Hahnemann’s proving symptoms of homeopathy remedy Spongia from Materia Medica Pura, which Samuel Hahnemann wrote between 1811 to 1821…

(Roasted Sponge)

(From vol. vi, 2nd edit., 1827.)

(The bath sponge – the habitation of the animal of the Spongia officinalis,. – is cut into pieces of moderate size and roasted in a tin-plate coffee-roaster, turned round over glowing charcoal until it becomes brown, and can without much labour be triturated to a powder. Of this 20 grains are added to 400 drops of good alcohol, shaken twice a day and allowed to macerate for a week without warmth. Thus a tincture is made which contains a grain of roasted sponge-power in every 20 drops.)

Sponge burnt to black coal (spongia usta, combusta) as it is not seldom prepared, seems to be less powerful. On the other hands, if only roasted brown in the manner described above, it is very odorous, and communicates all its great medicinal powers to the alcohol. If the tincture be dropped into water a milkiness is produced, yet a good deal of it is retained in solution. The sponge is said to contain some iodine.

That remarkable swelling of the thyroid gland of the neck called goitre, which is peculiar to the inhabitants of deep valleys and their termination in plains, which arises from a concurrence of apparently tolerably identical causes, though most of these are unknown to us, constitutes a malady which us almost always uniform in its nature, for which a medicine, if it has in one case been proved servicable, must be so always and in every case (specific).

But the ordinary medical school did not know how to obtain a knowledge of medicines a priori, before their administration in diseases, and knew not for what morbid states they would and must be curative, and consequently to prescribed them in a blind sort of way in diseases, several medicines at once, always in mixtures. Hence the ordinary schoonl was unable to discover any certain remedies for chronic ailments, not even for diseases that always remained the same. Hence common folk had to look to themselves for help, but this they could only obtain in the slowest an most tedious way in the world, namely, by incessantly trying all sorts of simple substances which chance offered them, whereby after some millions of fruitless trials at last a remedy came into their hands, which having once been of use, must assuredly be always servicable in diseases of fixed character and identical nature. Thus medicine has, to thank this thorough trial by the common folk of all conceivable medicinal substances, for the few surely curative drugs for such diseases as are always the same, that is, arising from identical causes and hence of fixed character. The ancient medical school that thinks itself so wise could not do this for itself, as we see.

In this way thousands of years might have elapsed ere the ordinary domestic medical practice, after unnumerable trials of drugs, at length lighted upon roasted sponge as the remedy for this troublesome ailment, the goitre, and found it to be a specific for the disease. At all events, we find it first mentioned a specific for goitre in the thirteenth century by ARNOLD VON VILLANOVA.

The medical art then reaped where it had not sowed, and appropriated this discovery of common folk. But as it has even held simplicity to be dishonourable, it mixed the roasted sponge when employing it as a remedy for goitre with a number of other substances, (in the Pharmacopoeia Angustana, for example, ten other ingredients are added and so the actual efficaciuos remedy, the Spongia usta, deteriorated.) always varying them, in order as if declared in its learned way, to act as adjuvants to the sponge, but in reality this only spoilt its action. The mixture, on account of these perturbing additions, often proved useless, or if it still did good, then in course of time the good effects were ascribed by subsequent practitioners to the auxillary ingredients, so that at length it was not known which was the efficacious ingredient in the prescription. Thus roasted sponge, owing to this quackish but learned addition of other drugs, gradually lost its reputation, and, indeed, sometimes disappeared altogether from the goitre-remedy (As for example in KLEIN’S Selectus Medicaminum, p. 138, compared with p. 183.) (pulvis ad strumas), so that at length roasted sponge was dropped out of many modern works on materia medica as a useless thing. So the distinguished medical school, by means of its learned mixture-art, succeeded once more in destroying and burying in oblivion a truth which the unsophisticated experience of the common folk had discovered by an infinity of tedious trials carried on during thousands of years. This is a little specimen of the benefits which have been bestowed on the human race by the ordinary medical art.

But granting that practitioners of the ordinary stamp knew the original value of roasted sponge in the treatment of the goitre of residents in valleys, how can they apply the other great curative virtues of this medicinal substance in many other morbid states that do not occur in a uniform manner, when they do not know or scorn to follow the only sure way to discover the pure powers of drugs, experimentation on the healthy?

