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An Alum is a double Sulphate, formed by the union of a Sulphate of Aluminum, Chromium, Manganum or Ferrum, with a Sulphate of an alkaline metal or group (Potassium, Sodium, or Ammonium).

The Official Alum is Aluminum and Potassium Sulphate, or Potassium Alum, (K2Al24SO4 + 24H2O), which becomes Alumen Exsiccatum, Dried Alum, when the 24molecules of water are driven off.


Alumen, Alum, Potassium Alum,—is soluble in 9 parts of water at 59° F., very soluble in hot water. Dose, gr. x-xx; as an emetic, ℥j for a child.
Alumen Exsiccatum, Dried Alum, K2Al2(SO4)4,—Dose, gr. x-xx.

Administration. Being a double salt, Alum is very easily decomposed when in solution with other salts, the double decomposition which therein ensues giving rise to insoluble precipitates; therefore it is best administered alone. Incompatibles are salts of Iron, Manganese, Bismuth, Antimony, Lead, and salts of most of the alkaloids.

Physiological Action. Alum is an astringent, stimulating muscular con traction and coagulating albumen It first excites the flow of saliva, and then markedly diminishes it. Coagulating pepsin, it arrests digestion, also stops peristalsis, and usually causes constipation, though sometimes inducing diarrhoea. Although coagulating albumen, even in a weak solution, it enters the blood, constricts the capillaries, arrests secretions, especially those of mucous surfaces, and stops capillary hemorrhage.

In teaspoonful doses Alum is an efficient and non-depressant emetic, In large doses it is a gastro intestinal irritant, ℥j5/8 of dried Alum having caused the death of an adult in eight hours.

Therapeutics. It is used locally and internally. In—

Gastric Catarrh,—Alum is useful, especially when there is vomiting of glairy mucus, in doses of gr. iv-viij, in pill, ter die.
Gastralgia, Enteralgia, and other neuroses,—it is often very efficient.
Chronic Catarrhs,—powdered Alum dusted over the surface.
Leucorrhoea, Gonorrhoea,—injections of Alum with Zinc Sulphate or Borax, are commonly recommended, and are efficiently employed.
Hemorrhages of passive character, and at distant points—are well treated by Alum in 15-grain doses internally, also locally if possible.
Hemorrhoids,—a crystal of Alum, shaped to fit the rectum, may be inserted.
Croup,—Alum is a good emetic, a teaspoonful in syrup every half hour.
Bed-sores,—Alum 1 part with 2 of Spiritus Camphorae and the whites of four eggs, is a very efficient application.
Ulcers, Sores, etc., when exuberant granulations, burnt Alum as a caustic.
Colliquative Sweats,—an Alum lotion sponged over the skin.
Catarrhal Ophthalmia, after acute stage,—an Alum lotion, gr. v to the ℥.
Granular Lids,—a crystal of Alum is the very best application.
Lead Colic and Constipation,—are most promptly relieved, even cured, by Alum, which acts dynamically, no doubt. It is also a good antidote in Lead-poisoning, being a soluble sulphate.

A Compend of Materia Medica, Therapeutics, and Prescription Writing, 1902, by Sam'l O. L. Potter, M.D., M.R.C.P.L.