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Chap. 089. Bryonie White.

Bryony, White. Vitis alba. Bryony or Wild Vine. I. The Names. It is called in Greek ********* i. e. Vitis alba, not that it is a Vine, but because it is something like one. Also ******** i. e. emano, scateo, from putting forth, because it puts forth many Branches and Tendrells, whereby it climbs up the adjacent Bushes, Hedges, Trees, or other things adjoining to it. It is also called by some because the Seeds or Grains of it were formerly used to take away Hair. In Arabick it is called Fesire, Alfesire, Fessera, and Alfessera: In Latin, Bryonia, and Bryonia alba, Vitis alba, Vitalba, sic dicta, non quod sit Vitis, sed quod ei fimilis, as aforesaid: also Viticella, Rorastrun: Apiastellum: In Engish, Bryonie, White Bryonie, and Wild Vine. The Uvae or Berries are many times called in English, Tettar Berries, because of their Effects in curing Tettars.

II. The Kinds. There are two principal Kinds of Bryonie,

  • 1. The White, of which in this Chapter.
  • 2. The Black, of which in the next.

The White is also threefold,

  • 1. Bryonie alba vulgaris, Vitis alba vulgaris, with all the names above mentioned, Our Common White Bryonie. (Bryonia dioica. -Henriette.)
  • 2. Bryonia alba vulgaris fructo nigro, Vitis alba baccis nigris, White Bryonie with Black Berries; Which some from the Blackness of its Berries call Bryonia Nigra, and Vitis Nigra, but erroneously, for this is not the Black Bryonie, but a Species of the White. (Bryonia alba. -Henriette.)
  • 3. Bryonia Dicoccos of Honorius Bellas; Bryonia Cretica maculata, of Bauhin; Bryonia Cretica, and Cretica Dicoccos, by Parkinson, White Bryonie with Double Berries. (Bryonia dioica. -Henriette.)

III. The Description. The Common White Bryonie, has a Root which grows to an exceeding largeness, weighing sometimes half an hundred weight, and of the bigness of a Child of a year old, with many long Branches or Arms growing from it, of a pale whitish color on the outside, and whiter within, of a sharp, bitter, and fulfsome taste. From this Root proceeds many long, rough, but very tender Branches at the beginning, which as they grow up, climb up upon Hedges, Trees, or other Bushes adjoining to it, from these Branches come forth many very rough broad Leave's, divided into five partitions for the most part, in form very much like a Vine leaf, but smaller, rougher, and of a whitish, or hoary green color, spreading very far upon Trees or Bushes, or whatever it is which stands next to it: from the Joints with the Leaves come forth small Tendrells or Claspers, which twine about whatever small thing is next it: at the several Joints also with the Leaves and Claspers (especially towards the tops of the Branches) come forth a long Stalk, bearing thereon many whitish Flowers in a long Tuft, as it were in a Cluster, consisting of five small Leaves apiece, laid open like a Star, after which come the Berries, standing more open or separate one from another than in a Cluster of Grapes: they are green at first, but very red when they are through ripe, about the bigness of Nightshade berries; of no good or pleasant smell, and of a loathsom taste provoking to Vomit, or causing a nauseousness in the Stomach

IV. The Common White Bryonie with Black Berries, seems to be absolutely the same with the former, save, that the Root of this is of a pale yellow color on the inside, and somewhat brownish on the outsides and the Berries after their greenness is past, change not into a red color, but into a perfect black, when they are through ripe; but as to all other parts of the Plant, as in its long, tender, and climbing Branches, form of its Leaves, Tendrels or Claspers, and Color, Shape, Magnitude and Mode of its Flowers, it is exactly the same with the former so that one cannot be known from the other.

V. The Bryonia dicoccos, has a Root very long, but never growing to be bigger than a Mans Arm, of a browner color on the outside, and not so white within as the common. From this Root springs forth many long, rough, trailing Branches, in the same manner like the former in all respects, from which spring clasping Tendrels, winding it self upon any thing which stands next it, as the other does. It has broad Leaves, with such divisions therein, as the other have, but that they are somewhat smaller, greener, and striped with white lines through the middle, as like wife in the Veins which go to the Corners. The Flowers are somewhat greater than the former, of a pale whitish color, standing every one upon a little longer Footstalk, which being past, there comes Berries in their places, which are at first green, but red when full ripe, and differing in form from the others, for standing Semicircular upon the Stalks they are joined at the bottom, as if it were but one Berry, but are parted at the tops into two parts, wherein are contained two Seeds, from whence arose the Sirname of Dicoccos.