The following symptoms of roasted sponge observed on healthy persons (I would they were three times as numerous) will teach us what further medicinal use this drug, as powerful as it is useful, can be applied to by the homoeopathic healing art.

Where the ordinary practitioner still employed roasted sponge for the cure of goitre he gave it in doses of half to a whole drachm daily, mixed with pepper, lamp-black &c. On the other hand, I found one or two doses of the smallest portion of a drop of the tincture several times diluted quite sufficient for curative objects, I found a still farther dilution of a drops of the decillion-fold dilution-fold dilution for a dose.

The most powerful antidote of roasted sponge is camphor.

Homoeopathy has found the most remarkable remedial employment of roasted sponge in that frightfully acute disease membranous croup, guided there to partly by other symptoms 231. The local inflammation, however, should first be diminished or removed by the exhibition of an extremely small dose of aconite. (The smaller the drug-doses in acute and the most acute diseases, the more quickly do they effect their action. In the case above alluded to one single olfaction of a globule the size of a mustard-seed moistened with the thirtieth dilution of itc-juice, fulfils this object in the best complete manner.) The accessory administration of a small dose of hepar sulphuris will seldom be found necessary.


No old-school authorities are referred to.

The 1st edit. has 316 symptoms, the 2nd edit, 391.]


Vertigo when sitting, as if the head would sink to the side, with hot feeling in the head (aft. ¼ h.). [Wr.]

Vertigo, inclining to fall backwards. [Fr.H-n.]

He has whirling in the head, he staggers and must support himself by something, as in intoxication (aft. ½ h.). [Htn.]

Violent rush of blood to the brain, with heat outwardly on the forehead; the cervical arteries beat perceptibly (aft. 1 h.). [Wr.]

5. Increased afflux of blood to the head.

In the forehead sensation of accumulation of blood.

Weakness of the head and an obtuseness that makes him unfit for all mental work, with a sensation of weariness through the whole body.

The head is confused and stupid.

Confusion of the head; he staggers like a person when walking, for an hour (aft. ½ h.). [Hnl.]

10. Heaviness of the head all day.

When she lays down her head on the table before her in order to rest and then lifts it up again, she feels it heavy.

Painful heaviness ion the occiput, as if lead lay in it, whilst walking, which is repeated in jerks (aft. 1.1/2 h.). [Htn.]

Heaviness of the head (aft. ¼ h.). [Wr.]

Heaviness and fulness of the head, increased by stooping. [Wr.]

15. Aching pain in the crown (aft. 5 h.). [Fr.H-n.]

Obtuse pressive pains from within outwards in the right frontal protuberance (aft. 30 h.). [Htn.]

Dull headache in the right half of the br, on coming from the open air into the warm room (aft. 1.1/2, 35 h.). [Gn.]

Pressive pain out at the right parietal bone, when lying. [Gn.]

Dull pressive pain from the front, in the forehead above the eyes, to the occiput and nape, for ten hours, until he goes to sleep (aft. 3 h.). [Wr.]

20. Violent tearing pain in the left temple, close to the orbit, which also sets up a pressive sensation in the left half of that eye (aft. 2 h.). [Hbg.]

Aching pain in the forehead (aft. ¼ h.). [Ws.]

Out-pressive sensation in the right temple (aft. 1.1/4 h.). [Htn.]

Sensation in the head as if all would come out at the forehead.

Violent pressing pain in the left side of the occiput, as if the head would burst there (aft. 9.1/2 h.). [Htn.]

25. Jerking through both sides of the head, especially at the temples up into the top of the head when he moves his arms and at every step (aft. 1 h.). [Ws.]

On the whole side on which the (small) goitre is, a jerking pain; in the head a beating which descends into the cheeks and spreads into the neck as a tearing. [Stf.]

Twitching stitches in the forehead, increased by walking (aft. 5 h.). [Wr.]

Pressive down-drawing pain on the right side of the head and neck (aft. 4 h.). [Wr.]

