Bryonia alba Generalities: Every medicine has a sphere of action, a peculiar nature whereby it differs from all other medicines, and hence it becomes suitable to complaints of one class and not suitable to those of another.
It is like the nature of human beings, as they differ from each other, and also like the nature of diseases, which differ from each other in character.
We study a remedy also in regard to its velocity and continuance, its remittence or intermittence.
The symptoms of some remedies come on suddenly, with great violence, with great rapidity, stay but a short time in their paroxysm, and go off as it nothing had happened.
Others come on slowly, are deep acting and continuous, like the continued fevers. We notice the complaints of Ignatia, how flitting and intermittent and unexpected everything is; we notice in Aconite how complaints come on with violence, and in Belladonna with what suddenness they come on.
When we come to the study of Bryonia alba, we find it is a most persistent remedy; its complaints develop slowly, i.e., slowly for acute conditions.
Its complaints are continuous, remittent, and only occasionally intermittent.
They increase into violence, but the violence is not the first flash as in Aconite or Belladonna, and hence it conforms to a type of disease with continued fever; to rheumatisms that come with gradually increasing severity, gradually increasing and involving one joint after another, until all the white fibrous tissues are in a state of inflammation, pain and distress.
It has inflammatory conditions anywhere about the body, but particularly of the fibrous tissues, serous membranes, ligaments of joints and aponeuroses. It also affects the coating of nerves with its congestions, and these gradually increase in severity.
From the beginning there are present the characteristic features, and it may be seen that this patient is coming down with a Bryonia sickness.
The patient has several days of preparation. He does not feel very well, is languid and tired, does not want to be spoken to, does not want to move, and this gradually increases; pains begin to flit over the body, they move around here and there over the fibres in one place and another, and every time he moves the pain increase, until they end in a steady and continuous pain. The parts become hot and inflamed, and at last he is down with rheumatism.
The complaints come on after taking cold, not the first few hours, as in Aconite or Bell., but the day after an exposure he begins to feel uneasy and he sneezes and the nose discharges, there is rawness in the chest, and in a day or so he has a chill and comes down with some inflammatory trouble, pneumonia or pleurisy.
Its inflammatory complaints include inflammation of the membranes of the brain, sometimes extending, into the cord; the pleural membranes, the peritoneum and the heart covering, these are the most common; it also has inflammation of organs.
When these conditions come on there is noticed, very early in the case, even before the pains begin, an aversion to motion, and the patient does not know why, but finally he observes that his symptoms are made worse if he has to move, so that the slightest inclination to move is resisted with a feeling of anger, and when he does move he finds he is aroused to great suffering, and that all the aches and pains of the body come on.
Thus we have the well-known Bryonia alba aggravation from motion. This runs all through the remedy.
This medicine is suitable in a great many diseases, diseases of a typhoid nature, diseases that take on a symptomatic typhoid, diseases that start out as remittents and run into a continued fever, as in pneumonia, pleurisy, inflammation of the liver, of glands, of the bowels, etc.
It may be a gastro-enteritis or peritonitis, or inflammation of the bowels, with the sensitiveness, the aggravation from motion and the desire to keep perfectly still. Inflammation of joints, whether of rheumatic character or not, whether from cold, exposure or injury.
Bryonia alba is often indicated in injuries of joints where Arnica would be a failure.
There is an extreme state of irritability in Bryonia; every word which compels him to answer a question or to think will aggravate him.
The effort to talk will be attended with horror. At the beginning of complaints you go to the bedside of a patient who has been grumbling a few days; something is evidently coming on; the family meet you at the door and say,
“The patient is almost unconscious;”
you look at him, the face is puffed and purplish, he seems to be dazed, there appears to be a short of venous stasis all over the body, but especially about the face; his countenance is almost that of an imbecile, yet he is perfectly capable of talking, although he has an aversion to it and appears to outsiders to ignore everything that is said.
This sometimes comes on apparently in a short time; the patient awakens in the morning with a dull, congestive headache and a stupid feeling in the head; dulness of mind so that he cannot work, and this feeling gradually increases; such a state is sometimes the forerunner of a serious illness.
We find, when a pneumonia or inflammation of the liver, or some slow insidious inflammation is coming on somewhere in the body, but not yet located, that this state will begin in the morning.
This is peculiar about the aggravation of Bryonia – its troubles commence many times early in the morning. On waking, with the first move, he realizes that things are not all right, there is a state of stupidity bordering on unconsciousness.
Those who have been grumbling for a week or ten days wake up in the morning feeling miserable, some time that night or the next day they have to send for the doctor. If this is watched for a few days, a continued fever is observed.
Or at night a chill will come on, with much pain in the chest, rusty expectoration, short, dry cough and other symptoms that will be spoken of under Bryonia later, showing that the trouble is going towards the chest; or the condition may gradually increase as a congestive, dull headache.
This will be seen when congestion of the brain is coming on. Bryonia sickness often picks out plethoric subjects, those who are venous in their make up, those who, when suffering with cold, come down with catarrhal congestions.
Catarrhal fever may be covered by Bryonia alba.
Mind: This sluggish state of the mind then is the state of Bryonia, not an excitable state, as in Coffea, Nux vomica, Ignatia, but sluggish aggravated from motion, aggravated from being talked to; wants to lie still in bed; very great irritability, which is as extreme as that found in Nux or Chamomilla.
It also has acute complaints aggravated from anger, from being aroused, from being disturbed, from controversy. Following the early sluggishness, there is later a state of complete stupefaction in Bryonia, in which he becomes quite unconscious, as in typhoid.
He goes from a state of partial unconsciousness to one of complete unconsciousness, as in hydrocephalic children.
In rheumatic complaints, in pneumonia, and in typhoid conditions, when he is aroused from this stage of stupefaction he is confused, sees images, thinks he is away from home and wants to be taken home.
Sometimes he will lie and say nothing but that he “wants to go home.”
The delirium is of a low type; it is not the flashing wild excitement of Belladonna or Stram.; it is the very opposite; he talks and wanders and does not say much unless he is disturbed. You disturb him and lie says,
“Go away and let me go home,” and if you let him alone he will relapse into a perfectly quiet state and seldom speak.
“Irrational talk or prattle of his business, aggravated after 3 P.M.”
Usually you will find the delirium commencing about 9 P.M., and keeping up all night like the fever.
The acute mental state you will find manifesting its symptoms on rising in the morning, but as the febrile state advances and takes possession of him the symptoms will take on a 9 P.M. aggravation; those who have chill will have it at 9 P.M.; in those who have a fever, the fever will come at 9 P.M.
If mental symptoms are uppermost they increase and spread over the night. It has a 3 P- M aggravation. Belladonna will begin at 3 and run on towards midnight, but Bryonia will begin at 9 P.M. and run on through the night.
The aggravation of the Chamomilla patients, who are also extremely irritable, is at 9 A.M. Sometimes we go to the bedside and can hardly distinguish between Bryonia and Cham. because they are both so spunky, but the Chamomilla baby is worse at 9 A.M. and the Bryonia alba baby is worse at 9 P.M.
in Bryonia there is a key-note which really applies to a dozen or more remedies,
“he wants something and he knows not what.”
It is a very important symptom of Bryonia. It is a symptom that calls for Bryonia only when the rest of the symptoms agree. You go to a child who is being carried in the arms of the nurse and wants one toy after another; you get the toy he wants and he does not want it and will throw it back at you.