VI. The Places. The first grows on Banks, or under Hedges where are Trees, shrubs, and Quickfets, in many places throughout the Kingdom. The Second is found in like places, but where the former with red Berries is not, and is found in some places in Germany, Bohemia, &c. The last grows plentifully in Candia, from whence Honorius Bellus sent the Seed to Clusius, and others.

VII. The Times. They all flower in the Month of July and August, some earlier, some later, according to the Clime they grow in, and the warmth or coldness of the Seasons of the Year; and their Fruit or Seed is ripe in some little time after.

VIII. The Qualities. They are hot and dry in the third Degree, Attractive, Abstersive, Cephalick, Nephritick, Hysterick, Arthritick, and Cathartick, purging as well Choler as Phlegm, and Watry Humors.

IX. The Specification. It is a peculiar thing against the Dropsie, and Kings-Evil.

X. The Preparations. You may make therefrom,

  • 1. A Distilled Water of the Root, Berries, and whole Plant.
  • 2. A Juice of the Berries.
  • 3. A Juice of the Root.
  • 4. An Essence of the Root.
  • 5. A Decoction of the Root.
  • 6. A Syrup of the same.
  • 7. A Pouder of the Root.
  • 8. An Electuary of the Root.
  • 9. A Foecula thereof.
  • 10. A Pessary of the Root.
  • 11. A Saline Tincture thereof.
  • 12. A Bathe of the Root, and whole Plant.
  • 13. A Cataplasm of the Root.
  • 14. An Oil, or Ointment.

The Virtues.

XI. The Distilled Water of the whole Plant. It is good against Scurf, Morphew, Leprosie, Manginess, Spots, Freckles, Tanning, Sun-burning, &c. the Face and Skin being often washed therewith.

XII. The Juice of the Berries. It has all the same Virtues, but is much stronger, and is said to be a peculiar thing for the cure of Tettars and Ringworms, Herpes, Scabs, Itch, and other breakings out.

XIII. The Juice of the Root. It is thus Made or Extracted. In April take away the Earth, and uncover the Root which done, make a deep but narrow overthwart cut or gash into it; and put in a Goose Quill a little under the Slit, letting the quill lye floping or leaning downwards, when thrust into the Root; bat first make a hole with your Knife to get in the Quill; then placing a Receiver under the quill, you will get a great store of the Juice, which will drop thereinto. A spoonful hereof taken by such as are troubled with Fits of the Mother, it helps them; and it is likewise profitable against the Apoplexy, Epilepsie, Palsie, Vertigo, and other like Diseases of the Head and Brain, which it performs by a Specifick Virtue, which it has in attracting or drawing away Flegm, and Rheumatick Humors which oppress and afflict those parts. It may be also used as an Errhine up the Nostrils, by which way also it purges the Head and Brain admirably, evacuating all such Superfluous Humors, which cause Lethargies, Megrims, Headach, or any of the aforenamed Diseases afflicting those parts.

XIV. The Essence. It has all the Virtues of the aforementioned Juice, and may be given from half an ounce to an ounce, more or less, according to the age and strength of the Patient. It is a peculiar thing against the Dropsie, Kings-Evil, Rheumatisms, and Gout; but it purges with great Violence, troubling the Stomach, so that it works both upwards and downwards, and therefore according to the Opinion of Authors, it ought to be corrected with Ginger, Cinnamon, Winters Cinnamon, Nutmegs, Cloves, Pepper, Juice of Quinces, &c. It is very profitable against Watry Humors, which it evacuates abundantly, both by Vomit and Stool, and therefore is a peculiar thing against the Dropsie, &c. It may be mixed with White Port Wine, and so drank. It opens Obstructions of the Urinary parts, provokes Urine, and cleanses the Reins and Ureters from Sand, Gravel, Slime, and other Viscous and Tartarous Matters apt to be lodged in those parts. It opens Obstructions of the Spleen, and takes away the hardness and swelling thereof. It is good (being outwardly applied) to cleanse the Skin of Scurf, Morphew, Leprosie, Scabs, Itch, Manginess, Herpes, Tettars, Ring-worms, Freckles, Lentils, black and blew Spots, which come from falls, bruises, and the like, and dissolves new Swellings, and expells the dead Child.

XV. The Decoction of the Root in Wine. It has all the Virtues of the Essence, but not full out so powerful, and therefore ought to be given in a larger Dose, as from one ounce to two, three, or four, according to age and strength. It is an excellent thing against Hysterick Fits, and Vapors in Women, for it opens Obstructions of the Womb powerfully, and facilitates the birth of Women in Travel, but you ought to be sure the time is near, left it do mischief; let it be corrected with hot Spices in the making, as before directed, because they also promote this end.