Violent pressure in the forehead and occiput simultaneously as if the two were pressed together towards one another, at noon (aft. 5 h.).

30. Aching pain over the right eye rather externally (aft. ½ h.).

Aching pricking at one time he moves, with burning hot sensation spreading from the region behind the ear over the occiput to the nape. [Wr.]

Needle-pricks going transversely across on the left side of the forehead (aft. 4 h.). [Lr.]

When walking in the open air boring needle-pricks on the left side of the forehead as from within outwards (aft. 34 h.). [Lr.]

Beating in the left temple.

35. When lying she feels in her head, in the region of the ear, on which she is lying in bed, a noise like a strong pulsation, each time with a double beat; of she lies round on the other ear, she feels it on that side.

Sharp stitches on the left temple externally, extending into the forehead (aft. 6, 14 h.). [Lr.]

Pressure on the left side of the forehead (aft. 8.1/2 h.). [Lr.]

Sharp external pressure on both temples (aft. ¼ h.). [Ws.]

An out-pressing pain on the top of the left side of the forehead, when sitting, which went off after standing up (aft. 6.1/2 h.). [Lr.]

40. Drawing pain in the crown of the head (immediately).

Gnawing pain externally on the upper part of the head (aft. 1 h.). [Ws.]

Disagreeable sensitiveness of the integuments of the head, especially on moving the scalp (aft. ¼ h.). [Ws.]

Burning in the scalp on the right side (aft. 15 h.). [Gn.]

Feeling as if the hairs on the crown stood on end, or as if someone moved them, most severe at any movement of the body (aft. 1 h.). [Ws.]

45. Tensive contractive sensation above the root of the nose (aft. 11.1/2 h.). [Htn.]

A yellow scabby eruption on the left superciliary ridge, where it is only somewhat painful when touched. [Fr.H-n.]

The eyes have a dull look and the eyelids are swollen as after intoxication, or as if he had been reveling all night; at the same time exhausted, tried and sleepy (aft. 3.1/4 h.). [Htn.]

Sudden shooting drawing in the outer angle of the left orbit which spreads upwards and downwards round the eye to the inner angle (aft. 1.1/2 h.). [Ws.]

Tensive shooting pain in the left outer canthus of the eye, worst on moving the yes; it went off when touched (aft. 4.1/4 h.). [Gn.]

50. Pricking itching under the left eye which is somewhat relieved by rubbing (aft. 5 h.). [Ws.]

Aching round beneath the eyelids.

Itching on the eyelids.

In the morning in bed the lids of the left eye are closed so that she can only open them with difficulty.

Heaviness of the eyelids. [Wr.]

55. Pressive heaviness in the eyelids, just as if they would close (aft. ¼ h.). [Wr.]

Tension in the left eye, near the temple (aft. ¼ h.).

In both eyes shooting and at last aching pain, in the evening (aft. 9 h.). [Wr.]

Aching and shooting in the right eye. [Fr.H-n.]

Burning in the left eye round about the eyeball.

60. Shooting in the eye.

The eyes suppurate.

The eyes are deeply sunk.

Burning pain on the outer surface of the left lower lid. [Gn.]

Redness of the white of the eye. [Fr.H-n.]

65. Great watering of the eye. [Fr.H-n.]

When she looks fixedly at a point, there occur headache and weeping of the eyes.

She can only make out distant objects by a great effort.

Severe heat of one side of the face, which is renewed even by merely thinking of it.

He has red cheeks and yet only the usual warmth in the face. [Htn.]

70. Dull ringing in the ears (aft. ½ h.). [Wr.]

Ringing in the right ear (aft. 10 h.). [Lr.]

Red swelling of the anterior convolution of the right auricle, with a pimple in it, which discharged like an ulcer for nine days; the ear was painful when pressed from without (aft. 24 h.).

In the left auricle, close to the entrance to the meatus auditorious, an inflamed lump, which later on was covered by a scab, remaining for several days painful to touch. [Hnl.]

75. Formation of boils on the left ear which are painful when touched (aft. 1 h.). [Ln.]

Burning in the orifice of the right ear. [Gn.]

Pain in the ear-cartilages per se like soreness – not altered by touching (aft. ¼ h.). [Ws.]

