Substances & Homeopatic Remedies

Spongia tosta

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Sycon gelatinosum / Spongia officinalis


O.E. sponge, spunge, from L. spongia "a sponge," also "sea animal from which a sponge comes," from Gk. spongia, related to spongos "sponge," borrowed from an unknown source. The Latin word is the source of O.S. spunsia, M.Du. spongie, O.Fr. esponge, Sp. esponja, It. spugna. To throw in the sponge "quit, submit" (1860) is from prizefighting, in ref. to the sponges used to cleanse the faces of combatants between rounds (cf. later throw in the towel). Sponge-cake is attested from 1808. Spongy "soft, elastic" is from 1539.


Traditional name

Italian: Spugna tostata
English: Roasted Sponge
German: Dalmatiner Schwamm

Used parts

Whole body including skeleton.
Bleached sponges are not suitable for medicinal purposes, and those selected pieces are roasted until brown and friable.


Animalia; Porifera - Sponges; Spongiidae



Original proving

The drug was proved by Hahnemann. Allen's Encyclop. Mat. Med. Vol. IX, 106.

Description of the substance

Two or more species of spongia, known as Turkey sponge, are used. The horny skeleton, from which the desired substance is prepared consists mostly of siliceous or calcareous matter, while the spongy portion is soft, elastic and compressible and traversed by many lacunae, with circular openings on the surface.

Habitat: The Mediterranean, near Syria and Greece.

common name for members of the aquatic animal phylum Porifera, and for the dried, processed skeletons of certain species used to hold water. Over 4,500 living species are known; they are found throughout the world, especially in shallow temperate waters. All are marine except the members of a single freshwater family. Adult sponges are sessile, attaching themselves to rocks, coral, shells, and other substrates. They show so little movement that until the 18th cent. naturalists considered them plants. Most adults are colonial. Sexual reproduction gives rise to a free-swimming larva, which soon settles on a suitable substrate and develops into the adult form. Asexual reproduction also occurs. The individual sponge is saclike in construction; water is drawn into its central cavity through many tiny holes in the body wall and expelled through a large opening at the top of the body. Hard materials of various kinds, depending on the type of sponge, are imbedded in the body wall, forming a skeleton. A colony consists of a mass of many such individuals. Solitary sponges and colonies range in diameter from about 1/2 in. to 5 ft (1-150 cm) and vary greatly in shape. Some are branched, some more or less globular, and some are thin encrustations on rocks and pilings. Brilliantly colored sponges are common. Bath sponges are the skeletons of certain colonial sponges. These skeletons are composed of a fibrous meshwork of spongin, a material related to horn, and owe their absorbent properties to the fineness of the mesh. Sponges have been used to hold liquid since ancient times. The ancient Greeks used them for bathing and scrubbing, and Roman soldiers used them for drinking. Commercial sponges, species of the genera Spongia and Hippospongia, are harvested principally in the Mediterranean and Caribbean seas and off the Florida coast. They are brought up by divers in deep water, or raked in with long-handled forks in shallow water. They are left in water until the living tissue rots away; the skeletons are then cleaned and dried and sometimes bleached. Sponge fishing has declined in recent decades due to the use of synthetic sponges and to a decline in the population of commercially valuable natural sponges. The block-shaped sponges now commonly sold are the synthetic product. Dried natural sponges are light gray or brown and irregular in shape.

They all live in water and most live in seawater. They have a wide variety of shapes, but all have pores through which they pump large quantities of seawater. Most modern sponges do not secrete a hard skeleton that would be preserved after death. Some forms secrete calcium carbonate or silica, and these are the types that have been preserved as fossils in Kentucky.

Sponge is an animal that lives at the bottom of oceans and other bodies of water.  Sponges do not have heads, arms, or internal organs.  They live attached to rocks, plants, and other objects beneath the water's surface.  Adult sponges do not move about from one place to another, and many sponges look like plants.  For these reasons, people once regarded sponges as plants.  But today, scientists classify sponges as animals.  Like most animals, sponges eat their food.  They cannot manufacture their own food, as do plants.  

There are about 5,000 species of sponges.  Most of them live in oceans, but a few species are found in lakes, rivers, and other bodies of fresh water.  Sponges can live in both shallow and deep water.  Most marine (ocean-dwelling) sponges inhabit warm or tropical seas.  

Sponges are among the oldest kinds of animals.  Fossils have been found of marine sponges that lived more than 500 million years ago.  For centuries, people have used sponges for cleaning and bathing.  The skeletons of certain sponges make good cleaning tools because they are soft and absorb large amounts of water.  Today, commercial fishing crews harvest bath sponges in the Gulf Stream and the Mediterranean Sea.  However, most cleaning sponges are artificially produced.

The bodies of sponges

Sponges vary widely in shape, color, and size.  Some sponges are round while others are shaped like vases.  Many simply follow the shape of the object on which they grow, forming a living crust.  Marine sponges range in color from bright yellow, orange, or purple, to gray or brown.  Sponges of the same species may be of many different colors.  Most freshwater sponges are green, purple, or gray.  The smallest sponges measure less than 1 inch (2.5 centimeters) in diameter.  The largest grow to more than 4 feet (1.2 meters) in diameter.  

Body openings.  A sponge has two types of openings on its body surface: (1) small pores called ostia, and (2) a large osculum.  The sponge's ostia allow water to enter its body, and the osculum allows water to leave the body.  Among more advanced sponges, a network of canals transports water entering through the ostia to all parts of the sponge.  The water brings tiny plants and animals into the sponge.  These tiny organisms are the sponge's food.  Waste products--along with water--leave the sponge through the osculum.  