XVI. The Syrup. It may be made either of the Juice, Essence, or Decoction according to which, it will be of more or less strength. It has all the Virtues of those things of which it is made, but not altogether so effectual, because of its being clogged with such a quantity of Honey or Sugar, which is necessary to bring it into a Syrup. But it is better for Women and Children, and Quaesie Stomachs, because of its pleasantness in taking. It is good against Coughs, Colds, shortness of Breath, Asthma's, and kills Worms in the Body: Dose, one, two, or three ounces in a Glass of Wine.

XVII. The Pouder of the Root. It has the Virtues of the Juice and Essence, but is thought to work stronger: being taken in White Port Wine, from a scruple to a dram, it is good against the bitings of Venomous Creatures, and kills Worms in Children prevails against the Gout, Rheumatism, Dropsie, and King's-Evil, and provokes the Terms in Women, but it ought not to be given to Women with Child, because it may induce miscarriage or Abortion. If it is thus compounded, it becomes a famous Medicament. Rx Bryonie Root in fine pouder a pound: Scammony twelve ounces : Cambogium in pouder eight ounces: Liquorice in pouder six ounces: Aurum Vitae four ounces: mix all together. Dose from sixteen Grains to half a Dram. It is a famous thing for the cure of the Gout, Sciatica, Rheumatism, Dropsie, Jaundice, and King's-Evil Where a Rheumatism has been so vehement that the Patient has roared out Night and Day with the Vehemency and Extremity of the pain, and has lain Bedrid for two whole Years together, not being able to use Hand or Foot, or in the least help themselves, not so much as to put their Hand to their Mouths; this Medicament, or Composition, being given but five or six times, has perfectly restored them, beyond all expectation. I commend it against a Rheumatism, as a Composition which has no equal in the whole Republick of Medicine.

XVIII. The Electuary. Rx Pouder of Bryonie Roots, four ounces: Scammony in pouder, Liquorice in pouder, of each two ounces: Cloves, Ginger, in pouder, of each one ounce: Nutmegs in pouder, Zedoary, of each half an ounce: Tartar vitriolate two ounces and half: Honey clarified, thirty six ounces: mix and make an Electuary. It cures the Scurvy, Dropsie, and Gout; and is an admirable thing against the King's-Evil: It produces the Terms in Women, and expels the Dead Child; and cleanses the Stomach, and other Bowels, of Cold, Raw, Windy, Slimy, Tartarous and Griping Humors: Dose, in a Bolus, from one dram to two drams in the Morning fasting.

XIX. The Foecula. It has the Virtues of the Juice and Essence, but not altogether so violent; it may be given, say Authors, from five to ten grains but in strong Bodies you may give it from ten grains to twenty: mix it with Honey, the Pulp of a Prune or Roasted Apple, or some such like substance, and so let it be taken in the Morning: being mixed with the Distilled Water or Essence, or any other proper Wash, it cleanses the Skin, and takes away Wrinkles, Freckles, Lentils, Spots, black and blew Marks, Tanning, Sun-burning, and the like; let it be bid upon the Skin, and suffered to dry on.

XX. The Pessary. It is made of the solid substance of the Root: being put to the Womb, it provokes the Terms in Women, opens Obstructions of the Womb, and educes both Birth and After-birth, as also the Dead Child.

XXI. The Saline Tincture. Taken inwardly to a dram, or more, in some proper Liquor, it provokes the Terms, and facilitates the Birth: and outwardly applied, it removes all the Vices and Deformities of the Skin, as effectually as either Essence or Foecula. You must wash therewith, and fuller it to dry on, repeating it several times a day, if the Disease is inveterate.

XXII. The Bath of the Root and whole Plant. It is peculiar against all external Defaedations of the Skin as also to open Obstructions of the Womb, and educe the Terms, and to cleanse it from all other Recrements of Humors, the Patient fitting for some time therein, and repeating it, if need be.

XXIII. The Cataplasm of the Root. Being bruised and applied Cataplasm-wife to any place-where Bones are broken, it helps to draw them forth: and being mixt with a little Wine, and applied, it breaks Boils, and draws forth Pushes, and is good against Felons and Whitloes, which infect the fingers ends, and Roots of the Nails. It is also good to cleanse the Skin from Morphew, Leprosie, Scabs and Manginess.

XXIV. The Oil or Ointment. It is made by boiling the bruised Root in Oil Olive, or Hogs-Lard, or Oil mixt with Beef or Mutton. Suet, &c. they being anointed with it, dissolve or discusses recent Tumors, help Contusions, and take away black and blew Marks which come from blows or falls; and withal remove most of the other deformities of the Skin, if applied for some reasonable time.


Botanologia, or The English Herbal, was written by William Salmon, M.D., in 1710.
This chapter has been proofread by Nick Jones.



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