Tensive pain in the swelling at the orifice of the meatus auditories and formication therein, as if it would become an ulcer; sometimes stitches in it (aft. 15.1/2 h.). [Hnl.]

Fine pricks in the right ear towards the outside, as if through the membrana tympani (immediately). [Ws.]

80. Pressure in the ears and forcing in them.

Earache – a contractive pain (aft. 3 h.).

Drawing pain in the interior of the right ear (aft. 9 h.). [Wr.]

Cramp-like pain in the left ear when walking in the open air (aft. 24.1/2 h.). [Htn.]

Hardness of hearing.

85. Formicating pricks in the left nasal bone (aft. ½ h.). [Ws.]

Tearing in the nose.

(Stoppage of the nose mucus.)

Eruption on the tip of the nose and on the lips.

During dinner, after gently blowing the nose, a violent and long-continued epistaxis (aft. 3 d.). [Hnl.]

90. Aching tearing sensation in the right zygomatic arch (aft. ¼ h.). [Htn.]

Itching on the left cheek (aft. ½ h.).

Pricking itching in the left cheek (aft. ¾ h.).

Shooting on the cheek.

Swelling of the cheek.

95. Cramp-like pang from the left maxillary joint down along the cheek, in the evening when eating (aft. five days).

Twitching prick posteriorly from the right upper jaw into the right inner ear, in the evening in bed. [Hnl.]

Cramp-like pain on the left upper jaw (aft. 1.1/2 h.). [Lr.]

On the left upper jaw needle-pricks darting across (aft. 2.3/4, 3.1/2 h.). [Lr.]

The lower jaw is painful when touched.

100. Fine pricks under the lower lip (aft. 7 h.). [Ws.]

Constant violent burning under the right commissure of the mouth, on the chin, as if an eruption were about to come there; on stretching the skin it becomes more violent (aft. 6 h.). [Hnl.]

The left side of the chin is painful to touch, extending to the oral commissure, as if festering (aft. 4 h.). [Ws.]

Sensation as if the cervical glands were swollen (aft. 14 h.).

Pain as if the cervical glands near the larynx and trachea were swollen (aft. 3 h.).

105. Several glandular swellings under the right side of the lower jaw, which interfere with the movement of the neck and have a tensive pain when touched (aft. 38 h.). [Lr.]

Glandular swellings under the left side of the lower jaw, which are painful on touching the neck (aft. 73 h.). [Lr.]

Sensation in the thyroid gland and the cervical glands, on taking breath as if air in them rushed up and down.

In the goitre shooting pain on swallowing, when not swallowing slight pain. [Stf.]

In the goitre, stitches also when not swallowing. [Stf.]

110. Pressive sensation in the goitre, several times daily.

Externally over the pit of the throat constant needle-pricks (in the lower part of the goitre).

Several large pimples under the chin on the neck, which are painful when pressed on (aft. 12 h.).

Stiffness of the neck when bowing and tthe head. [Ln.]

Intermittent, slow pressure on the right side of the neck, as if the skin were compressed between the fingers, the part down the jugular vein was also outwardly painful when touched. [Hbg.]

115. Painful pressure over the thyroid cartilage increased by touching (immediately). [Hbg.]

Whilst singing an aching pain in the region of the larynx (aft. 6.1/4 h.). [Htn.]

Tension of the cervical muscles especially on the right side, on bending back the head (aft. 3 d.). [Ws.]

In the goitre sensation as if something waggled and moved about in it as if alive, especially when swallowing. [Stf.]

In the goitre sensation as of a working in it, a distension and pushing, as if all would come out there. [Stf.]

120. Painful tension on the left side of the neck near adam’s apple, on turning the head towards the right side (aft. 1.1/2 h.). [Ws.]

The region of the thyroid gland is as if indurated (aft. 4 d.).[Ws.]

Twitching in the right cervical muscles, when lying (aft. 24 h.). [Gn.]

At various times, twitching pricks externally in the region of the larynx. [Hnl.]

A transient stitch on the left side of the neck (aft. 1.1/4 h.). [Ws.]

