Bryonia is a medicine for complaints that develop slowly. For example an individual may have been exposed to damp and cold. He begins to feel out of sorts, begins to sneeze, the nose runs, and there is possibly a raw feeling in the chest. He goes on like this for a day or two and then some inflammatory trouble develops, such as pleurisy or pneumonia. Now in cases where Aconite or Belladonna was required such a condition would develop in a few hours. Bryonia therefore, is a remedy for complaints that develop slowly and tend to have long continued fever, such as rheumatic fever, typhoid fever, etc.
All remedies used by homoeopaths in the potentised form have certain features peculiar to each. Bryonia has one that is very marked and it is :worse from movement.” Whatever the illness, whether pneumonia, rheumatism, pleurisy, peritonitis, etc., the patient suffers very much on the slightest motion; the more he moves the worse he suffers. If he can keep perfectly still, he is in a reasonable degree of comfort, yet often he feels he must move on account of the severity of the pain and the more he moves the worse he suffers. The reader might think that nay invalid if very ill would be worse for moving.
That does not follow; in some illnesses the patient gets relief from movement. Take two cases of pneumonia, for example, one patient dare not move on account of the discomfort that ensues while the other obtains relief from constant movement in bed. Another marked indication for Bryonia is that there is relief from pressure, and this is borne out in cases of pneumonia, pleurisy, etc., where the patient wishes to lie on the affected side. Or he may press his hand firmly against the painful part.
Another interesting fact is that conditions requiring Bryonia are often on the right side of the body. Many remedies shave certain affinities with one side or other of the body, for instance, Bryonia the right side, and Chelidonium and Lycopodium also have a preference for that side, while Lachesis complaints are more often on the left side. This does not men that only the right side is affected but when one side or the other is definitely attacked it my be an additional indication for certain remedies.
The pains that are relieved by Bryonia are of the stitching variety, and such pains are often found in pleurisy, pneumonia, pericarditis, meningitis, etc. If in any case of illness you have stitching pains brought on by the least movement or aggravated by it, and in addition there is a desire to lie on the bad side, at once think of Bryonia. If then in addition to such symptoms you have dryness of the mucous membranes, indicated by dry parched and cracked lips, dry mouth and thirst for large quantities of cold water you can hardly fail to relieve your case by the administration of Bryonia.
The mental symptoms and mental changes which accompany all illnesses are in Bryonia cases those of irritability, despondency, fear of death, and despair of recovery. So extreme is the irritability that even asking the patient a question produces an irritable answer. He does not want to be bothered or talked to; wants to be left alone. This mental state is made worse by visitors, over-heated rooms or too many bed-clothes. If the patient wants the window opened let him have it, within reason, he will feel better for cool air. Heat aggravates the patient and cool air, cool applications relieve. Another mental peculiarity of the Bryonia patient and one that reminds of Chamomilla is, “he wants something but does not know what.”.
Then he facial expression is characteristic in severe illnesses of the Bryonia types. The face is puffed, swollen, purplish in colour and there is a stupid, almost imbecile, expression, and although the patient appears dazed and semi-conscious he is quite capable of talking although he semi-conscious he is quite capable of talking although he has a great objection of doing so. In this semi-conscious state the patient does not appear to realise that he is in his own home, and frequently demands to be taken home.
Another characteristic of most illnesses is that they are definitely worse at some particular time of the day. The Bryonia patients are usually worse in the early morning, sometimes again at 3 p.m. and off-times at 9 p.m. Belladonna very often is worse at 3 p.m. and may continue so until midnight while Chamomilla is worse at 9 a.m. All these little peculiarities help to distinguish between one medicine and another.
To sum up the main features of Bryonia: Illnesses develop slowly, that is, slowly for acute cases; all movement aggravates; pressure or lying on the painful part relieves; right side of the body more often attacked; great thirst side of the body more often attacked; great thirst for cold water; general irritability; sluggish state of mind; delirium of a low type, not the wild excitement of Belladonna; patient generally worse in a hot room; he is better for cool air and cool applications.