C. M. Boger, M. D.
Bryonia belongs to the Cucurbitaceae or natural order of gourds, which includes the melon, pumpkin, squash, cucumber, Colocynth and Elaterium; the latter is one of the cucumbers. Many of the group are drastic purgatives, their action being associated with violent colics, diuresis or fever, as the case may be, more remarkable in that both are running and climbing, tortuous cynth, Jalap, Ipomea and Cucumis illustrate this, although the curative actin of the latter is not yet proved.
Bryonia was mentioned in very early times for the cure of diverse diseases, but it remained for Hahnemann to accurately define its action. Since then it has been classed among the polychrests.
The most striking thing about a Bryonia patient is his dislike of exertion and motion; not because he is lazy, but for the reason that quiet is more agreeable and cases his sufferings. Every motion, be it ever so light, causes discomfort, hence he strives to guard against it. Even the movement of a distant part may aggravate the pain, so pronounced is this modality. Turning the eyes during a headache increases its intensity, swallowing makes the sticking in the throat worse, the diarrhoea is excited as soon as he begins to move about, etc., If he is ever restless it is most likely to when he is too hot.
Conversely he feels himself better from pressure and immobilizing the affected part. The case from pressure is very important and should call to our mind its relationship to Colocynth. If the pain is in the head or trunk he may obtain some relief by lying on the affected part, pressing upon it with his hand or holding back his breath, in this way partially limiting its motion. Holding the breath often causes him to grunt or groan. The Bryonia patient is a great groaner, anyway.
The act of coughing is another form of violent motion which is very distressing, particularly in the presence of headache, pleurisy, peritonitis, rheumatism, etc. In abdominal inflammations the knees are generally drawn up for a like reason.
The movement of raising up from a sitting or lying posture disturbs the cerebral circulation and induces a sense of faintness. This is a very great characteristic, although many pains are also aggravated by the same form of motion. Stooping is only a variation of the same thing and is almost equally important.
The provers speak of bursting, splitting, out-pressing or tightening pains; simply different ways of saying that the parts seem distended or over-full. The pulse also is full, quick and tense. The affected parts are evidently engorged. There is all-pervading tension and lack of flexibility which even involves the mental sphere.
Stitching is the most pronounced form of pain, and from its very nature acts as an impediment of motion. There are also shooting and tearing pains which cause the patient to start. After the pain ceases the parts sometimes tremble. Many pains go from before backward; this is especially true of the head pains. Some are the initial step of what finally turns out to be an inflammation with heat redness and swelling.
From this you will readily perceive that Bryonia preferably acts upon the tissues in which stitch like and tensive pains predominate; within the confines of the serous membranes the indications for its use are most frequently met.
Dryness is a great feature. The text says “Dryness of parts usually moist,” evidently meaning the mucous membranes, but its action is far more general than that, for there is no universal inclination to relaxation or moisture. The secretions are scanty to the last degree; it is especially noticeable in the mouth, but judged by its symptoms the whole digestive tract is in a similar state, for coarse or dry foods such as cabbage or bread seem to lie like an oppressive load in the stomach, where they undergo decomposition giving rise to rancid eructations or are passed in the form of burning stools having a putrid or decayed cheese odor. If constipation persists the stools conform to the general character of the remedy and remain dry, hard, dark and often too large.
The fever symptoms are of the zygotic type and seem to point to the presence of toxins in the blood. A form of auto-intoxication prevails.
Congestion to various parts, particularly the head, nose (nosebleed), face flushed (deep red), or the liver are the most decided phases of its action upon the circulatory system.
The chills are accompanied by paleness of the face (Cina), great thirst and burning about the head. They are made worse by exertion and the heat of the room. A peculiar symptom is a sense of coldness in the ulcers.
