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Short Communication Multani Mitti -Is it more than a placebo?

Authors:
  • Saham Hospital

Abstract

“Multani mitti” or Fuller’s earth is a popular substance as home remedy in south Asia. It has been traditionally used as a cleanser for skin and hair in this part of the world for centuries. Though Fuller’s earth as name suggests was used for cleaning wool in Europe, and in modern times is used to bleach oils or drill mud, as adsorbent and even in film industry to form dust clouds or as mud bath. People in south Asia, particulary India, Pakistan and Nepal use Multani mitti in daily life as face packs for enhancing their beauty or to cleanse hair. Often dermatology patients seek advice on using this readily available substance, in this scenario it is pertinent for clinicians to be aware of pros and cons of usage of Multani mitti.
Journal of Pakistan Association of Dermatologists. 2018; 29(3): 345-348.
345
Short Communication
Multani Mitti Is it
more than a placebo?
“Multani mitti” or Fuller’s earth is a popular
substance as home remedy in South Asia. It has
been traditionally used as a cleanser for skin and
hair in this part of the world for centuries.
Though Fuller’s earth was used for cleaning
wool in Europe, and in modern times is used to
bleach oils or drill mud, as adsorbent and even
in film industry to form dust clouds or as mud
bath. People in South Asia, particulary India,
Pakistan and Nepal use Multani mitti in daily
life as face packs for enhancing their beauty or
to cleanse hair. Often dermatology patients seek
advice on using this readily available substance,
in this scenario it is pertinent for clinicians to be
aware of pros and cons of usage of Multani
mitti.
Multani mitti is a popular home remedy
amongst South Asians, either as cosmetic or in
herbal products. Dermatologists frequently hear
patients narrating their experience about natural/
herbal therapies for their ailments including
“Multani mitti”. Multani mitti has been in
existence in Asian homes for centuries, however
first documentation of its use was made only
during colonial rule.1
Majority of patients attending dermatology
clinics in South Asian have used Multani mitti, a
parting question “can I continue using Multani
mitti on my skin” or “will it cause any harm if I
use it?” leaves the treating physician unsure
about how to address this query. We, therefore
have explored this ubiquitous substance in
detail, analyse implications of its use in
dermatologic practice.
Multani mitti or Fuller's earth is any clay
material that has the capability to decolourize oil
or liquids without chemical treatment.2,3 It is an
adsorbent clay consisting essentially of calcium
montmorillonite. Montmorillonite is an
aluminium silicate of approximate formula
(Al,Fe,Mg)4Si8O20(0H)4, in which the relative
amounts of Al, Fe, and Mg are not fixed. It
should be distinguished from sodium
montmorillonite, often known as bentonite.4
"Activated" Fuller's earth is obtained by
chemical treatment. In addition to calcium
montmorillonite, Fuller's earth contains small
amounts of natural impurities, namely, calcite,
feldspar, zinc blend, apatite, limonite, and rarely
quartz. The earth when quarried is a grey, soap-
like substance and; is basically crystalline.
Electron microscope studies have shown these
crystals to be very small, approximately
0.4x0.004 microns. Despite this basic crystalline
structure the powder behaves as though it were
amorphous. Its high adsorptive, base exchange,
and bonding properties give it, its importance as
an industrial substance.4 Ancient Greeks and
Romans knew Fuller's earth as bleach and as a
primitive soap. By the middle ages it was mainly
used for scouring raw wool, for removing
surplus dye from cloth, and finishing and
thickening ("fulling") woolen cloth. It was at
one time such a mainstay of the British woolen
industry that smuggling it out of the country was
a serious offence. It has also been used as a base
for cosmetics, powders (e.g., baby/ napkin/ toilet
powder) etc., currently its main uses are in
industrial processes, such as refining lubricating
oils, edible oils and technical oils. It is also used
for bonding foundry moulding sand and for oil-
well drilling.4
Journal of Pakistan Association of Dermatologists. 2018; 29(3): 345-348.
346
Etymology
Multani mitti is a clay which gets its name from
a town Multan (in pre-partitioned India), now
in Pakistan. Referred to as “Fuller’s earth”, in
the west, derives the name from cleaning
process of wool; which involved rubbing it on
wool and then washing it off thus the dirt and
grease would be removed and wool appeared
fuller or fluffy.
Chemical Properties
Multani mitti is essentially a clay consisting of
Aluminium Silicate with other impurities in
minimal proportions. Not much mention is made
of its composition in Indian literature as opposed
to the west. The composition may vary
according to the area from where it is mined.
