Bryonia – White Bryony
Bryonia – White Bryony
The mother tincture is prepared from the fresh root of Bryoina cretica (sub-species dioica [Jacq.] Tutin.), gathered before flowering. N. O. Cucurbitaceae.
According to the doctrine of signatures, through its outward form, Bryonia alba points to its symptomatology. Just like the Bryonia patient, the fine, tender creeping tendrils are extraordinarily sensitive to touch and motion. If they are loosened from their support, the whole plant withers rapidly. The mighty root, which can weigh up to 3 kg., indicates an affinity with the body’s water-metabolism, and hints at the
great thirst (for beer) which is typical of Bryonia. (Sometimes known as “bovine thirst”: could drink a bucketful of water or beer.) This can only rank with the insa- tiable thirst of Curare. Bryonia is also an important remedy in renal calculi, pyelonephritis and other such conditions. The creeping tendrils and leaves of Bry- onia bear a strong resemblance to the hop plant. This may also hint at the remedy’s typical thirst for beer.
Larger doses of Bryonia cause abdominal pains, copious watery diarrhoea and even vomiting. Experimental high doses of Bryonia have resulted in inflammations of the stomach with blackish markings of the mucosa, and colitis.
The main action of Bryonia, as revealed in the provings, is on skin, mucosa and especially on the serous membranes.
There is a typical aggravation of complaints by motion in general, and also by light touch (similar to Apis Mellifica) and in fresh air, whilst amelioration occurs from rest, from firm pressure on the painful place and from staying in a warm room. The opposite is the case with the cough, which is worse on entering a warm room.
The amelioration from firm pressure may be the dominant modality (e.g. in renal colic), where there may be an urge to move and relief may be experienced on motion. The mood is irritable, bad-tempered, anxious, irascible and possibly also tearful. The Bryonia patient can also be quarrelsome. Sleep is frequently restless with start- ing, and with vexatious and delirious dreams. The skin is often jaundiced, (Bryonia is an important liver-remedy). However, there may also be itching and eruption of small nodules and vesicles, linked with sloughing of the epidermis and rawness in
Bryonia also has a typical painfulness of the mandibular joints, and also an acute inflammation of the temporo-mandibular joint.
Bryonia has a particularly characteristic headache, a bursting pain, possibly with pressing pains in the forehead, a feeling of heaviness and pulsating thrusts in the temples. There may also be stabbing and drawing over the whole skull, possibly combined with vertigo and a tendency to fall backwards, and a general feeling of weakness, which is most marked early in the morning.
As in Belladonna there may also be catarrhal conjunctivitis with mucopurulent discharge.
Further characteristic symptoms of Bryonia include acute rheumatic-inflammato- ry illness, e.g. rheumatic pains in the elbow and wrist joints, but also in the inter- costal muscles, pains in the sacrum and loins, arthritis of the knee joint, inflammato- ry pains in the ankle and toe joints, but with involvement of the synovial membrane and fibrous tissue as well as the musculature.
Thus Bryonia becomes one of the most important remedies in acute polyarthritis and acute muscular rheumatism, particularly when ameliorated by pressure and, when suitable, by strong massage, whilst in polyarthritis extreme rest and complete avoidance of any movement gives comfort. These conflicting and apparently mutu- ally exclusive symptoms of Bryonia’s are typical of joint and muscle illnesses, in that at one time rest ameliorates and at another relief is gained from strong pressure and lying on the affected side.
The catarrhal symptoms of the mucosa especially typical of Bryonia: catarrhs of the larynx, of the trachea with hoarseness, accumulation of tough mucus with desire to cough which, as already mentioned, occurs especially on entering a warm room. Then the expectoration loosens with difficulty and a dry cough follows. Along with this we find constriction of the chest, and also stabbing pains there, which only occur in deep inspiration. These are common symptoms in pleurisy, for which Bry- onia is an important remedy, also when accompanied by pneumonia.
As with Belladonna, the tonsils may also be red and inflamed, and the swallowing may be difficult on account of stomatitis and tonsillitis.
In all the inflammatory illnesses which require Bryonia there is commonly a bad, insipid or bitter taste with lack of appetite and particularly an inordinate thirst day and night; however after drinking there is discomfort and nausea, and after eating there is a sensation of pressure in the stomach with possible vomiting of the con- tents.
The tongue is mostly coated brown. In the epigastrium and hypochondria on both sides, there is a sensation of pressure and painful tension. Constipation may alternate with diarrhoea, or there may be soft loose stools with cutting abdominal pains. The typical Bryonia stool has a “burnt” appearance and is dry.
