English Name: alumen
Pharmaceutical Name: Alumen
Medica Category: Substances for Topical Application
Properties: Ming Fan enters the Lung, Liver, Spleen, Stomach, and Large Intestine channels. It is sour in nature, cold in temperature, and considered toxic according to TCM theory.
The Chinese Herb Ming Fan is the chemical compound potassium sulfate, which is commonly known as alumen (or the more general term alum). It occurs naturally as encrustations on certain types of volcanic rock that are refined down into a crystalline powder. Historically, Ming Fan has been used in the practice of TCM since the second century AD for its astringency and its ability to clear heat-toxins, and it is still used today (almost always topically) to address various dermatological disorders.
Ming Fan eliminates toxins, kills parasites, dries dampness, and stops itching. It is used topically (as a wash) to address such clinical presentations as scabies, ringworm, rashes, vaginal discharge, genital itching, and various toxic swellings (e.g. abscesses and hemorrhoids).
Ming Fan is astringent in nature and can be used to stop bleeding, chronic diarrhea, and the loss of body fluids.
Ming Fan clears heat and expels phlegm and can be used in formula to address wind-phlegm disorder, a condition characterized by mania, epilepsy, seizures, and the vomiting up of phlegm.
Ming Fan clears damp-heat and can be used clinically to address damp-heat jaundice.
General comments about TCM substances for topical application: these substances are categorized differently because many of them are toxic and so should not be used internally; nor should they be used for prolonged periods or at large dosages. This word of caution extends to using these substances over damaged or broken skin, or near sensory orifices through which they can be absorbed and do damage to sensitive/specialized tissues and mucosa. Furthermore, many of these substances are no longer used in TCM and have been added to this glossary for informational and academic purposes.
Ming Fan is almost always used externally due to its toxicity. If used internally, extreme caution must be exercised.
Contraindicated in the absence of damp-heat symptoms.
Contraindicated for persons with Spleen/Stomach deficiency.