Materia Medica

Bryonia Alba

Written by David Little

Homeopath David Little presents an in-depth look at the polychrest Bryonia.

Excerpted from the 6 volume Homoeopathic Compendium by David Little.

White Bryony, Cucurbitaceae

The name Bryonia is derived from Greek, bryo, which means to sprout, and is related to its rapid annual growth from the tuber. In Culpepper’s Complete Herbal and English Physician at large are the following remarks: “Bryonia is one of the furious martial plants, and amongst other virtues, when fixed with honey, doth mightily cleanse the chest of rotten phlegm, and wonderfully help any old and long cough, to those that are troubled with shortness of breath.” The root must be taken before the plant flowers, therefore the month of June, and this juice is to be expressed from it, and prepared according to the mode previously mentioned of preparing the recent plant. The root has a very nauseating, biting taste and disagreeable smell.

Bryonia is a member of the Cucurbitaceae family, which climbs with tendrils curled round nearby objects for support. Bryonia is a tendril vine found in hedges and in borders of woods that have calcareous soils. It is native to Eurasia. The most common remedies of this family are Bryonia and Colocynthis, which share many similar symptoms. Both remedies are very irritable and angry and can demonstrate ugly behavior. They do not like to talk, don’t like to see people, and tend to answer very impatiently if at all. They both can be morose and very negative about everything and everybody. The worse their pain, the worse their temperament. The Cucurbitaceae family includes: bry., cephd., coloc., colocin., cuc-c., cuc-p., elat., luf-a., luf-act., luf-b., luf-op., mom-b., mom-ch., trich-d. Complements: abrot., alum., kali-c., lyc., nat-m., rhus-t., sep., sulph., upa.


Images and Archetypes

The earth, motionless, stillness, fixedness; the dry, irritable business-like Father, the Patriarch; the prosaic Hero and angry Warrior; might makes right; the merchant class; the bilious businessman, says he is doing it all for the family but it is really for his own ambition; fears poverty; needs a home; failure complex.

Well Adapted To

The choleric temperament and bilious constitutions with firm fleshy fiber, tendency to great irritability and bad temper; persons who overeat or eat excessively of meat and have strong constitutions. Gastro-bilious-rheumatic constitutions. Nervous temperaments, nervous, dry, slender people. Is best adapted to persons of a gouty or rheumatic diathesis; prone to so-called bilious attacks; Bryonia patients are irritable, inclined to be vehement and angry; dark or black hair, dark complexions, firm muscular fibre; dry, nervous, slender people (Nux). Hasty disposition.

Suited To

The obsessive compulsive, hysterical, cyclothymic, avoidant, addictive and borderline personality disorders.


Sycosis, hepatitis, lymphosis and cancer diathesis.

Ailments From

The patient suffers from anger and vexation, with anxiety, with silent grief, and with violence. They are very much disturbed by bad news, disappointment, deception, excitement, grief, sorrow, care, and violence. They suffer diseases from anticipation, foreboding and presentiment, fear and fright, hurry, being scorned, indignation and humiliation. Ailments from being in crowd or society and from the approach of others. Ailments arising from chagrin, and other conditions, when attended with chilliness and coldness of body. Suppressed eruptions and discharges; alcohol, gluttony, wounds and cold winds.



Mood affective disorders; depression, mania and melancholia. Obsessive compulsive, hysterical, hypochondriacal, anxiety and phobic neurosis. Paranoid disorders. Deranged oral, anal and urethral actualizations. Kleptomania.

The Persona of the Bryonia patient is rather rigid, inflexible, stiff, mundane, pedestrian and materialistic. Whitmont wrote in Psyche and Substance: “Bryonia tends to be a more prosaic species concerned about business, stock market and daily bread; he is concerned with quantity rather than with quality.” The Bryonia patient may appear confident on the outside but in their Shadow there is a great sense of insecurity. Hahnemann wrote in the Materia Medica Pura: “Anxiety; he is apprehensive about the future.” Hering added in his Guiding Symptoms: “She fears not to have wherewithal to live.” They become obsessive-compulsive and tend to be overly busy and undertake far too much work. This state, of course, causes them much vexation from business matters. T. F. Allen wrote in his Encyclopedia: “prattling about business to be attended to.” Even when feeling more normal the Bryonia patient tends to speak in teams of production, commerce, buying and selling and they draw a distinct line between business and friendship.