125. Coarse slow stitches in the right cervical muscles, immediately on waking from sleep, which went off when swallowing and then immediately recurred (aft. 23 h.). [Htn.]

Transient formication on the neck (aft. 1.1/2 h.). [Ws.]

After opening the mouth wide and biting the teeth strongly together, a painful spasm in the cervical muscles, which drew the lower jaw forcibly down, with heaviness in the maxillary joint as if it were dislocated. [Hnl.]

Drawing needle-pricks through the left side of the neck (aft. 60 h.). [Ws.]

Painful sensation of stiffness on the left side of the nape, when he turns the head to the right side (aft. ½ h.). [Htn.]

130. frequently recurring pressive cracking pain on the left side of the nape, close to the scapula, which it not altered by any movement (aft. 7./12 h.). [Htn.]

On bowing a cracking in the nape (aft. 16 h.). [Hnl.]

Vesicles on the border the tongue with sore pain.

On the inside of the cheek and on the border of the tongue vesicles with shooting and burning, on account of which she could not eat anything solid.

Itching in the upper and lower teeth.

135. Shooting in the upper incisors. [Hbg.]

Pain in the back molars of the right lower jaw, as if the gums and teeth were swollen and the latter raised up, for two days.

Pain as if he bit on something between the teeth.

When chewing food a painful sensation as if the molars were on edge and loose (aft. 6.1/2 h.). [Lr.]

A (burning) pain in the left upper molars (aft. 12 h.). [Lr.]

140. When chewing, painful gums which are swollen.

A burning in the throat, the larynx, and then in the ears.

In the throat, especially after eating, a shooting and on the neck sensation as if something passed out there, in the morning and evening.

Accumulation of saliva (aft. ¼ h.).

Hiccup (aft. 8.1/4, 33, 37, 57 h.). [Lr.]

145. Repeated hiccup (aft. ¼ h.).[Wr.]

Sweet taste in the mouth.

Deep down in the throat, not on the mouth, a persistent bitter taste.

In the throat bitter taste (aft. ¼ h.). [Htn.]

Empty eructation (aft. ½ h.).

150. Eructation several times (aft. 2 h.). [Wr.]

Sour belching (aft. 5 h.). [Htn.]

Bitter eructation (aft. 1 h.). [Wr.]

Thirst for cold water, in the evening (aft. 38 h.). [Lr.]

Increased appetite.

155. Great hunger; she cannot be satiated.

Diminished appetite. [Fr.H-n.]

Water collects in his mouth, with nausea (aft. 24 h.). [Hnl.]

Persistent nausea.

Nausea during (accustomed) tobacco-smoking (aft. 30 h.). [Lr.]

160. Inclination to vomit, without vomiting. [Stf.]

The (accustomed) tobacco, when smoked, tastes scrapy bitter in the mouth and fauces (aft. ½ h.). [Htn.]

Every time he smokes (the customary) tobacco, violent thirst. [Htn.]

Extremely disagreeable sensation of relaxation in the oesophagus and stomach as if he had drunk a great deal of water – for several hours (aft. 23 h.). [Hnl.]

Aching in the pit of the stomach in the afternoon.

165. Aching pain in the gastric region, lasting all the forenoon (aft. ¼ h.).

She cannot bear any tight clothing on the body, especially in the region of the stomach.

Inward sensation of cold in the scrobiculus cordis with fulness in that region (aft. ¼ h.). [Htn.]

During the (accustomed) tobacco-smoking there occurs immediately heat in the belly which goes also up into the chest, without heat of the rest of the body, which on the contrary is chilly (aft. 3 h.). [Ws.]

Samuel Hahnemann
Samuel Hahnemann (1755-1843) was the founder of Homoeopathy. He is called the Father of Experimental Pharmacology because he was the first physician to prepare medicines in a specialized way; proving them on healthy human beings, to determine how the medicines acted to cure diseases.

Hahnemann's three major publications chart the development of homeopathy. In the Organon of Medicine, we see the fundamentals laid out. Materia Medica Pura records the exact symptoms of the remedy provings. In his book, The Chronic Diseases, Their Peculiar Nature and Their Homoeopathic Cure, he showed us how natural diseases become chronic in nature when suppressed by improper treatment.