Bryonia. Bryonia alba.

Botanical name: 


Bryonin, Starch, Gum, Sugar, Albumen, Wax, Fat and various Salts.
Tinctura Bryoniae, Tincture of Bryonia. Dose, from one to five minims.
Specific Medicine Bryonia. Dose, from one-tenth to two minims.

Physiological Action—In large doses bryonia is an active hydragogue cathartic and sometimes causes inflammation of the stomach and bowels. In poisonous doses it causes a fall of temperature, dizziness, delirium, weak pulse, cold perspiration, dilated pupils and other evidences of a depressing action on the nervous system. The recent root is highly irritant when locally applied, and capable of producing, vesication. The results from laboratory observations of this agent do not to any degree suggest its clinical adaptions. These have been deter-mined by the closest of clinical observation.

Specific Symptomatology—The following symptoms demand the use of bryonia: Distress or pain in acute inflammatory disease, which is aggravated by movement increased by pressure; elevated temperature, with hard, frequent, vibratile pulse; the muscular structures sore and tender, as if bruised; acute lung or bronchial disorders, with no expectoration, dry cough, short and harsh, or hacking, with soreness increased by coughing; flushed right cheek frontal pain extending to the basilar region; irritating cough.

Again: Sharp, cutting, lancinating or tearing pain from serous inflammation; increased muscular tension, and tenderness on pressure, aggravated by motion; headache on the right side; inflamed lung structure, with pain and soreness relieved by lying on the inflamed side, usually with a bright spot on one cheek. Chronic soreness in the chest, without fever, with harsh, dry, sharp cough. With this latter indication its influence is often enhanced by alternation with small doses of belladonna.

Bryonia promotes the elimination of heat, and like aconite, it opposes the dryness of the mucous membranes induced by inflammation which suspends secretion. It acts upon all serous membranes directly as stated. It also acts upon the viscera covered by these membranes. It is thus valuable in enteritis, in the inflammation of the glandular organs, and in pulmonary and bronchial inflammations, always looking for its precise indications—tenderness on pressure, tiny shooting pains, or pain increased by motion.

The absorption of inflammatory products, either of a serous or sanguineous character, is greatly facilitated by this remedy. It opposes the breaking down of tissue and pus formation. Its influence upon inflammatory processes and upon the results of inflammation is even more positive in certain cases than aconite.

TherapyBryonia is a remedy of great value in the treatment of all acute inflammations of the thoracic viscera or of the pleura. In pleuritis its indications are usually all present. Uncomplicated cases will yield to this agent alone. Occasionally, though, more rapid results will be accomplished by alternating it with aconite or with asclepias tuberosa. It must be continued if effusion be present.

One physician, in two cases of pleurisy where there was at least a pint of serum in the pleural sac of each, gave bryonia alone, and persistently using it for a reasonable time, the entire quantity in both cases was absorbed, and the patient made an excellent recovery.

In bronchitis, with short, quick cough, with quick, sharp pains, especially if the sputum be bloody or frothy, bryonia acts directly. It should be given in small doses, at short intervals, and should be persisted in. It will subdue the pain and the cough promptly and exercise as marked an effect on the fever as any special sedative known.

In pneumonitis it may be positively indicated. If used in combination with other specific remedies, abatement of the symptoms will be even more rapid in these cases. Although opposed to complex medication, the author has used the following combination in these conditions in infants and children with the most happy results. The two prescriptions should be given as specifled in alternation. In severe cases in small children, or during severe paroxysms, it is very desirable to give a yet smaller dose and alternate the remedies every twenty or thirty minutes:

Rx— Tinct. Aconiti, U. S. P. 5 drops
Tinct. Belladonnae, U. S. P. 8 drops
Aquae Dest. 32 ounces
M. Sig. Half of a teaspoonful every hour, alternated with the following prescription every half hour:
Rx— Tinct. Bryoniae 8 drops
Tinct. Ipecacuanhae 4 drops
Aquae Dest. 32 ounces
M. Sig. Half teaspoonful every hour, alternated with the above as stated, every half hour.

I have in late years been using bryonia in acute neuritis. I have found in many cases the precise indications for the use of this remedy, and in one exceedingly bad case, I got excellent results, indeed, but I combined it with Mag. Phos. 3x, though the indications for bryonia alone were very plain.

Dr. Henderson specifies a form of neuralgia of the face, usually on the right side caused by cold or from a draft with dull pain and stiffness or tenderness of the muscles, especially if there should be a sharp catch under the right shoulder or in the right side increased by inspiration as immediately relieved by a combination of bryonia and sticta, ten drops of each in four ounces of water, a teaspoonful every half hour.