At first when they feel angry, irritable and impatient they will hold their feelings back but their Shadow will nag, badger, pester and harass. If pressed about anything he does not want to be bothered. Whitmont said that they are “like a bear chewing his paws, he wants to be left alone; he growls and snarls when you attempt to disturb him.” Sometimes the patient is ill-humored and quarrelsome without reason. T. F. Allen noted: “Anxiety in the whole body, which compelled him to do something constantly, and wherever he went he found no rest.” At first the patient wishes to keep still as it seems to ameliorate the symptoms but as their anxious restlessness increases they are forced to move although this motion makes them feel worse. The patient is dissatisfied no matter what they do. Hering noted: “Desire for things that cannot be had, which are refused, or not wanted when offered.”

The patient becomes increasingly more peevish, irritable and violent. They are fretful and apprehensive in the room, > in fresh air; vertigo and confusion of head on slightest motion, < after a meal, when stooping; offensive breath; desire for unusual things; slow digestion, constipation. T. F. Allen noted in his Encyclopedia: “Irritable mood (will not have his wife and children about him; wishes to be alone).” The patient is very morose and ill-humored and inclined to needless anxiety, fright and fear. Hering added: “Very irritable, inclined to be angry, after getting angry, chilly or a red face and heat in head.” A female patient tends to be very irritable during menses. The patient is easily provoked by contradiction and is obstinate and passionate. Both mental and bodily quietness is required; aversion to company as it causes one to talk and that means motion; child dislikes to be carried or to be raised. Aversion to being touched. Bad effects from mortification, violence and anger.

During delirium the patient expresses continual “desire to go home”; he imagines that he is not at home and longs to be taken there in order to be properly cared for; delirium, at night; springs up suddenly from the bed and escapes; on falling asleep; during sleep; on closing eyes; with trembling; with loquacity; for his work; busy; maniacal; quiet; raging, raving > toward noon; < warm room > open air. She is not conscious of what she is doing, and lets everything fall from her hands (in the room); worse when lying. The patient has persistent thoughts on walking; vanishing of thoughts on reading. All the hustle and bustle wears the patient down until they feel exhausted and cannot move. The patient becomes so weak in the mind that his ideas disappear as if he would faint together with heat in the face, especially on standing. Hering wrote: “Great despondency, disinclined to think, exhaustion of intellectual powers.” At last they feel stupefied, giddy and dizzy and as if they are sinking into the bed in a semi-conscious state. Finally, they become unconscious and can no longer move or speak. Insensibility greatly increased in the evening.

This remedy has sensations of being rigid, unmoving, stiff, dry, hard, tense, knotted up, stopped up and balled up. They feel heavy, like they are carrying a heavy load, pressure, pressing, pressing as from a load. In some senses they feel like the weight of the world is upon their shoulders. There is a sense of cracking, cracking up, bursting, splitting, being driven apart and flying to pieces. There is a feeling of tearing, of being torn, torn between, being torn loose, torn off, torn out or torn down. They feel as if they are burning or burnt and scalded. There is a sense of something digging at them, burrowing into them, and rooting them out. A core delusion is that they will not be able to accomplish their work and their dreams revolve around images of being busy, of business, of household affairs. This obsession with the material world and success tends to bring them into conflict during their midlife crisis because the Unconscious will compensate for this one-sided Ego fixation by constantly bringing up doubts, uncertainties and misgivings.

Melancholy, with fear for the future in his domestic or business affairs, even at night he dreams of business; fear of poverty. Great depression and morose mood, perhaps from some hepatic affection; irritable mood, wishes to be left alone, has no desire to move, although he feels better out-doors; great forgetfulness. Great depression and anxiety, with fright, fear and apprehension of future trouble and misfortune; irritability, weeping and moroseness; mental exhaustion and confusion of mind; sticking, jerking, throbbing headache; marked inactivity of liver or rheumatic diathesis.

Hypochondria; restlessness: wants change, with fear of future, fear of death, which he thinks is near, with nocturnal heat; despair of being cured, with fear of death; weeping mood, with headache and other complaints; great depression and very morose mood without any cause, quite contrary to his habit; great sense of insecurity, with mental depression. Fretful; she imagines that she cannot accomplish her work; constantly takes up the wrong piece, and always inclined to change and take another; followed by pressive headache in the forehead.

