This section is from the book "An Experimental History Of The Materia Medica", by William Lewis.
Spongia Pharrn. Lond. & Edinb. Sponge: a soft, light, very porous and compressible sub-stance, readily imbibing water; found in the sea, adhering to rocks, particularly in the Mediterranean, about the islands of the Archipelago. It has been commonly supposed a vegetable production, but is more probably, like the corallines, of animal origin. Chemically ana-lysed, it yields, like animal subitances, a volatile alkaline salt, and this even in larger quantity than I have obtained from any of the other animal matters except the bags of the silk-worm: the caput mortuum, incinerated, yields also a large proportion of fixt salt, not however an alkaline one like that of vegetables, but chiefly of the marine kind: a like salt is obtainable by boiling the sponge in water without burning.
Dry sponge, from its property of imbibing and swelling by moisture, is sometimes used as a tent for dilating wounds and ulcers: for this purpose, after being carefully freed from the small stones generally lodged in it, it is dipt in melted wax, and the wax squeezed out from it in a press †. * It has also been found to be the most efficacious of all those substances which have been employed to suppress hemorrhagies on the ground of their strong adhesion to the mouths of the wounded vessels; such as agaric, puff ball, etc. For this purpose, a very dry and solid piece, of a cubical or conical form, should be applied in close contact with the vessel, and retained by proper compreslion. It soon adheres with great force; and indeed its difficult removal is one of its chief inconveniencies. Very large arteries have been prevented from bleeding by this application (a).
† Spongia praeparata Ph. Paris.
Burnt in a close earthen vessel, till it becomes black and friable †, it has been given in doses of a scruple against scrophulous complaints and cutaneous defedations; in which it has some-times been of service, in virtue, probably, of its saline matter, the proportion of which, after the great reduction which the other matter of the sponge has suffered in the burning, is very large. By virtue of this saline matter alio, the preparation, if ground in a brass mortar, corrodes so much of the metal, as to contract a disagreeable taint and sometimes an emetic quality: hence the college expressly orders it to be powdered in a mortar of glass or marble. * The burned sponge is a principal article in what is called the Coventry method of cure in the bronchocele, and also in that published by Mr. ProiTer (b).