The heat is prolonged, dry and burning, seemingly more intense in certain parts such as the cheeks, abdomen, mammae, joints, etc. It carries with it a sense of mental confusion and during the delirium or sleep thereof the patient’s mind is apt to dwell upon his business or he expresses a desire to go home. There is also vertigo made worse brainwashing up, great thirst, anxious or oppressed breathing and a sense of soreness in some part.
The sweats are profuse sour or oily and debilitation, but bring relief. They are worse in the cold air, on closing the eyes and from the exertion of walking. With the sweat there is mental obtrusion, restlessness, oppressed breathing and urging to urinate.
Such conditions present themselves in typhoid, catarrhal, rheumatic, pneumonic and other fevers leading to surmise that intolerance of heat is a prominent accompaniment of its action. Anything that tends to heat up thee patient, such as walking rapidly, ascending a height, exposure to the heat of the sun or a fire, eating hot food, etc., will increase the suffering of a Bryonia patient. Even the chills are worse in warm room. Any sudden cooling off while overheated likewise has a bad effect, as it causes him to take cold, a thing which he easily does under certain circumstances.
It affects the right side of the body more pronouncedly than the left. The right lower chest and liver are especial points of attack. There are numerous so called bilious symptoms. The ileo-caecal region comes very powerfully under its influence, so much so that its utility in appendicitis and typhoid fever, when indicated, is past discussion. The chills are also sometimes right sided.
Many kinds of swelling, either localized or general, occur. Most of them are hot, dry and burning, but sometimes they are pale, dropsical or show a diffused hardness, as in phlegmasia dolens. The skin, in febrile affections, is inactive and burns; often it fails to develop the accompanying exanthem. Then again the eruption may appear tardily or not at all and we know that we have a severe case to deal with; however if the symptoms and modalities agree Bryonia will afford speedy relief. Vicarious discharge resulting from suppression somewhere are a feature; vicarious menstruation is an example (Senecio).
The mental state is a striking reflex of the physical condition and shows that the action of Bryonia is not composed of disjointed and discordant elements, but on the other hand is harmonious throughout. Until we can grasp a remedy and comprehend its “unity in diversity,” so to speak, we do not understand it.
The Bryonia patient resents interference and dosen’t want to be bothered. He is inclined to anger; everything puts him out of humor and irritates him. He is often low-spirited, homesick, or solicitous of the future. There is withal a certain cloudiness of mind with difficult ideation which gradually passes into a delirium in which pictures of the day’s duties or home continually flit before the imagination. The mental symptoms are worse on closing the eyes and often disappear as the physical sufferings come on or increase.
Symptomatically Rhus toxicodenron is the nearest similar, but the modalities are just opposite. Under conditions Pulsatilla is more nearly like Bryonia than any other drug. The febrile manifestations are quite like those of Sulphur which is very likely to come in and finish the work begun by the former.
In especial cases we compare Asclepias tuberosa and Scilla.
For review we have:
- Symptoms arising or made worse from motion of every sort, even of a distant part. Averse to being moved, especially to being raised up, it causes faintness. Coughing is particularly painful, it may hurt the head, chest or any part. Deep breathing hurts. Quiet rest is a great help.
- External pressure relieves. Tight gandages feel good.
- Intolerance of all kinds of heat or of becoming heated, especially by the sun, near a fire, from ironing, running etc. Hot rooms aggravate.
- Stitching pains, which impede motion. Bursting, splittiong, distensive pains mostly referred to the cavities of the body.
- Dryness. Tendency to scanty secretion. Dry stools.
- A right sided remedy. Liver. Ileo-caecal region. Larger joints. Bilious symptioms.
- Suppressed or undeveloped diseases. Vicarious manifestations.
- Inflammations or congestion of internal parts. Many kinds of fever; especially with a dry skin, burning heat and a full, quick, tense pulse.
- Effects of eating fruit, bread, legumes, sour-crout, etc.
- Beclouded mind. Disposition to angriness. Home-sickness. Worries over the day’s work in his dilirium or when dreaming.