ALUM.- Sulphate of Alumina and Potash. Alumina
RATIONALE OF ITS ACTION.
This is a compound of Alumina, 10.92; Potash, 10.08; and Sulphuric-acid, 33.68, and in its action in partakes of some of the properties of all these articles. It is generally supposed to act very much like Sulphuric-acid, only somewhat less severely, and more purely as an astringent. Others have compared its action to that of Sulphate of Zinc, Acetate of Lead, Sulphate of Iron, Alum is said to be purely and simple astringent remedy, but
Potash which it contains also renders it somewhat of an alternative and deobstruent medicines. Besides, as all the Alums of commerce contain more or less of Sulphate of Iron, varying from five to seven parts in a thousand, it is also somewhat tonic and blood-improving in its action. The immediate topical effect of a solution of Alum is corrugation of fibres and contraction of small vessels, by virtue of which it checks or temporarily stops exhalation and secretion, and produces paleness of parts by diminishing the diameters of small vessels. It is by these local effects that Alum, when taken internally, causes dryness of the mouth and throat, somewhat increases thirst, checks the secretions of the alimentary canal, and hereby diminishes the frequency and increases the consistency of the stools, as observed by Wibmer, when taken in doses of three grains, dissolved in five drachms of water several times a day. When taken internally, in moderate doses, it is absorbed in to the system, and has been detected in the liver, spleen, and urine. Kraus has noticed that the urine becomes remarkably acid from the use of Alumina When taken in large quantities, the adstriction is soon followed by irritation, and the paleness by preternatural redness; it may thus excite nausea, vomiting, griping, and purging, and even an inflammatory condition of the alimentary canal; effects which may sometimes be induced by small quantities in persons endowed with unusual or morbid sensibility of the stomach and bowels. Barthez, from half-drachm doses, solved in one ounce of distilled water, experienced a sense of contraction in the stomach, lasting for a quarter of an hour, followed by acute aching in the stomach. From one drachm doses, solved in two ounces of water, he merely felt a more decided sense of contraction of the stomach; his appetite was never disturbed, on the contrary he rather thought that it was increased. From two and a half, drachm doses he felt an inclination to vomit, lasting for a quarter of an hour, but no vomiting ensued; three drachm doses caused vomiting and constipation; the vomiting was easy and not preceded by much nausea. Alum was detected chemically in his stools.- J.C.P.
From doses sufficiently large to cause death i n animals: The stomach was found filled with a large quantity of fluid; its internal surface, throughout all its extent, was covered with a greyish substance, intermixed with greenish and bilious-looking particles; the mucous membrane was extensively reddened or inflamed, especially in the greater cul-de-sac, which was dark brown in color; near the pylorus were extra-ordinary thick and hard, as if they had been tanned, and were very firm under the knife; the walls of the small bowels were slightly thickened, and coated with a yellowish-white granular substance; the large bowels were filled with a greenish offensive fluid. As Alum has been but little used by homeopathic physicians, a large portion of the clinical remarks must be derived from allopathic sources; this is not to be regretted, because we take it for granted that homoeopathic claim to know, not only all that is contained in old-school writings and experience, but a great deal more. Hence we must take heed that our old-school brethren are not in possession of new or old facts which we are not acquainted.- J.C.P.
Alum is not supposed to act as prominently on the nervous system as Sulphate of Zinc or Acetate of Lead.
Nervous of Motion.
It is said, from its action in lead and other colics and in whooping cough, to be an antispasmodic; but Copland thinks it cures lead colic by exciting the partially paralyzed muscular coat of the bowels, and thereby enabling them to expel retained matters of a noxious description. Too little is known about its action upon muscular fibres and nerves of motion to hazard any decided opinion. Among the symptoms enumerated by Fournier, in the case of a lady who had taken a large quantity of Alum, we find “slight convulsive movements.” Orfila also alludes to a similar case.- J.C.P.
Nerves of Sensation.
It is not known that Alum acts specifically upon any of the nerves of sensation.
It is generally supposed that the action of Alum upon the nervous system is confined to the ganglionic nerves; it may be propagated thence to the vascular system, as these nerves follow the blood-vessels into every part of the human frame.
HEART AND ARTERIES.
The especial action of Alum upon the heart and arteries, apart from its astringent action, has not not been particularly investigated.
Alum is supposed to exert not only a blood coagulating, but also an antiseptic power on the venous blood. By adstriction of the capillaries it may impede the return of blood from the arteries, and thus operate upon the venous system.