Earliest reference from India was made about
Jodhpur (Kapurdi) clay1consisting of :
SiO2 47%
Al2O3 23.3%
Fe2O3 6.95%
CaO 2.9%
MgO traces
Multani mitti is a non-plastic clay with enough
of water content. Among the properties formerly
attributed to fuller’s earth are non-plasticity,
disintegrating in water, detergent action, large
water content, and the property of adhering to
tongue. Fuller’s earth, as a rule, is lighter and
more porous than other clays.5
Usage
Multani mitti was traditionally used for cleaning
wool when it was referred to as fuller’s earth in
the west. Used as a cleanser for face or hair in
India, it is popular as a material for baths among
mud bath enthusiasts in USA, ironically mud
baths have never been popular among Asians,
though this clay has been around forever.
Fuller’s earth was used in the laboratory to
detect the addition of certain colouring matters
to butter, whiskey, and artificial vinegar. In
pharmacy it makes an excellent substitute for
talcum powder, on account of its absorptive
power. It was used as poultice for swellings,
ulcers and sores.5
The major use of Fullers earth are in drilling
mud, foundry-sand bond, binder for pelletizing
iron ore. The minor uses include carrier for
insecticides and fertilizers, filler in paint,
adhesive and pharmaceutical products, binder
for animal feed, sealant for waterproofing
reservoirs and canals. It is used as soil liner for
water treatment in Texas to contain
petrochemical waste dumps and treating
industrial ponds. It is also used with
polyacrylamide to make paper.2
Mulani mitti may be used to treat paraquat
poisoning.6 It is used by military and civil
service personnel to decontaminate clothing and
equipment of responders who have been
contaminated with chemical agents.7 Cat litter is
cleaned using fuller’s earth. In the film industry
Fuller’s earth has been extensively for special
effects, pyrotechnics explosions, making dust
clouds because it spreads farther and higher than
most natural soils, resulting in a blast that looks
larger. Film set dressers use it to convert paved
streets into dirt roads, also to create dust trailing
from a moving vehicle on a road.7
Oil drilling, bleaching of oils are some other
uses where Multani mitti is employed, it is dug
out from mines in the United states of America
(USA) and England for industrial uses.2 Among
cosmetic uses it was used in Asia alone and is
still in practice though no scientific evidence of
therapeutic effects support these claims. Due to
its excellent adsorbing quality it may be argued
that Multani mitti helps to remove oil/ sebum
from the face or hair. It is used to bleach edible
Journal of Pakistan Association of Dermatologists. 2018; 29(3): 345-348.
347
oils, this property may be have been unwittingly
used at least theoretically, to bleach the skin. It
is reportedly consumed by pregnant women in
Pakistan.8 Geophagy is an accepted social evil in
several countries. It is related to nutritional
deficiency which prompts them to eat mud, also
sold commercially in many countries.9,10 Multani
mitti has also been traditionally used on Taj
Mahal to maintain the shine on the marble.11
Several mud packs are marketed as face wash in
cosmetics industry. Pharmacological journals
from India have published few papers on
experimenting various ratios of Multani mitti for
face wash/ face packs.12,13 Nonetheless there is
not a single publication on use or effects or
adverse effects of this clay, they all just go
ahead on the presumption that it is indeed
scientifically therapeutic, playing to commercial
audience.
Conclusion
After browsing literature on Multani mitti it
would be alright to conclude that this clay seems
to give a sense of satisfaction and that is the only
effect it seems to have on its users. In the
absence of scientific scrutiny on its use, effects
or adverse effects it can be opined that Multani
mitti has no role as a therapy in dermatology.
Therefore we can safely convey that there is no
scientific evidence of its efficacy whatsoever,
and public may use it on their own discretion if
they may want. This corollary acquires special
importance in the era when every yes or no from
medics may be subjected to close legal scrutiny.
References
1. Bhola, K. L."Fuller's Earth in India".
Transactions of the Indian Ceramic Society.
1946; 5(3): 104124.
doi:10.1080/0371750x.1946.10877805
2. Hosterman, John W.,Sam H. Patterson.
"Bentonite and Fuller's Earth Resources of
the United States" In Earth resources of
United States. U.S. Geological Survey
Professional Paper 1522. United States
government printing office, Washington;
1992. P3-5.
3. Lotha, Gloria. "Fuller's earth".
Encyclopædia Britannica. Encyclopædia
Britannica Online. (13 September 2007)
Retrieved 09 March 2019.
4. A Sakula. Pneumoconiosis. Thorax 1961.16;
176-79.