Special cells.  The canals that pass into the sponge's body lead into many small chambers.  These small chambers in the sponge are lined with cells called choanocytes, also known as collar cells.  Each of these cells has a delicate tissue, or collar, that acts like a net to trap food particles.  Each collar cell also bears a long threadlike structure called a flagellum.  The sponge's flagella whip around, and this action creates the water currents that flow through the body of the sponge.  

In addition to collar cells, the sponge's body also contains other types of cells.  Some of these cells form tissue that covers the sponge's body and the walls of the canals inside the body.  Other types of cells travel freely within the sponge.  These cells have many different functions.  For example, some heal injuries to the body and others play a major role in reproduction.  Still others produce material for the sponge's skeleton.  

Skeleton.  Sponges have several types of skeletons.  Most sponges have a mineral skeleton made up of tiny, needlelike spicules.  The spicules may be of either calcium carbonate (limestone) or silica, a glasslike mineral.  In bath sponges, the skeleton consists only of fibers of a tan-colored protein called spongin.  The skeleton of spongin fibers is what remains after a bath sponge dies and its cells are removed.  Many sponges have a skeleton of both mineral spicules and spongin fibers.  In other sponges, the skeleton consists of silica spicules, spongin fibers, and a massive base of limestone crystals.  

The sponge's skeleton forms a framework that supports and protects the body.  Spicules may be organized into bundles that form strong, geometric networks.  In many sponges, numerous spicules grow around the osculum.  These spicules protect the sponge from animals that try to eat it or enter its body.

How sponges reproduce

Sponges reproduce both sexually and asexually.  In sexual reproduction, a new sponge develops from the joining of two sex cells.  In asexual reproduction, a new sponge is formed by methods that do not involve sex cells.  Most sponges also have the ability to replace lost or injured body parts by growing new ones.  This process is called regeneration.  

Sexual reproduction in sponges begins when an egg (female sex cell) starts to grow inside the parent sponge's body.  At first, the egg absorbs food from surrounding body fluids.  Later, it engulfs cells called nurse cells, which provide food reserves.  When fully grown, the egg is fertilized by a sperm (male sex cell).  Some sponges produce both eggs and sperm.  In these species, the egg may be fertilized by a sperm from the same animal.  

Other species produce either eggs or sperm only.  In these species, another sponge releases sperm into the surrounding water.  A sperm enters the parent sponge's body by way of the ostia and canal network and fertilizes the egg.  

After the egg is fertilized, it gradually develops into a larva (immature animal form).  The larva is covered with cells that have flagella.  The flagella beat rapidly, enabling the larva to swim outward through the parent's canal system, aided by water currents.  The larva leaves the sponge through the osculum and swims around from a few hours to a few days.  It then attaches itself to some suitable surface at the bottom of the body of water and develops into an adult sponge.  

Asexual reproduction in sponges may occur in a variety of ways.  In every case, however, it involves cells called archaeocytes.  These cells have no specialized functions.  Instead, they have the capacity to develop into any type of cell in the sponge's body.  During asexual reproduction, a group of archaeocytes grow into every type of cell needed to form a new sponge.  

Sponges may reproduce asexually by budding.  In this process, buds or branches filled with archaeocytes grow on the parent sponge.  These growths may break away from or fall off the parent sponge or remain attached to it.  The growths eventually develop into new sponges.  

Some marine sponges and most freshwater sponges also may reproduce asexually by forming gemmules.  Gemmules are budlike structures that consist of a group of archaeocytes within a tough shell of spongin.  Many gemmules are reinforced by spicules.  Gemmules typically form in response to either cold or hot weather.  Protected within the gemmule shell, the archaeocytes can survive periods of drought or freezing temperatures, though the parent sponge may die.  Gemmules "hatch" when more favorable weather returns.  The archaeocytes then spread out on a solid surface and develop into a new sponge.  

Regeneration.  The developmental abilities of archaeocytes give sponges remarkable powers of regeneration.  Even if large parts of a sponge's body are lost or damaged, they may be replaced or repaired.  In laboratory experiments, scientists have pressed sponges through extremely fine cloth so that the bodies of the sponges break up into separate cells or clumps of cells.  When these cells are replaced in water, they first migrate together to form rounded cell clusters.  Then the cell clusters reorganize to form complete sponges again.

Kinds of sponges

Sponges make up a phylum (major group) of animals.  This phylum is called Porifera, a name that comes from a Latin word meaning pore-bearer.  Zoologists divide sponges into four classes, based chiefly on common skeletal features.  

Sponges with a limestone skeleton belong to the class Calcarea.  Most species in this class inhabit shallow parts of oceans, but some have been found at depths of up to 13,000 feet (4,000 meters).  The tiny sponge called Sycon belongs to this group.  

A second class, called Hexactinellida, consists of marine sponges with a silica skeleton.  These species are commonly called glass sponges.  Their spicules form beautiful geometric patterns.  Glass sponges are found up to 23,000 feet (7,000 meters) beneath the ocean's surface.  The Venus's-flower-basket is a widespread species of glass sponge.  

Some ocean sponges have a skeleton of silica and spongin with a thick base of limestone.  These sponges make up the class Sclerospongiae.  Many of them live in underwater caves.  Members of this group are closely related to marine sponges that lived hundreds of millions of years ago.  

All freshwater sponges and most of the best-known marine sponges are in the class Demospongiae.  Most of these animals have a skeleton of silica or spongin or of both substances.  One kind of sponge in this class, the boring sponge, bores into coral, seashells, and other hard structures.  This activity plays an important role in shaping such marine environments as coral reefs and seacoasts.  Other marine species in this group of sponges include the red-beard sponge, the sheepswool sponge, the sulfur sponge, and bath sponges.  

Scientific classification.  Sponges make up the phylum Porifera, which is divided into the classes Calcarea, Demospongiae, Hexactinellida, and Sclerospongiae.