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Pumice has been used as an abrasive with medical applications for over 2000 years. Introduced into traditional Chinese medicine in the mid-eighteenth century, it has been employed as part of a decoction (tea) in combination with a range of herbs and other geopharmaceuticals (including amber, cinnabar, mica and the bones of fossil vertebrates) in the treatment of gall bladder cancer, urinary conditions, dry and hacking coughs, and anxiety disorders. Pumice has had a relatively stable literary history in Western medicine. ‘Spuma maris’ (sea foam) has been a source of some confusion in classical literature, a situation exacerbated by some...

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