5. Charles L. Parsons. Fuller’s Earth. Deptt of
Interior, Bureau of mines. First edition,
Washington, Govt printing press, 1913; p. 6-
12.
6. Revkin, A. C."Paraquat: A potent weed
killer is killing people". Science
Digest.1983; 91 (6): 3638.
7. Fuller’s Earth. From Wikipedia.org
available online at
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Fuller's_earth.
Accessed on 08/03/2019.
8. Khairunisa Nizam Memon. Craving for
fuller’s earth during pregnancy. rcog2016.09
poster. Available at
https://www.epostersonline.com/rcog2016/node/9
67.
9. http://www.bbc.com/future/story/20160615-
the-people-who-cant-stop-eating-dirt.
Accessed on 08/03/2019.
10. Ziegler, J. L. (1997), Editorial: Geophagy: a
vestige of palaeonutrition?. Tropical
Medicine & International Health, 2: 609-
611. doi:10.1046/j.1365-3156.1997.d01-
359.x
11. "Taj Mahal to undergo mud pack therapy".
Times of India. 11 May 2015. Retrieved
08/03/2019.
https://timesofindia.indiatimes.com/good-
governance/uttar-pradesh/Taj-Mahal-to-
undergo-mud-pack-
therapy/articleshow/47232524.cms?
12. Pareek A, Jain V, Ratan Y et al.
Mushrooming of Herbals in in new
emerging markets of cosmeceuticals. Int J of
Advan resear Pharm boil sci. 2012. 2(4);
473-80.
13. RS Pal, Y Pal & P Wal. In-House
Preparation and Standardization of Herbal
Face Pack. The Open Dermatology journal.
2017. 11; 72-80.
Journal of Pakistan Association of Dermatologists. 2018; 29(3): 345-348.
348
Address for correspondence
Pramod Kumar
Department of Dermatology & G.U.M., Liwa Health
Centre, Ministry of Health, Sultanate of Oman,
PO Box 582, PC-319.
Ph: 26850026
Email : kumarpramod5@rediff.com
... and Bentonite [22] Reduce absorption [19][20][21][22] Rhubarb [23] Eliminate and reduced absorption of paraquat [23] Immunosuppressive (cyclophosphamide and corticosteroids) [19] Vitamins C, E and N-acetylcysteine [19] Naringin, Edaravone, Quercetin [19] Lysine acetylsalicylate (a salt of aspirin) [19] Anti-C5a antibodies such as IFX-1 [24] Type III procollagen peptide [25] Rapamycin [26] Procyanidin B2 [27] Doxycycline [28] Rosiglitazone [29] Silymarin [30] ω-3 fish oil emulsion [31] Ambroxol [32] Atorvastatin [33] Alpha lipoic acid [34] Sodium tauroursodeoxycholate [35] 1-methylhydantoin (MH) [36] Metformin [37] Anti-inflammatory and anti-oxidative properties [19,[24][25][26][27][28][29][30][31][32][33][34][35][36][37][38][39][40]: Medicines [19,[24][25][26][27][28][29][30][31][32][33][34][35][36][37] Herbal treatment and traditional Chinese medicine [38][39][40] Xuebijing injection [38] Danshen injection [38] Rheum officinale Baill [38] Rehmannia glutinosa [39] Monoammonium glycyrrhizinate [40] Dandelion [40] Procedures Extracorporeal removal techniques (even in unknown hepatitis viral marker status) [41][42][43][44] Hemodialysis Hemoperfusion, charcoal hemoperfusion, and resin hemoperfusion Hemodiafiltration and continuous venovenous hemofiltration Blood purification Surgical procedures [45][46][47] Interventional strategy for pulmonary salvage such as one-lung circumvention Lung transplantation with or without extracorporeal membrane oxygenation Other procedures [19,48,49] Lung radiotherapy Mesenchymal stem cells Whole lung lavage therapy ...
