WHITE BRYONIA- WILD HOPS.
“Our entire knowledge,” says Dunham, “of the action of Bryonia on the healthy human subject is derived from the proving by Hahnemann and six of his pupils, and from the Austrian provings.”
While Bryonia is hardly considered by the old school authors of to-day (it has been excluded from their last pharmacopoeia, 1905), with homoeopaths it is a great and extremely important remedy.
If you will question the first ten or the fist hundred physicians of our school that you happened to meet, as to the half-dozen remedies that they find the most frequent call for, I believe that you will find Bryonia on each and every list.
To be so universally used upon “all sorts and conditions of men” it must have an extensive pathogenesis covering a large part of the human system, and all that we will attempt to do here will be to give a general picture of the remedy, along with some of its principal symptoms, and then let you, each day of your medical life, learn new symptoms and new indications for its use.
Bryonia causes inflammation of various organs, but it seems to have an especial affinity for the lungs and serous membranes. It produces pains that are cutting, knife-like or stabbing in character, and its marked peculiarity is not only a disinclination to make any effort but great aggravation of the pains from motion of any kind; even the moving of the eyes will aggravate the headache and any but the shallowest breathing will be arrested by the chest pains.
Besides this aggravation, the patient is apt to be worse in the morning, and after eating.
There is relief from rest, external heat, lying on the affected side, or binding the part up to keep it from moving.
The seat of the Bryonia pains subsequently becomes sore and sensitive to touch.
There is great thirst in BRYONIA for long drinks and the patients usually prefer them cold. With fevers calling for this remedy there is more or less perspiration.
Bryonia is especially suitable to the rheumatic diathesis; to persons with a bilious tendency, black hair and dark complexion.
Mentally the patient is ill-humored and taciturn, while in delirium, as found in fevers especially, he talks about his daily business and has a desire to get out of bed so that he may attend to his work.
Vertigo is a common accompaniment of the Bryonia condition and it is worse in the morning on rising up in, or from bed, or from a chair, with a feeling as if the head were turning in a circle.
The headaches of Bryonia are severe, are all worse from motion(96), from stooping (98) and from coughing (95). They are apt to begin in the morning on first opening the eyes or on rising, and moving the eyes will start or aggravate the pain (96). The headaches either begin in the forehead or occiput and are apt to finally become seated in the occiput (100).
With every motion it seems as if the head would burst (104), and pressing with both hands against the forehead and temples, or binding the head up tightly relieves (92).
It will help one when differentiating between this and other remedies having similar conditions of aggravation and amelioration, to remember that the headaches of Bryonia are rarely neuralgic, but are usually associated with gastric disorders (97) or with inflammatory affections, and that thirst, coated tongue and bitter taste (186) are the usual accompaniments.
In the eye Bryonia is to be thought of in “rheumatic iritis (74) caused by cold” (Hering), as well as in choroiditis and glaucoma, the eyeball sore and very painful to touch, the pains extending to the back of the head.
In the nose we have epistaxis, the result of vicarious menstruation (138), the bleeding occurring regularly every day, especially in the morning after rising.
The lips mouth and throat are dry in Bryonia and the tongue, in fevers, is dry and rough, while in gastric disorders it has a heavy white or yellow coating. The prevailing taste is bitter (186) and as a rule the patient will not breath about the bush in describing the Bryonia taste, but will say bitter and stick to that one word. Thirst usually accompanies the Bryonia conditions and it is for large quantities of cold water.
In gastric derangements, besides thirst, we have bitter taste, coated tongue, nausea and may be vomiting, and sensitiveness of the epigastric region to touch.
It is useful in dyspepsia, worse from warm drinks (178) which are vomited, as well as in those cases where the food seems to lie like a lump or load in the stomach (179), with the resulting soreness. It is also to be thought of in gastric disorders, which recur in people who have been in the habit of taking mercury; and while Allen gives the following symptom as noticed in such people, I have found it very frequently in those who are subject to attacks of so-called bilious headache, with the accompanying nausea and vomiting; the symptom reads that “the attacks are preceded by great hunger” and for a day or two the patient eats an amount and a variety that at other times he could be afraid to even think of. So frequently is this condition of great hunger followed by a bilious attack, that the patient’s family attribute it to the injudicious eating and warn him to restrain his appetite if he would avoid “one of his spells.”
If Bryonia is taken at this time of increased hunger, it will often ward off an attack and then if the remedy is continued regularly, it will cure the condition as far as the patient’s habits will allow.
Bryonia is very useful in disorders of the liver, including inflammations, specially when associated with constipation, the stools large, hard (35) and dry, and with little or no inclination for a movement. In liver troubles we have sharp, knife-like pains, greatly worse from motion and better from heat, pressure and lying on the r. side (8).
It is frequently indicated in peritonitis and appendicitis, with the sharp, cutting pains, aggravated by motion or breathing, and better from heat and when lying on the back with the thighs flexed. Do not forget that the parts affected become very sensitive (12) and sore to the touch and that notwithstanding the fever there is more or less perspiration, or at least moisture of the skin.