CAPILLARY SYSTEM. This seems to be the great field of the action of Alumina It exerts an astringent effect upon the capillaries of all the mucous and serous surfaces, upon the lymphatic and blood- conveying vessels; hence it moderates or checks all profuse mucous fluxes arising from atony of the parts; and by exerting a tonico-mucous fluxes arising from atony of the parts; and by exerting a tonico-astringent action upon the tone of the vessels, it prevents passive haemorrhages, and even opposes the tendency to liquefaction and putrefaction of the organic mass when such is in operation.
LYMPHATIC SYSTEM AND GLANDULAR SYSTEM. It is not known whether Alum exerts any specific and peculiar action upon these systems apart from its tonic and astringent action.
Notwithstanding that Alum causes dryness of the tongue, mouth, and throat, similar to that which obtains in typhus and typhoid fever, it still has been strongly recommended in those diseases by Fuster, Fouquier, Dobler, and Skoda. The two former recommended it in the second stage of abdominal typhus, when, in consequence of ulceration of the abdominal mucus membrane and of its glandular apparatus, there are ichorous, offensive, and blood-mixed loose stools. In 1838, Drs. Dobler, Skoda, Herz, and folwarenzy placed their sold reliance upon it; many hundreds of causes have been treated and saved by it.- J.C.P.
In dilation of the heart, and aneurism of the aorta, Alum has been advised by Kreysig and Dzondi. Sundelin also mentions a case of supposed dilation of the heart, in which relief was gained by the use of the Alumina
The value of Alum in menorrhagia and haematuria has been already considered under the appropriate heads. In purely atonic haemoptysis it likewise proves serviceable. Dr. Theophilus Thompson considers that it one of the best direct astringents that can be employed, and thinks it acts more efficiency when allowed to dissolve in the mouth than when taken in mixture. In atonic haematemesis, Alum thrice daily in combination with Opium has proved serviceable, although it is of inferior efficacy to the Acetate of Lead. In haemorrhage from leech-bites, in that from the gums after the extractions of a tooth, and in other superficial bleedings, a saturated solution, or the powder of Alum, locally applied, is often an effectual styptic. In haemorrhages, whether proceeding from an exhalation or exudation from the extremities, or pores of the minute vessels, or from a rupture of a blood-vessel, or pores of the minute vessels, or from a rupture of a blood-vessel, a solution, or, in some cases, the powder of alum, may be used with advantage to temporarily constringe the capillary vessels, and close their bleeding orifices.- J.C.P.
It has been used successfully in a peculiar form of mental alienation, in which the patient plagues his family continually, keeps his or her bed almost entirely, without apparent necessity, has an appearance of embonpoint from general bloating, but a sickly and sallow complexion, with burning down the oesophagus, tenderness over the stomach, cough, and insupportable pain near the left groin or ovary. Under the use of Alum, the patient will soon leave his bed, become rational and affectionate towards his family, and attend to his duties.
In profuse atonic epistaxis, the injection of a solution of Alum into the nostrils often proves epistaxis, the injection of a solution of Alum into the nostrils often proves effectual in arresting the discharge. It is frequently also applied by means of a plug soaked in a saturated solution, and pressed up the nostril. Several cases of polypus of the nose are reported as cured by simply snuffing up a solution of Alumina Alum, reduced to an impalpable powder, and snuffed into the nostrils, has, in a few cases within my own knowledge, effected cures of copious catarrhal discharges. As an application to nasal polypi, we can vouch for its utility.
In purulent ophthalmia, a collyrium of Alum is a useful cleansing application. In the severe forms, a saturated solution of Alum, dropped into the eye, is occasionally of great service. In the purulent ophthalmia of Egypt, Clot Bey found great benefit from dropping into the eye a saturated solution of Alum and Sulphate of Zincum met.