Bryonia is one of the most important remedies in appendicitis. However, it is im- portant here to avoid giving oral doses of Bryonia in low potency, since then occa- sionally, unnoticed, a crisis can follow with perforation of the appendix and possible dangerous consequences. The author has observed in many cases that, e.g. after co- pious ingestion of sutoxins (cold meat platter, fresh liver-sausage, pork knuckle, smoked rib of pork and the like) first irritation of the gall-bladder occurred, which quickly died down in response to doses of Belladonna and Chelidonium or suitable antihomotoxic/biotherapeutic combination-remedies, followed by constipation and the typical Bryonia tongue and other symptoms (e.g. thirst, desire for rest, etc.).
If Bryonia 4x is now given in frequent doses, there is the danger that a latent and so far asymptomatic appendicitis will develop, becoming acute without warning and will be followed by peritonitis. Therefore never give Bryonia in low potency in such conditions or if acute appendicitis is suspected, but use higher potencies (30X or higher), and under these the appendicitis will die down, observation being main- tained. However, chronic appendicitis reacts well to low potencies of Bryonia.
Bryonia can also be very useful in chronic gastritis, should other remedies such as Pulsatilla, Arsenicum Album, Argentum Nitricum, Oxalis Acetosella etc. fail. The author once saw a serious case of chronic gastritis (without ulceration) with tongue coated brown, clear up quickly under Bryonia, after having shown a certain im- provement under Antimonium Crudum. The patient was a 30-year-old galvanising worker who was constantly working with cyanides and had been suffering from this chronic gastritis for many years.
The characteristic stabbing pains of Bryonia only occur on motion, in contrast to Colocynthis, in which remedy the stabbing pains can come on without any particular cause; this also happens in Kalium Carbonicum (stabbing in the chest on the right side).
Bryonia is also a remedy for typhoid fevers, the tongue being mostly coated brown, and sensory disturbances and delirium often occurring, as e.g. in meningitis, when the lower jaw is constantly in motion, as if chewing. (Also a Bryonia symp- tom).
Dehydration and dryness of the mucosa are typical Bryonia, and we see them in the lungs and bronchi, combined with the typical Bryonia thirst, in a hard, dry cough with stabbing, rawness and pain. After Bryonia has been given this cough loosens more easily, with expectoration. A typical Bryonia symptom, by the way, is that on coughing the patient holds his head and chest firmly, because this gives relief. With the Bryonia headache it is similar: pressure e.g. on the occiput, where the nerves leave the skull, provides relief.
Bryonia may also be indicated for the consequences of over-heating in summer,
e.g. in cases of diarrhoea, which may precede a dehydration of the mucosa. Bryonia is also indicated in vicarious epistaxis (instead of menses) and in drying-
up of the milk in nursing mothers with possible consequent mastitis. In such cases it is best combined in injection with Hepar Sulphuris and Mercurius Solubilis.
Summing up the main symptoms of Bryonia, we have the following essential pic- ture of the remedy, which marks out Bryonia as a great and often-needed polychrest:
- Complaints aggravated by motion, after eating, by vexation; and ameliorated by rest and pressure, also by lying on the affected side. Easily angered. (Anacardium swears.)
- Stabbing pains, worse from motion, better from rest. Bursting and stabbing headaches. Trigeminal neuralgia (right side). Acute pleurisy. Intercostal neural- gia. (Also Ranunculus Bulbosus.)
- Acute and chronic rheumatic polyarthritis. Acute pleurisy with stabbing pains on coughing. Peritonitis. Acute appendicitis (high potencies!); also chronic. Mastitis. Muscular rheumatism.
- Typhoid fevers with sensory disturbances. Meningitis with constant chewing mo- tion of lower jaw.
- Thirst for large quantities of beer (typical in fever etc.). “Bovine” thirst, renal ob- struction in nephrolithiasis, better under pressure. Pyelitis. Renal colic.
- Dry cough with stitching pains in the pleura, especially on entering a warm room, better out of doors. On coughing holds head and chest with the hands. Generally, acute catarrhal colds, also stomatitis and tonsillitis.
The German Monograph-Preparation Commission for the Homoeopathic Field of Therapy has, under the Preparation Monograph for Bryonia cretica, published the following indication(s) in the German Bundesanzeiger (German Federal Gazette) for bryonia (alba): acute inflammation of the respiratory organs, pleura, peritoneum, and liver; acute and chronic rheumatism.