In diarrhoea calling for Bryonia, the stool is dark and more or less offensive, “smelling like old cheese.” It is brought on by hot weather (57), or whenever the weather suddenly becomes warmer. The diarrhoea is also caused by, or is worse from, cold drinks (57), or from eating fruit (57) or vegetables. It is a remedy to be thought of in diarrhoea due to suppressed eruptions or occurring during typhoid fever.
The diarrhoea is worse in the morning and from motion (58). If they lie perfectly still in the morning when they waken they are all right, but let them move around or get up out of bed and they will have to suspend dressing until a more convenient season.
In suppression of the menses we can think of Bryonia either with the accompanying gastric symptoms, or with vicarious menstruation (138). It is useful in inflammation of the ovaries, with soreness to the touch (148), and in the early stage of puerperal fever (155).
It is a remedy frequently called for in mastitis (22), the breasts being swollen and tender, and with characteristic pains, better from heat and from moderately tight bandaging.
The cough of Bryonia is dry and causes pain in the trachea; it causes severe headache (51), with grasping of the head with both hands, or it causes stitches in the chest (49), with necessity to hold the chest while coughing (49). We may have a cough that seems to come from low down in the chest, or as though it started from the stomach (44), and if the cough has lasted long enough, we find that the abdominal muscles have become sore from the strain of coughing. The cough is worse from motion, after eating (41) or drinking (41) and on coming into a warm room from the outside air (41); it is better from heat (40), or after being in a warm room.
It is difficult to say, when speaking of a remedy like Bryonia, in what particular class of cases its chief renown lies, but it is safe to say that many a life has been saved by means of this drug in the treatment of croupous pneumonia.
It is probably the most frequently indicated remedy in pneumonia that we have and it is especially useful in the early stage (150), it following directly after the Aconite condition has passed; when the restlessness has been superseded by the quiet, afraid-to-move-for-fear-it-will-hurt stage; when the dry skin has changed to a moist one, or perhaps a decided perspiration although the fever is just as high; when the pains are sharp and cutting, with relief from lying on the affected side.
As in pneumonia, so it is in pleurisy (150), whether alone or complicating pneumonia, and I doubt if all our remedies put together are as frequently called for as is Bryonia.
When prescribing for a disease I like to look upon it as on a person who speaks a language different from my native tongue and who finds himself in trouble in my own country. Now the more that I know of disease language, including its idioms and slang terms, the easier it will be for me to interpret any peculiar expressions that it may make use of, and if in addition I have had the advantage of travel in its country, that is, have known the patient in his home life and in health, the greater will be the probability of my giving the relief that is asked for.
It will not be difficult to understand pleurisy when it wants Bryonia and if it cannot speak it will make signs.
There will be the fever, with the moist kin and the pronounced thirst; the breathing will be shallow on account of the sharp, knife-like pains that cut short any attempt to take a deep inspiration and the patient will not only press with the hands on the affected side, but will also lie on that side, so as to prevent, as much as possible, any motion between the two pleural surfaces. The patient will also find that heat will give great relief. Bryonia may prove useful later in the disease, with pleuritic exudations (150), provided the sharp pains continue.
In pericarditis and endocarditis it is frequently called for, with the same train of symptoms as found in other inflammatory conditions.
Bryonia is useful in lumbago, but it is especially in articular rheumatism that you will find it indicated. The larger joints (161) are particularly apt to be affected and while the pains may shift, or jump from one place to another, leaving the first free from pain, they are more likely to travel, or to involve additional joints, with more or less pain remaining in the part first affected. We have swelling, heat, and shining redness of the joint, with relief from heat or hot applications and great aggravation of the pains from even the slightest motion.
Once more let me impress upon you, that in all forms of rheumatism, acute, chronic, muscular or articular, profuse perspiration would be an additional indication for Bryonia.
It is a remedy very useful in fevers and febrile conditions which are the accompaniment of inflammatory processes in various tissues and organs.
It will be found of value in scarlet fever (130) and especially so in measles (130), when the eruption either does not develop or shows a tendency to recede, as well as in meningitis from suppressed eruptions.
In typhoid fever you will find frequent use for it, especially in the beginning and early stages of the disease, with the severe headache and vertigo, more or less delirium usually mild in character, thirst and abdominal tenderness. The non- restless type of typhoid (193).
In intermittent fever, while there is no particular time that is characteristic for the onset of the paroxysm, we would have great thirst during the chill (121) and additional thirst during the fever and a general apathetic condition throughout the entire paroxysm. We may have painful cough during the chill and fever (H. C. Allen) and during the fever we would be apt to have more or less delirium, with talking of his daily work, or of her household affairs.
The sweating stage would be pronounced and probably of sour perspiration.
The following remedies are, to a degree, antidotal to Bryonia: Camph., Chamomilla, Coffea, Rhus tox.
I use Bryonia 1x.