Anxiety; the patient suffers when compelled to do something. There is anxiety with fear, of conscience, about the future, about the future during or after delivery, hypochondriacal, about the health, about money matters, about business, from thinking about it. There is causeless anxiety. Anxiety in bed; the anxiety drives them out of bed, and from place to place, with difficult, anxious respiration. Anxiety during sleep, prevents sleep, disturbs sleep, or causes sleeplessness. There is anxiety with nausea, from pains in the stomach, with pressure in stomach, with pressure in epigastrium, with congestions, during fever, with heat, with palpitations, with perspiration and on walking. Anxiety is felt in the abdomen, in the blood, in the chest, in chest in morning, in heart, sternum, stomach; anxiety extending to the head upward. The patient is < evening, < evening in bed, < night; < before midnight, < in a room or house and > in open air.

Fears, paranoia and phobias; there is fear of failure, of failure in work or business, of poverty, of starving, of being sold. Fear of being alone, of misfortune, of evil, of losing reason, driving from place to place. Fear with desire to escape. Fear of pain, of suffering, of impending disease, of suffocation, of being poisoned. Fear of death, of death during heat, of impending death, of death during perspiration. The patient is scared of motion, of motion or speaking least it bring on a cough, fears riding in a carriage, and the child fears being carried or raised. Fear of thunderstorms. They are claustrophobic, fear narrow places, and entering a room > open air. Fear > in open air.


The patient imagines that they are doing business, but often thinks that they cannot accomplish their work, and are poor and unfortunate. They imagine that they are in a strange land, away from home, away from home and must get there; they believe they are under the control of strangers, friends are strangers, there are strangers in the room. He thinks he is fainting, being injured or beaten, pursued or pursued by a soldiers, sees soldier that is cutting him down > on getting cool. They see assembled things, swarms, crowds, faces, figures, people, children, phantoms, visions etc. Sees faces, ghosts, visions, on closing eyes. They imagine they tried to toss someone out the window. He feels like the bed is sinking or he is floating in air. They expect to become delirious at night. Delusions of touch and senses. They think their head is turning in circles, the brain turns around; and his head is too heavy. They have illusions in the morning, evening, on falling asleep and at night.


Dreams are confused, frightful, heavy, nightmare, long, many, with meditation, visionary, persistent, pleasant, unpleasant, vexatious, vivid, restless, indifferent, unimportant, remembered, or unremembered. There are anxious dreams, especially of business. The patient dreams of being busy, excelling in mental work, of household affairs, of business, of business of the day, of business difficulties, of troubles, pain, and hunger and fasting. The dreamer thinks he is involved in quarrels, strife, fights, riots and battles and sees dead people, dead bodies and soldiers. In the dreams he is angry and he is tossing someone out the window or he wishes to smash the window. They dream of previous events, events of the previous days, or what is heard, read, talked or thought about. Dreams from emotional causes, from exertion, that are exhausting and mentally exhausting and affect the mind. They can take place when he is waking, while half awake or while awake. Dreams may rouse the patient or be continued on waking.

Physical Concomitants

Acts on all serous membranes and the viscera they contain. Complaints from suppressed discharges (such as menses, milk, etc.) or eruption of an acute exanthemata. Pains; stitching, tearing, < at night; < by motion, inspiration, coughing; > by absolute rest, and lying on painful side; all mental and physical symptoms are < motion and > rest. Excessive dryness of mucous membranes of entire body; lips and tongue dry, parched, cracked; stool, dry, as if burnt; cough, dry, hard, racking, with scanty expectoration; urine, dark and scanty; great thirst; great thirst for large quantities at long intervals.

Headache: when stooping, as if brain would burst through forehead, from ironing, on coughing, in morning after rising, or when first opening the eyes, commencing in morning and gradually increasing till evening, from constipation, dull pain in forehead. Bursting, splitting headache, as if everything would be pressed out; as if hit by a hammer from within; < from motion, stooping, opening eyes. Eyes very sore, and feel as if they would be pressed out of the head. Frequent bleeding of nose when menses should appear. Swelling of upper half of face, especially under eyes and over root of nose, with swelling of lids and inability to open left eye. Lips parched, dry, cracked. dryness of mouth, tongue, and throat, with excessive thirst. Tongue is dry; coated white or yellow. Soreness of throat, < in warm room, > drinking, but returning, with dryness and rawness, on empty swallowing; in evening, with redness and difficult swallowing.

