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Herbs & Botanicals

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Pumice (fu hai shi)

What is pumice? What is it used for?

Pumice is a type of igneous rock produced by volcanic eruptions. During some eruptions, liquid lava is ejected into the air as a frothy mixture that contains gas bubbles. As the lava solidifies, the bubbles are trapped within the rock, resulting in pumice, which has the ability to float in water.

In fact, the pinyin name for pumice is "fu hai shi," which means "float on the sea stone." Although it has a rough exterior, pumice is technically considered a type of glass because it has no crystal structure. It has a variety of industrial uses, including an additive for cement, a polish, an abrasaive, and a cosmetic exfoliant. In addition to its industrial purposes, pumice is an important component of traditional Chinese medicine.

According to the principles of traditional Chinese medicine, pumice has salty and cold properties, and is affiliated to the Lung meridian. Its main functions are to help clear phlegm and thick sputum caused by infections. It also promotes urination and helps treat dysuria, hematuria and gallstones.

How much pumice should I take?

The typical dose of pumice is between 6 and 10 grams, powdered and drunk as a decoction.

What forms of pumice are available?

Whole pumice can be found at gem and mineral stores worldwide. Pumice is also available in capsule, pill and powder forms, and as a part of several herbal formulas.

What can happen if I take too much pumice? Are there any interactions I should be aware of? What precautions should I take?

Pumice should not be used to treat coughs caused by cold or weakness. As of this writing, there are no known adverse effects or drug interactions associated with pumice. As always, however, make sure to consult with a licensed health care provider before taking pumice or any other herbal remedy or dietary supplement.

References

  • Blackwood JA, Dilley DC, Roberts MW, et al. Evaluation of pumice, fissure enameloplasty and air abrasion on sealant microleakage. Pediatr Dent. 2002 May-Jun;24(3):199-203.
  • Blanco-Davila F. Beauty and the body: the origins of cosmetics. Plast Reconstr Surg. 2000 Mar;105(3):1196-204.
  • Chen JK, Chen TT. Chinese Medical Herbology and Pharmacology. City of Industry, CA: Art of Medicine Press, 2003, p. 712.
  • Giampaolo ET, Machado AL, Pavarina AC, et al. Different methods of finishing and polishing enamel. J Prosthet Dent. 2003 Feb;89(2):135-40.
  • Price RB, Loney RW, Doyle MG, et al. An evaluation of a technique to remove stains from teeth using microabrasion. J Am Dent Assoc. 2003 Aug;134(8):1066-71.

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