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.]

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.