Glauber’s Salt (Mang Xiao)

anhydrous sodium sulfateGlauber’s salt is one of typical purgatives frequently used in traditional Chinese medicine. It was first recorded in Ming Yi Bie Lu (Miscellaneous Records of Famous Physicians), which was compiled by Tao Hong-Jing. It is also known as Mang Xiao in Pinyin, which, literally translated, means “wheat awn saltpetre” or “wheat awn vanish”. Accordingly, the reason for this name is twofold: it looks like the awn of wheat, plus it is soluble in water and disappears once dropped in the water. Clinically it is often used to treat bloating, abdominal pain, constipation, and others due to excess heat. And it is also good at curing sore throat, mouth sores, red eyes, ulcerative carbuncle, swelling, pain, and so on. In addition, it is also suitable for external use in the treatment of a variety of other ailments.

What is glauber’s salt?

It refers to the refined crystals from the natural mineral containing sodium sulfate. It mainly contains sodium sulfate decahydrate (Na2SO4•10H2O). As a result, other names of this mineral medicine include mirabilite, Natrii Sulfas, sodium sulfate decahydrate, Sodium Sulfate, and so on. In China it is mainly produced in Hebei, Henan, Shandong, Jiangsu, Anhui and other places.

According to different processing steps, it is called by different names. First, dissolve the natural mineral in hot water, filter, cool down, and then crystallize. This product is called Pi Xiao. Secondarily, clean and slice the radish, place them and Pi Xiao into the pot, add water and boil, take the liquid in the upper layer, cool down, and crystallize. The crystal obtained is glaubers salt. The preferred one is bluish-white, transparent, in the shape of block crystal, clean and free of impurities. Thirdly, glauber salts lose the crystal water by weathering and turn into the white powder, which is known as anhydrous sodium sulfate (Xuan Ming Fen).

It is prismatic, rectangular, or irregular lumps and granular. It is colorless or white translucent. And it is brittle, fragile, and with shiny glass-like section. Besides, it is odorless and salty.

It contains sodium sulfate, a small amount of sodium chloride, magnesium sulfate, calcium sulfate, and other inorganic salt.

Glauber’s salt health benefits

According to reports, glauber’s salt-based formulas can be used to treat a variety of diseases. For example, the total effective rate was 79% in the treatment of 117 cases of Kashin-Beck disease by taking it by orally, twice a day, 2 to 4 grams each time in adult (1); Jin Bo Xiao Shi San, composed of 100g mirabilite, 100g Hai Jin Sha (Lygodium japonicum), 40g Hu Po (Amber), and 20g Peng Sha (sodium borate), is a good cure for urolithic stranguria (2); it is also used to treat mumps, ascariasis, intractable pruritus, and so on.

Modern pharmacological actions of mirabilite

The sulphate ions of sodium sulfate cannot be easily absorbed by intestinal wall, which thus stay in intestines and form a hypertonic solution. This solution can prevent the intestinal absorption of water, increase the intestinal volume, cause mechanical irritation, promote peristalsis, and finally cause diarrhea.

Selected glauber salt herbal remedies

According to the Chinese Pharmacopoeia, it is salty and bitter in flavor and cold in nature. And it goes to stomach and large intestine. Basic functions are purgating heat and bowels, moistening dryness, softening hard mass and clearing heat for detumescence. Essential indications include excess-heat causing constipation, dry feces, abdominal pain due to indigestion, swelling and pain in appendicitis, and externally for mastitis and painful swollen hemorrhoids. Recommended dosage is from 6 to 12 grams. And generally it is not used as decoction. Instead it is highly recommended to dissolve it in the decoction after it is done.

1. Da Cheng Qi Tang and Tiao Wei Cheng Qi Tang from Shang Han Lun (On Cold Damage). It is mainly formulated with Da Huang (Rhubarb) to enhance the laxative effect. And in recent years it is also frequently used for abdominal pain and constipation in cholelithiasis patients.

2. Bing Peng San from Wai Ke Zheng Zong (Orthodox Exogenous Illnesses). It is combined with sodium borate, Bing Pian (Borneol), and Zhu Sha (Cinnabar) to cure sore throat and mouth sores.

Glauber’s salt side effects and contraindications

Given the cold nature of glauber’s salt, it should not be used for pregnant women and people who are with deficiency-cold in spleen and stomach. And Ben Cao Jing Ji Zhu (Explanation of Canon of Materia Medica) says that Shi Wei (pyrrosia lingua) can bring out its best but Mai Ju Jiang (carpesium abrotanoides) can restrain its efficacy.


(1). Gan Su Wei Sheng Tong Xun (Gansu health communications), 1972;4:23;
(2). The secret effective recipe selection of first batch of national famous old TCM doctors • International Culture Publishing House, 1996,456).

9 thoughts on “Glauber’s Salt (Mang Xiao)

  1. young

    AWESOME information, I am from the caribbean where glauber salts is common. Recently I had a mixture of the above mentioned and apple cider vinegar. Works great as a detox and antiinflammatory.

  2. Maria Polmeer

    I live in Australia. Have used it with great success to reduce excess acidity causing rheumatism. In the days when we could buy it in doses wrapped in paper one a day for one week brought the PH balance to normal. These days, I use the amount to cover little fingernail once daily in hot drink to dissolve calcified lumps on joints. Take for one week only.

    1. Diane

      Hi Maria, I am interested in the product but wonder where you would be able to purchase it and what name is it under. I suffer with rheumatism so badly I am on Morphine patches, if I could find something less intrusive I would be happy about it. I thank you for any information you can give me.

      1. Melinda Rhodes

        This message is nearly three years old. I recently found Glauber salt food grade and would be happy to provide you with the information if you are still in need.

        1. Marjorie Curtiss

          Hi Melinda!
          I would be very grateful to have more information on the Glauber salt.
          Marjorie Curtiss
          I am on Facebook.
          Thank you so much!

  3. saturnino tumulak

    i have read many times about the beneficial effects of this mineral. My only aprehention is what if the product is a sythetic one.? will it be effective like the natural occurring mineral?

  4. Trish gleeson

    I sent a recipe containing Glauber”s Salt to my mother when I was in England as far back as 1980. She was suffering from rheumatoid arthritis and could not move around very much. After taking the dose (and instead of one teaspoon first thing in the morning she took one tablespoon) – my mother could get in and out of the bath. She did peel about 4 layers of skin off her body though.
    I would like to get some in Tasmania but cannot find anyone who supplies it as I have arthritis in my fingers now


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