Dr. Rognetta speaks highly of its vulva. In the ophthalmia of India commonly known as country sore eye, Waring speaks from experience of the efficacy of the following native preparation; Place some finely powered Alum on a heated plate of iron, and whilst the salt is in a state of fusion, add a small portion of lemon or lemon-juice, until it forms a soft black mass. This, while hot, is placed entirely round the orbit, taking care that none of it gets beneath the eye-lids, as it causes under causes circumstances intense agony. One or two applications, each being allowed to remain on twelve hours, are, sufficient in ordinary cases to effect a cure. In the ophthalmia of infants, after the subsidence of acute inflammation, a colyrium of Alum is one of the most serviceable applications which can be recourse to. Waring employed it with success in hundreds of cases. It has also the recommendation of Ramsbottom, Lawrence, Pereira. In ophthalmia-tarsi, a similar colyrium is advised by Howard. In the purulent ophthalmia of infants, it forms the most efficacious remedy we possess. In these cases it is usually applied in the form of the Alum cataplasm. In ecchymosis of the eye, an Alum poultice is an effectual application. It is made by agitating a small piece of Alum with the white of an egg, until it forms a coagulum. This is placed between two pieces of linen rag, and applied to the eye for some hours. In the latter stages of conjunctival inflammation it is often proper. As regards topical applications to the eye, a certain amount of judgment should be used. In he first stage of ophthalmia, it is sometimes consider expedient to out short the disease by the application of strong astringent solution. “It is not to be denied,” says Dr. Jacob, “that such applications may have the effect of arresting the disease at once; bug, if they have not that effect, they are liable to produce an increase or irritation.” But, as the details necessary for making the student acquainted with all the circumstances respecting the application of stimulating or astringent application, in the first stage of stimulating or astringent applications, in the first stage of ophthalmia, are too lengthened and numerous to a limit of their proper discussion in this work, I must refer for further particulars to the essay of Dr. Jacob’s (“Cyclopaedia of Pract. Medorrhinum,” art. Ophthalmia), as well as to the treatises of writers on ophthalmic surgery. I may, however, add, that whatever difference of opinion exists as to the propriety of these applications in the first stage of ophthalmia, all are agreed as to their value after the violence of vascular action has been subdued. In the treatment of the purulent ophthalmia of infants, no remedy is perhaps equal to an Alum wash. In purulent discharges from the ears, topical applications of a solution of Alum are often serviceable. We have frequently seen chronic otorrhoea disappear under the use of injections of Alum water. In affections of the mouth, involving a congested state of the mucous membranes, much benefit is often derived from the local application of Alumina- J.C.P.
In ulceration and sponginess of the gums, whether mercurial or scorbutic, the lotion as for ulceration of the throat is found highly serviceable. It should be used several times daily. To scorbutic ulcers, very finely powdered Alum, in substance, may be applied. If forms a useful astringent wash in certain states o mercurial sore mouth, and is used with the best effect to check profuse ptyalism, whether from the abuse of Mercury or other causes. It is an excellent topical application, in the form of power, in profuse haemorrhages after the extraction of teeth.
In catarrhal affections of the throat and fauces, Alum is highly recommended as a local application. In chronic cases, when the mucous membrane is such congested, and covered with mucus, which gives rise to a troublesome cough, Alum gargles afford great relief and benefit. In ulceration and relaxation of the throat, a solution of Alum in water, or decoction of Cinchona, proves a very useful gargle for ordinary cases. It has been employed successfully as a gargle in elongation and loss of contractile power of the uvula. As an internal remedy in chronic ulcerations of the mucous membrane of the throat and pharynx, it is a remedy of great value. We have cured cases of this kind with small doses of Alum, after having been baffled for months with other medicines, which at first appeared to be more homoeopathic. Dr. Marcy says, he is acquainted with a number of obstinate cases, which have been quite cured by the internal and topical use of the Rockville Alum spring water of Virginia.
When confined in the stomach, Alum causes inflammation of the entire mucous membrane, worse near the great cul-de-sac, where it is of a deep brown color. The walls of the stomach are much thickened at the pyloric extremity, and hardened as if tanned. The walls of the small intestines are slightly thickened, and lined with a light yellowish substance. Traces of Alum may be found in the stomach long after it has been taken.
In catarrhal affections of the stomach, Sir J. Murray speaks in the highest terms of Alumina In one aggravated case, attended with pyrosis, a complete cure was effected by Alum in electuary. He considers that it renders the mucous coats more firm, and restores their tone and strength. He considers it especially useful in the peculiar affection of the stomach, attended by the frequent vomiting of a large quantity of glairy fluid. In prescribing Alum, it should be remembered that the vegetable astringents decompose it, by which the astringent property of the mixture is probably diminished.
Alum was first given in colica-pictonum, by a Dutch physician named Grashuis, and was afterwards, in 1774, used in fifteen cases by Dr. Percival, with great success, and subsequently its efficacy was fully established. It allays vomiting, abates flatulence, mitigates pain, and opens the bowels, frequently when other powerful remedies have failed. The modus operandi of Alum in lead colic is not very clear, but the theory of its action is, that it converts the poisonous salt of lead in the system into an innocuous sulphate, and in support of this view must be mentioned the fact, that other sulphates (as those of Magnesia, Soda, Zinc, and Copper), as well as free Sulphuric- acid, have been successfully employed in the lead colic. But, on the other hand, the presence of lead in the primae-viae or evacuations had not been demonstrated, though experiments have shown that when the Acetate of Lead is swallowed, the greater portion of it forms an insoluble combinations with the gastro- intestinal mucus, and in this state may remain some time in the alimentary canal. Alum has also been found successful in other varieties of colic not caused by head, and unaccompanied by constipation. In large doses it acts as a purgative.