... and Bentonite [22] Reduce absorption [19][20][21][22] Rhubarb [23] Eliminate and reduced absorption of paraquat [23] Immunosuppressive (cyclophosphamide and corticosteroids) [19] Vitamins C, E and N-acetylcysteine [19] Naringin, Edaravone, Quercetin [19] Lysine acetylsalicylate (a salt of aspirin) [19] Anti-C5a antibodies such as IFX-1 [24] Type III procollagen peptide [25] Rapamycin [26] Procyanidin B2 [27] Doxycycline [28] Rosiglitazone [29] Silymarin [30] ω-3 fish oil emulsion [31] Ambroxol [32] Atorvastatin [33] Alpha lipoic acid [34] Sodium tauroursodeoxycholate [35] 1-methylhydantoin (MH) [36] Metformin [37] Anti-inflammatory and anti-oxidative properties [19,[24][25][26][27][28][29][30][31][32][33][34][35][36][37][38][39][40]: Medicines [19,[24][25][26][27][28][29][30][31][32][33][34][35][36][37] Herbal treatment and traditional Chinese medicine [38][39][40] Xuebijing injection [38] Danshen injection [38] Rheum officinale Baill [38] Rehmannia glutinosa [39] Monoammonium glycyrrhizinate [40] Dandelion [40] Procedures Extracorporeal removal techniques (even in unknown hepatitis viral marker status) [41][42][43][44] Hemodialysis Hemoperfusion, charcoal hemoperfusion, and resin hemoperfusion Hemodiafiltration and continuous venovenous hemofiltration Blood purification Surgical procedures [45][46][47] Interventional strategy for pulmonary salvage such as one-lung circumvention Lung transplantation with or without extracorporeal membrane oxygenation Other procedures [19,48,49] Lung radiotherapy Mesenchymal stem cells Whole lung lavage therapy ...
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Background Traditional medicinal systems are widely practiced in the Indian subcontinent for a wide variety of diseases. We aimed to identify the various home remedies used by people to treat numerous pediatric dermatoses. Material and Methods It was an observational study carried out over 18 months in which 150 children attending our clinics were recruited. A detailed history regarding the various indigenous preparations used was taken from caregivers and noted in a proforma. Results A total of 150 children (M:F‐89:61) aged between 4 months to 18 years were included. Atopic dermatitis and eczema (n=28) were the most common dermatoses whereas the most common home remedies used for these either solo or in combination were coconut oil (13), olive oil (11), mustard oil (7), aloevera gel (6), ghee (6), curd (4) and honey (2). Acne was the second most common dermatoses (n=22), products used for acne were Fuller’s earth, aloevera gel, turmeric, gram flour, mustard oil, lime and sandalwood paste. Other dermatoses treated by indigenous products included impetigo and other bacterial infections, seborrheic dermatitis, dermatophytoses, verruca, molluscum, hypopigmentary disorders etc. Conclusion In Indian setup, home remedies are commonly used by the caregivers before visiting a dermatologist to treat various pediatric dermatoses. This article is protected by copyright. All rights reserved.
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From last few decades field of herbal cosmetic users and uses, immensely increasing with increased population. There is every to believe that the cosmetic and toilet industry will flourish. These herbs may be used to effect in their crude form or they may be extracted purified or derivative to render them more suitable for use on cosmetic. This review may guide new researchers and persons in understanding the concept of new cosmetic market, beside this it also attract their attention towards further research in herbal cosmetics.
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Texto en alemán, español, frances e inglés Reimpresión en 1989 de la edición de 1987
In Earth resources of United States. U.S. Geological Survey Professional Paper 1522. United States government printing office
  • John W Hosterman
  • H Sam
  • Patterson
Hosterman, John W.,Sam H. Patterson. "Bentonite and Fuller's Earth Resources of the United States" In Earth resources of United States. U.S. Geological Survey Professional Paper 1522. United States government printing office, Washington; 1992. P3-5.
Fuller's Earth. Deptt of Interior, Bureau of mines
  • Charles L Parsons
Charles L. Parsons. Fuller's Earth. Deptt of Interior, Bureau of mines. First edition, Washington, Govt printing press, 1913; p. 6-12.
Paraquat: A potent weed killer is killing people
  • A C Revkin
Revkin, A. C."Paraquat: A potent weed killer is killing people". Science Digest.1983; 91 (6): 36-38.
Craving for fuller's earth during pregnancy. rcog2016.09 poster
  • Khairunisa Nizam Memon
Khairunisa Nizam Memon. Craving for fuller's earth during pregnancy. rcog2016.09 poster. Available at https://www.epostersonline.com/rcog2016/node/9 67.
Taj Mahal to undergo mud pack therapy". Times of India
  • J L Ziegler
Ziegler, J. L. (1997), Editorial: Geophagy: a vestige of palaeonutrition?. Tropical Medicine & International Health, 2: 609-611. doi:10.1046/j.1365-3156.1997.d01-359.x 11. "Taj Mahal to undergo mud pack therapy". Times of India. 11 May 2015. Retrieved 08/03/2019. https://timesofindia.indiatimes.com/goodgovernance/uttar-pradesh/Taj-Mahal-toundergo-mud-packtherapy/articleshow/47232524.cms?