Common sponge, toasted. N.O. Coelenterata. Tincture, 20gr. of roasted sponge to 400 drops of alcohol.
SPONGIA contains, with other substances, both iodine and bromine, to which, especially the former, its symptoms are largely due. Our knowledge of the therapeutics of spongia is derived entirely from the provings and its clinical use. It irritates and inflames the larynx, trachea, thyroid gland, heart and testicles. Its most marked effects occur in the larynx and heart.
Respiration.-It causes dry catarrh or inflammation of the larynx, shown by tenderness of the thyroid cartilage to touch and pain in it on turning the head, and by a dry, painful, hollow, croupy cough, each cough being accompanied by a rasping sound, which has been described as “like a saw driven through a pine board, each cough corresponding to a thrust of the saw.” It is excited by a tickling low down in the chest, or by a sensation as if there is a plug or valve obstructing the larynx. There is no mucous rattle with the spongia cough and commonly no expectoration. If after prolonged dyspnoea and coughing a little mucus comes up it is difficult to detach, cannot be raised further than the epiglottis and has to be swallowed: The cough is worse before midnight, in a warm room, from talking, from eating sweets, smoking tobacco, from cold drinks, cold, dry wind, and lying with the head low; it is relieved by swallowing, especially warm drinks (ars., lyc., nux). The face is red and the eyes protrude with the cough. The throat feels sore, and this is aggravated by sweets and by hawking and coughing. There is a bitter taste in the throat. Respiration is wheezing, whistling or sawing, and there are worse during inspiration. The voice is hoarse or crackled and gives out when singing or talking. Dyspnoea is worse when lying down, the patient must sit up and bend forward, and the chest feels exhausted. THis sensation of sinking and exhaustion in the chest often comes suddenly with a feeling of blood rushing into the chest. There is frequently a sensation “as if one had to breathe through a dry sponge.”
Circulation.-Spongia has a great influence on the heart and causes attacks of oppression and cardiac pain, which are worse from lying with the head low. Many of the dyspnoeic symptoms are of cardiac origin.
One of the provers, “a woman suffering from organic disease of the heart, ate a piece of sponge just roasted. It had a sudden and alarming effect, producing terrible palpitation and a suffocation which threatened to be fatal; lips became livid, respiration violently gasping; there was great pain in the heart, terror and fear of approaching death. After ten to fifteen minutes these symptoms began gradually to subside and the attack was followed by a very remarkable relief of her old cardiac symptoms, which lasted several weeks.”
The patient may go off to sleep comfortably early in the night, but wakes after midnight, feeling smothered or suffocated, he starts up frightened, with flushed face and hard, rapid breathing. The pulse is frequent, hard and full, like the aconite pulse, but there is not the same amount of febrile disturbance with spongia as there is with aconite, though the respiratory trouble is greater. The veins become fuller and move livid pari passu with the embarrassment to the circulation.
Spongia enlarges and hardens the thyroid gland and causes swelling pain and tenderness in existing goitres. It also causes aching and swelling of the testes, and shooting pains in the spermatic cords.
Mind.-The mentality is affected by spongia in the direction of excitement and terror, and this occurs usually in association with the cardiac and respiratory distress . In calmer moments there may be an irresistible desire to sing, with excessive mirth, which alternates with paroxysms of anxiety.
Respiratory.-From the foregoing it will readily be seen that spongia must be remedy for croup, and so it has proved. It is indicated for croup when the laryngeal sounds are dry, harsh and sibilant,in contradistinction to the moist, rattling sounds for which hepar is the suitable medicine. The spongia croup comes on during the first part of the night; hepar croup occurs after midnight. Often the one stage follows the other in croup and Boenninghausen`s sequence of powders for croup may then be given with advantage. These are one of aconite, then two of spongia, followed by two of hepar, commencing in the evening and given at intervals of two hours. Spongia is useful for all simple inflammations of the larynx when there are hoarseness, Aphonia and a harsh, barking cough, relieved by eating and drinking, especially of warm food and drink. It is also a remedy for laryngeal phthisis, and is the more indicated in this complaint as spongia has a relation to the apex of the left lung and has been useful in cases of tuberculosis commencing in that locality. The cough seems to come from a tickling low down beneath the sternum and causes pain in the larynx. Spongia also relieves the dry, chronic sympathetic cough of organic heart disease.
Circulatory.-In disease of the heart itself it is very valuable, for pericarditis, acute endocarditis with vegetations on the valves and a blowing systolic murmur. The chief indication for its employment in disease of the heart is sudden waking in the night in fright, with feeling of suffocation and faintness, the head and face being covered with perspiration; the patient sits up in bed gasping for breath, and with the heart violently palpitating. Spongia is useful for enlargement of the right heart with asthmatic breathing, for cardiac dyspnoea and for aneurysm of the aorta when there is present the characteristics dry, paroxysmal cough, worse when lying down. The dropsies and oedemas for which it has been recommended are secondary to cardiac mischief, and when they are relieved it is through its beneficial action on the heart.
Goitre.-Its influence on the thyroid gland is due to its iodine content. It has been a favourite remedy for endemic goitre, in which it has been very successfully used. In the present day iodine has largely taken its place in this disease but there are cases in which spongia is more effectual, and when iodine is given in the form of spongia there is less probability of overdosing (a not infrequent event) as it is administered in smaller quantities in that way and is mixed with the other constituents of spongia. The presence in goitre of concomitant characteristics symptoms of spongia must decide between that remedy and iodine. It is sometimes useful in exophthalmic goitre.
Glands.-Spongia has influence in the direction of chronically inflaming and hardening lymphatic glands, especially those of the neck, and it is used for the treatment of chronic, hard glands of the subjects of the tuberculous diathesis.
Sexual.-Its action on the testicles and epididymis renders it a remedy for orchitis and epididymitis. It is indicated for chronic, inveterate cases of orchitis when the testicles become progressively larger and harder; this condition may follow checked gonorrhoea.
Fevers.-Spongia is not a medicine that causes high temperature, but the fevers for which it is suitable have their own peculiarity; the chill commences across the back and the patient shivers with cold, even in front of a stove; the heat which follows spreads all over the body except the thighs, which remain numb and cold.
Head.-With spongia there is a dull headache on the right side on coming into warm room, or one at “the base of the brain” when lying the patients must sit up and hold the head perfectly still. The presence of either of these headaches will be an additional indication for spongia in any of the before-mentioned complaints.
(1) Hard, dry, rasping, sawing cough in the first part of the night; croup.
(2) Absence of rattling with respiration and cough (hepar the reserve).
(3) Mucus raised from the chest must be swallowed.
(4) Sudden waking from sleep with fright, palpitation, anxious dyspnoea and perspiration.
(5) The subjects of endemic goitre.
(6) Hard and chronically enlarged glands; chronic orchitis.
(7) Blue-eyed, fair-haired persons, inclined to the tuberculous diathesis.
(8) Children; women of lax fibre.
From touch and pressure, motion, lying down, raising the arms (fainting), thinking of symptoms (oxal, ac.), at night, after sleep (lach), bending forwards (heart symptoms), warm room, cold air (cough), before midnight (croup), sweets (throat and cough), after midnight (heart symptoms).
From warm food and drink, swallowing dry, cold weather (headache), sitting up, bending forward (dyspnoea).