Bryonia controls the temperature and the fever processes, when the exact indications are present, as positively as any of the other known special sedatives.

Synovitis with sharp pains on motion wherever located, demands bryonia, and rheumatic conditions, where the distress is increased by movement, with sudden, sharp pains, especially where there is acute rheumatic swelling of the finger joints, it is demanded. The fevers of infancy, where movement causes pain, evidenced by sharp, crying out; inflammation of any organ, accompanied with sharp stabbing pain or stitches, a sensation of fullness and deep soreness are controlled by it.

In protracted fevers, with dry mucous membranes, cracked lips, excessive thirst; constipation, with hard, dry stools; scanty urine, with dark color and high specific gravity, bryonia should be given, and in asthenic fevers the remedy in small doses may be persisted in, with no depressing influence upon the patient.

In chronic disorders of the liver or spleen, with deep-seated soreness and quick, shooting pains, especially if there be some elevation of the temperature, it will produce the best of results.

It should invariably be used in acute appendicitis from the appearance of the first indications. I am convinced that we have no more important or efficient remedy than this in this disorder. It will save many operations if given early.

In a most obscure case, in consultation at one time, I discovered extreme tenderness on pressure over the pancreas—little shooting pains—pain increased by motion, the patient lying immovable on the back, temperature of 101 ½ degrees. I diagnosed acute pancreatitis. The patient was certainly near death. The persistent use of bryonia relieved every condition in a satisfactory manner, causing me to conclude that the diagnosis was correct, and that we had prevented the formation of pus by the prompt use of this remedy. When these indications pointing to the pancreas are present in diabetes, this remedy should be given.

Dr. Jones says that bryonia is the remedy for inflammation of the mammary glands when those glands are of stony hardness, pale, hot, painful and sore, when they must be supported. He says that it is a remedy for headache when it is of a bursting character, as if the head would split, worse on movement or on stooping over, relieved by lying still. He has found where a patient suffers from nose bleed at the time of menstruation, that bryonia, given in small doses, will restore the normal condition.

I am so confident of the action of this remedy in cough, especially in children, that with many patients suffering from no other trouble but a dry, hacking, persistent cough with or without some irritation and soreness, I am apt to give bryonia as the first remedy, or I combine it with any other simple, directly-indicated remedy.

Auxiliary measures should be adopted as the character of the case suggests.

In peritonitis with quick, sharp pains, flushed face and anxious countenance, bryonia is indicated. This agent, in mild cases, will subdue all the inflammatory processes and control the pain satisfactorily without opium

During the early stages of any inflammation in which bryonia seems to be indicated, aconite will facilitate its action and assist in the control of the processes, but bryonia can be continued to most excellent advantage when the results of inflammation are extreme, and weakness and prostration are present, when aconite might have a depressing effect and be contra-indicated.

In acute pericarditis and endocarditis the specific indications for this agent are often present, and its influence is prompt. It will be of great service if there is effusion with evidences of decreasing power of the heart.

In acute rheumatic inflammation of the heart or pericardium it is one of the most direct remedies. Properly combined with indicated auxiliary measures, no remedy will act more satisfactorily:

It is of much value in typhoid conditions, especially in typhoid pneumonia or in pleuropneumonia or broncho-pneumonia with typhoid complications. In typhoid fever with severe enteric symptoms this agent is often of great service in restraining the retrograde processes and controlling excessive temperature. In septic fevers its influence will be marked and valuable. In septic peritonitis it may be given alternately with aconite, or aconite and echinacea, the latter remedy directly controlling the sepsis.

Bryonia is indicated in rheumatic fever and in acute rheumatic arthritis. It must be given as in other acute conditions, in small doses frequently repeated. In muscular rheumatism and in rheumatic muscular pains it will accomplish good results if given in conjunction with cimicifuga or alternated with cimicifuga and aconite. In acute rheumatism of the joints of the fingers or hand, it seems to be of value.

Because of its direct action on serous membranes, a few years ago I was led, from the extreme tenderness and pain on pressure, to prescribe bryonia for spinal tenderness. I immediately found that I had made the important discovery of one of the best remedies with which to relieve that serious condition. Indications for other remedies will suggest their combination in some cases, especially when this condition is present during pregnancy.

In mastitis or orchitis it is useful, and if the fever be high, the pains sharp and cutting and the face flushed, the influence will be prompt, indeed. In these cases, it is seldom given alone, but usually with aconite, phytolacca or other direct remedies.

The American Materia Medica, Therapeutics and Pharmacognosy, 1919, was written by Finley Ellingwood, M.D.
It was scanned by Michael Moore for the Southwest School of Botanical Medicine.