Bryonia is a toxic plant in the gourd family. There are two species used in healing, Byronia alba and Bryonia diocia. B. alba is most commonly used in homeopathic healing.
Bryonia is a native European perennial climbing vine with red berries, white flowers, and a thick, white, fleshy taproot, or primary root. The root is the part of the plant used in healing. It has a strong, bitter odor and taste and can cause death within hours by inflammation of the digestive system. Bryonia is also called devil's turnip, common bryony, white bryony, or wild hops. In homeopathy it is abbreviated bry.
Homeopathic medicine operates on the principle that like heals like. This means that a disease can be cured by treating it with products that produce the same symptoms as the disease. These products follow another
In homeopathic terminology, the effectiveness of remedies is proved by experimentation and reporting done by famous homeopathic practitioners. Bryonia was proved as a remedy by the German founder of homeopathy, Dr. Samuel Hahnemann (1775–1843) in 1834.
In homeopathic medicine, bryonia is used to treat symptoms that develop slowly. These symptoms include feeling lethargic, tired, irritable, extremely thirsty, and feeling excruciating pain upon the slightest movement. Psychological symptoms include feeling mentally sluggish. People who need bryonia may fall into a stupor and be confused when called back to reality, especially at night. Some people feel indecisive and restless despite the fact that any movement makes their symptoms worse.
Bryonia is used to treat dry, spasmodic cough that causes pain, influenza symptoms, and severe headaches that develop slowly. It is also used to treat chronic diseases such as arthritis, painful or swollen joints, and rheumatism.
Other conditions for which homeopathic healers recommend bryonia include inflammation of the chest, pleurisy, pneumonia, and other lung conditions. Byronia is also said to have an effect on the digestive system. It is used to treat abdominal pain, acute gastroenteritis, diarrhea (especially diarrhea that is worse in the morning), nausea, and vomiting.
In homeopathic medicine the fact that certain symptoms get better or worse under different conditions is used as a diagnostic tool to indicate what remedy will be most effective. Symptoms that benefit from treatment with bryonia get much worse with movement. The smallest movement aggravates the person needing bryonia. Symptoms may get worse after eating and drinking, despite the fact that people needing bryonia crave cool drinks and food. Symptoms also get worse in heat and in the summer. People may feel dizzy in the heat and have trouble sleeping. Pain is worse at night and on the right side of the body. Symptoms improve with rest, application of pressure to the painful part of the body, remaining still, and a cool environment.
Homeopathy also ascribes certain personality types to certain remedies. The bryonia personality is said to be insecure about their financial situation, even when they are wealthy, and thus become materialistic. People with the bryonia personality tend to be calculating, clean-living, prudent, and meticulous about details, fitting the stereotype of an accountant or banker.
Outside of homeopathy, bryonia has a long history of folk use. The Greeks used bryony to treat gangrene, and in the Middle Ages it was used to treat leprosy. Modern herbalists use bryony to treat painful joints. It may be taken internally, or the leaves may be applied externally to increase blood flow to the painful area. It is also used to treat asthma, bronchitis, pleurisy, and intestinal ulcers. Some herbalists use it to reduce blood pressure.
The root is dug in the autumn, chopped, then pounded into a pulp. For homeopathic remedies, the dried plant material is ground finely then prepared by extensive dilutions. There are two homeopathic dilution scales of dilution, the decimal (x) scale with a dilution of 1:10 and the centesimal (c) scale where the dilution factor is 1:100. Once the mixture is diluted, shaken, strained, then re-diluted many times to reach the desired degree of potency, the final mixture is added to lactose (a type of sugar) tablets or pellets. These are then stored away from light. Bryonia is available commercially in tablets in many different strengths. Dosage depends on the symptoms being treated.
Homeopathic and orthodox medical practitioners agree that by the time the initial remedy solution is diluted to strengths used in homeopathic healing, it is likely that very few, if any, molecules of the original remedy remain. Homeopaths, however, believe that these remedies continue to work through an effect called potentization that has not yet been explained by mainstream scientists.
Bryonia is a poisonous plant and should be used as a folk remedy very, very cautiously. It can cause death. When taken in the extremely dilute doses recommended by homeopaths, it has no toxicity, although some individuals may have a personal adverse reaction to the remedy.
When taken in the recommended homeopathic dilute form, no side effects have been reported. When taken in larger doses, bryonia irritates and inflames the digestive system, which may result in death.
Studies on interactions between bryonia and conventional pharmaceuticals or other herbs have not been found.
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Ullman, Robert, and Judyth Reichenberg-Ullman. Homeopathic Self-Care. Rocklin, CA: Prima Publishing, 1997.
Foundation for Homeopathic Education and Research. 21 Kittredge Street, Berkeley, CA 94704. (510) 649–8930.
International Foundation for Homeopathy. P. O. Box 7, Edmonds, WA 98020. (206) 776–4147.
National Center for Homeopathy. 801 N. Fairfax Street, Suite 306, Alexandria, VA 22314. (703)548–7790.