skin. Thus, Alum is used in the form of gels or creams for skin care[8].
ayurvedic
Ayurvedic View
Alum is an effective remedy for skin problems. Applying Alum on the affected area helps to control excess oil and tightens the skin due to its Kashaya (astringent) property.
Tips:
1. Rub smoothly a piece of Alum on skin.
2. Then wash with normal water.

Q. Is Alum good for canker sores?

scientific
Modern Science View
Yes, Alum is considered to be good for canker sores (small painful ulcers inside the mouth) due to its astringent property. It helps shrink tissues and dry out canker sores. It also prevents the growth of bacteria and reduces the formation of canker sores[3].
ayurvedic
Ayurvedic View
Yes, Alum is good for canker sores when applied on the affected area because it has Kashaya (astringent) and Ropan (healing) properties. Alum helps to reduce inflammation and accelerate healing of sores.

Q. Is Alum good for eye abscess?

scientific
Modern Science View
Not enough scientific information is available to support the role of Alum in case of eye abscess.

Q. Is Alum good for cracked heels?

scientific
Modern Science View
Yes, Alum is good for cracked heels. It has an astringent property that causes the skin cells to shrink. It also works effectively to soften and smoothen cracked heels and reduces the redness of cracked heels[9].
ayurvedic
Ayurvedic View
Yes, Alum is good for cracked heels when used on the affected area. It also helps control bleeding of cracked heels because of its Kashaya (astringent) and Raktastambhak (hemostatic) properties.

Q. Can Alum be used to remove pimples?

scientific
Modern Science View
Yes, Alum can be used to control pimples due to its astringent property. It helps to remove dirt and bacteria from the skin pores[10].
ayurvedic
Ayurvedic View
Yes, Alum can be used to control pimples when applied on the affected area due to its Kashaya (astringent) property. It helps to reduce inflammation and accelerate the healing process.

Q. Can Alum help remove wrinkles?

scientific
Modern Science View
There is not enough scientific evidence available to support the role of Alum in wrinkles.

Q. Can Alum be used for hair removal?

scientific
Modern Science View
Although not enough scientific information is available to support the role of Alum in case of hair removal. But traditionally Alum mixed with wax has been used by women to remove hair[1].

Q. Does Alum help in skin whitening?

scientific
Modern Science View
Yes, Alum helps in skin whitening because of its astringent property. It causes the cells to shrink and removes excess oil from the skin. This helps to lighten the color of the skin[8].
ayurvedic
Ayurvedic View
Yes, Alum helps to maintain a natural glow of the skin because it helps to control excessive oiliness because of its Kashaya (astringent) property.

References

  1. Ali A, Hamiduddin, Zaigham M.Shibb-e-yamani (alum) a unique drug and its utilization in Unani medicine: A physicochemical and pharmacological review.Int. J. Res. Ayurveda Pharm.2017;8(2):17-22.
  2. Roqaiya M, Begum W. A review on medical aspect of Alum in unani medicine and scientific studies. WJPR.2015;4(6):929-940.
  3. Rafieian N, Abdolsamadi H, Moghadamnia A, et al. Efficacy of Alum for treatment of recurrent aphthous stomatitis. Caspian J Intern Med.2016;7(3):201-205.
  4. Sawarkar P, Sawarkar G. “Management of chronic burn wound by compound ayurvedic preparation Dagdhahar Malahar\" Introduction. Ayurlog: National Journal of Research in Ayurved Science.2018;6(4).
  5. Tomiki Y, Ono S, Aoki J, et al. Treatment of internal hemorrhoids by endoscopic sclerotherapy with Aluminum potassium sulfate and tannic acid. Diagnostic and Therapeutic Endoscopy.2015.
  6. Tokunaga Y, Sasaki H. Impact of less invasive treatments including sclerotherapy with a new agent and hemorrhoidopexy for prolapsing internal hemorrhoids. Int Surg.2013;98:210–213.
  7. Tarighi P, Khoroushi M. A review on common chemical hemostatic agents in restorative dentistry. Dent Res J (Isfahan).2014;11(4):423–428.
  8. Alzomor AK, Moharram AS, Al Absi NM. Formulation and evaluation of potash alum as deodorant lotion and after shaving astringent as cream and gel.International current pharmaceutical journal.2014;3(2):228-233.
  9. Winter JW. The horse in health and disease, etc.Veterinary practice.1846.
  10. Tiziana M.The Natural acne remedy.Medical.2016.
  11. Putt MS, Kleber CJ, Smith CE.Evaluation of an alum-containing mouthrinse in children for plaque and gingivitis inhibition during 4 weeks of supervised use.Pediatric dentistry.1996;18(2):139-144.
Disclaimer
The content is purely informative and educational in nature and should not be construed as medical advice. Please use the content only in consultation with an appropriate certified medical or healthcare professional.

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