Pressure in the pit of the stomach, as if there was a stone in it; goes off with much eructation. Nausea and faintness when rising up. Stitches in abdomen; < pressure, coughing, breathing. Diarrhoea: from cold drinks when overheated, from fruit, or sour kraut; < in the morning, or on moving, even a hand or foot. Diarrhoea: bilious, acrid stools, with soreness of the anus; stools like dirty water; stools of undigested food. Constipation, stools dry and hard, as if burnt. Constipation: from induration of the stools, or because the fæces are too large in size. Mammae heavy, of a stony hardness; pale but hard; hot and painful; must support the breasts. Menses: too early, too profuse, and < on motion. Respiration oppressed and deep. Difficult, quick respiration; < every movement; caused by stitches in chest. Cough: dry, spasmodic, with gagging and vomiting; with stitches in side of chest; with headache, as if head would fly to pieces; < after eating, drinking, entering a warm room, a deep inspiration. Coming into warm room excites cough. Pleurisy with effusion. Sour or oily sweat. Stitches and stiffness in small of back. Pricking, darting and stinging in the joints, muscles and inner parts. Joints red, swollen, hot, with stitches and tearing; < on least movement. Yellow, pale, swollen skin, dropsical; hot and painful. Hair very greasy.


Grand Sensations

Ill or sick feeling, rigid, unmoving, stopped sensation, hard, hard bed sensation, knotted, faintness, fainting, sinking, gait reeling, staggering, tottering, wavering, heaviness, heaviness as of load, tension, fullness, dryness, dryness of parts usually moist, cracked, crackling, gurgling, gushing, burning, burnt, scalded, like hot air, aching, ball-like, thread-like, sore, bruised, sprained, beaten, broken, breaking, bursting, splitting, driven asunder, explosion like shocks flying to pieces, drawing, digging up, burrowing, rooting, darting, cutting, stitching, tearing, torn loose, torn out, torn off, pricking, pinching, pressing, pressing as of a load, stinging, scraped, ulcerative, twitching, jerking, twisting, pains extend backward and downward or go to part laid on, slow manifestations.

Sensations As If

Sensation as if the head was turning in a circle; as if she was sinking deep down in bed; as if everything would press out at forehead; as if head would burst on coughing; as if brain shook from behind forward from hiccough; giddiness as of looseness in the brain when stooping; as if head would burst; as though eye became smaller; as if eyes were pressed out of head; as if there was sand in eyes; chirping in ear as from locust; hissing sound as of boiling water in the ears; as if a tooth was screwed in and then pulled out; as if teeth were elongated; as if vapor was in trachea; as if there was a stone in pit of stomach; as if pit of stomach was swollen; as if region of stomach was rolled up like a ball; snapping noises in left side of stomach as if the victuals were pushed to the left side; as if something lay in abdomen; as if everything were loose in the chest and fell downward into the abdomen; as of a plug in anus; suffocating feeling as if from tight neckwear; as if apple seed lodged in larynx; itching-burning stitches in the hip as if with a knife; scraping-sticking in a place between the shoulder blades as though a thorn was thrust into the flesh; elbow feels as if arm was broken; pain all over the body as if the flesh were loose; prickling as if from pins and needles on the soles or on other parts of the body; drawing as if from a thread through the shaft of the bone.


Aggravation <: Motion, least motion, raising up, stooping, exertion, coughing, breathing; dry heat, dry cold; becoming hot; room; drinking while hot; eating, warm foods, vegetables, acids; vexation; touch; suppressions; taking cold; early am.

Amelioration >: Pressure, lying on painful part; bandage, etc.; cool open air; quiet; rest; eating cold things; cloudy, damp days; drawing knees up; heat to inflamed part.

About the author

David Little

David Little was born in the USA in 1948 and has been a student of Homeopathy since the early 1970s. He has studied Homeopathy in the USA and India. His first teacher was the late, great Dr Manning Strahl and he was a colleague of the late Dr Harimohan Choudhury. He started HOE, Homeopathic Online Education in 1999. David Little has recently published The Homoeopathic Compendium, a unique series of textbooks designed to provide a complete guide to Homoeopathy. This monumental work is presented in 6 volumes, with over 4,500 pages. To order online and for more information, including free chapters visit:

1 Comment

  • I am really grateful to Mr David Little for elaborating Bryonia Alba in such a nice way which has given me
    a lot of knowledge and opportunity to use this Polychrest medicine.

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