In abdominal typhus, which was epidemic in Vienna in 1838, chief reliance was placed on the internal exhibition of Alumina Under every phase of the disease-diarrhoea, delirium, and debility-it is stated to have been equally beneficial. It was found particularly serviceable in checking the exhausting diarrhoea.- F.G.S.
In infantile cholera, Alum has been found to be signally successful. Of sixty-seven cases treated with it by Dr. Durr only seven died. The ages of the children varied from the period of birth of fifteen months. In chronic diarrhoea, and diarrhoea- mucosa, depending upon a relaxed condition of the mucous intestinal membrane, Alum given internally is often attended with great amelioration. Drs. Adair and Harrison speak favorably of it in this class of cases. In chronic dysentery, Alum was formerly held in high repute. It has been advised, variously combined, by Birnstiel, Loos, Hunnius, Michaelis, Hargens,. Moseley and Jackson employed it, and Adair found it useful, combined with Opium and aromatics, in epidemic dysentery, occurring among negroes.
Injection of Alum water, or of Alum they, are very useful in the copious and frequent haemorrhages which sometimes accompany piles and abrasions of the mucous membrane of the rectum. Cases of this kind now and then reduce patients to a very low and dangerous condition, and appear to resist all internal remedies. The astringent and toughening effect of these injections have, in some instances, arrested the bleeding and permanently.
In prolapsus of the rectum the injection of a solution of Alum proves serviceable. It may also used in painful bleeding piles, when unattended by inflammation.
In haematuria, which resists the action of the Acetate of Lead and other ordinary remedies, the injection into the bladder of a solution of Alum is sometimes effectual in arresting the discharge; this, how ever, should not be had recourse to until it has been ascertained that the bladder, and not the kidneys, is the seat of the disease. Dr. Prout observes that he has never seen any unpleasant consequences follow the use of this expedient; and that he has seen it arrest the most formidable haemorrhage when all other remedies had failed, and when the bladder had repeatedly become again distended with blood, almost immediately after its removal. If, after the use of the injection, coagulae remain in the bladder, they should be broken up by repeated injections of cold water. Alum may be given internally at the same time; although, as an internal remedy, it is less efficacious than Gallic-acid. In catarrh of the bladder it is highly spoken of by Sir J. Eyre. In diabetes, under the idea that the discharge might be arrested by the use of powerful astringents, Alum, in combination with other remedies of the same class, was advised by Doctor, Brocklesby, and other; but Dr. Brisbane satisfactorily proved that it was incapable of arresting the disease. Kraus observes that the urine becomes very acid from the use of Alumina It has been used successfully against incontinence of urine. In one case of irritable bladder, in which the patient was obliged to pass urine every hour or two, both by day and night, grain doses of the first trituration of Alum every four hours effected a cure in six weeks.- F.G.S.
In gonorrhoea and gleet, the injection of a solution of Alum is often productive of benefit. Dr. Friedrich, of Leipsic, also advised its internal use, as well in the inflammatory is in the chronic stage. He states, that under its use, all the symptoms subsided rapidly, and that he never saw any ill effects from its employment. In obstinate cases it may be advantageously combined with Cubebs. In gonorrhoea-praeputialis, a weak solution of Alum, combined with Aloes, proves highly serviceable. It is also sometimes used in conjunction with Sulphate of Zincum met. The decoction of Oak-bark often forms a good vehicle. Dr. Burne found this solution most serviceable when simply applied continuously to the external parts. Dr. Dewees states that in some obstinate cases he has effected a cure by Alum and Nitro. In menorrhagia and uterine haemorrhage, Alum internally has been advised by Lentin, Muller, Hufeland, Dewees, and if often proves effectual in controlling the discharge. Dr. Ferguson regards it as a highly useful styptic, and advises it in small doses with syrup of Ginger, three or four times daily. In purely atonic cases, Alumin solution may be used as a vaginal injection. It is inadmissible if any inflammatory symptoms are present. In morbid growths and ulcerations of the uterine cavity, or of the os- uteri, an Alum hip-bath and vaginal i injection are strongly advised by Drs. Lange and Ashwell, and its utility is confirmed by Delmas, Recamier, and others. Care should be taken that the fluid passes well up into the vagina. In prolapsus-uteri the same measure is attended with the best effects. Dr. Nevins also speaks highly of a pessary, composed of equal parts of powdered gall and Alum, enclosed in a fine muslin bad. It has been recommended internally and locally against hypertrophy, induration, and excoriation of the womb. It will often cure obstinate ulcerated buboes rapidly when applied locally.- F.G.S.