Materia Medica


Dr. George Vithoulkas gives us an understanding of Bryonia.

Vitis nigra; Bryonia nigram; Chironiam vitam; Bryonia dioica; Bryonia vera; Vitis alba.
English – White bryony; Black-berried white bryony; White hops.
French – Bryone; Bryone blanche; Coulevre.
German – Weisse Zaunrube; Stichwurz.
Polish – Pryestepbiaty.
Dutch – Welde wyngaar; Witte Bryonia
Portuguese – Norca branca.
Italian – Brionia, Vita bianca.
Spanish – Neuza alba.
Swedish – Hundrosva.

Natural order: Cucurbitaceae – Monoecia, Monodelphia. Family: Jussieu [vegetable substance] Dioecia gynandria, L. Preparation: tincture of root procured before flowering.

Remember that the pathology which every remedy represents and cures in the human organism can be conceived as an ‘idea’ rather than as a heap of disconnected symptoms. The important remedies of our materia medica have been proven extensively and their symptomatology is sufficiently comprehensive for the contemplative student to extract from it the prevailing ‘idea’.

The Essential Features

In Bryonia we have a patient who is emotionally, bodily and mentally dried up. He wants to be left alone, undisturbed, while at the same time constantly needing great quantities of water to balance his dryness. If this is looked at symbolically, we see that the water element, symbolising the emotions, is lacking or restricted. It will be apparent to you when you look upon a typical constitutional Bryonia type, that there is an element of dehydration at all levels. The sensation of dryness of the mucous membranes is most frequently reported, but the dryness of Bryonia extends to the emotional and mental levels as well. The mind is dry; in other words, the mind lacks nimbleness and agility, it is unimaginative.

Stiffness of the Mind

Constitutional Bryonia patients suffer from a stiffness of the mind; they tend to be very businesslike and matter of fact. Their perspective is quite limited or earthy. Consequently, they often focus their energies upon the attainment of earthly things and material security, especially money. Underlying their rather gruff, businesslike manner, however, a sense of financial insecurity dwells, and the primary expression of this insecurity in Bryonia patients is a fear of poverty. They are afraid of being poor one day, irrespective of the degree of their bank balance or business success.

Bryonia is a remedy which is indicated quite frequently today. The need for Bryonia is quite possibly a result of the pressures arising from the prevailing socio-economic system. The pressures to perform effectively in the business world and to achieve financial success in the face of fierce competition can have a profound influence upon one’s psychological functioning. As a consequence, many susceptible individuals will develop the mental, emotional, and physical pathological indications for Bryonia.

The Bryonia individual, most often a male, will be one who primarily wishes to be alone. This desire to be alone is attributable to a great amount of internal irritability and anger. Underlying the irritability is a considerable sense of insecurity expressed with an irrational fear of poverty and also fear about the future and, most specifically, about the future as it relates to his financial situation.

These people are very businesslike. Business concerns even occupy their subconscious mind; as a consequence, they often will talk about business while in a delirium. As one might expect, they are very careful with their money and reluctant to part with it, though they are not stingy to the extent of Arsenicum or Mercury.

It is unlikely that a Bryonia case would buy expensive goods for himself which he feels to be unnecessary. He may however spend money for a good cause. The Bryonia attitude is a materialistic one. Bryonia patients are earthbound; i.e., earthy in their perspectives and attitudes. They will pursue with determination whatever they decide would be beneficial for them. Bryonia patients with any interest in spiritual matters are definitely the exception.

Emotional Dryness and Desire for Solitude

The emotional dryness manifests in the patients’ irritability and peevishness, major characteristics of Bryonia. They are very serious people, lacking in imagination. They are neither playful nor joyful; seldom will they attempt a joke.
Typically these people lack refinement and sensitivity, but they do retain a specific sensitivity to annoyance. They do not welcome interference in their lives; they simply want to find their own niche, their place in life, and be left alone. They are averse to being bothered by others because of the internal irritability which they are reluctant to show. The problem with any kind of interference is that there must be some reaction on their part; this is tremendously difficult and aggravates them. Their attitude is, “Leave me alone.”

This is the nature of Bryonia, and we must perceive its inner structure along the same lines. The agility goes and a rigidity settles in. This individual is drying up, and in order to keep in balance he must have supplies of water, of emotions and of money, all of which must come from the outside. He is afraid that in his old age nobody will love him, nobody will care about him and he has to have money to pay people. Emotionally he cannot give love but he needs to feel loved in order to feel secure, in spite of the fact that when he is loved, he does not appreciate it. He can be busy and excited, buying and selling on the stock market, for which he can have a great passion, but he is unable to fall passionately in love with a woman.

He cannot feel or express passion, although he can perform sexually. For a Bryonia individual, it is enough that his wife should love him and be available, but he is incapable of romance or appreciation of her tenderness. He is usually angry and irritable and inconsiderate towards others, and after sexual intercourse he retreats into himself and is better if no one bothers him.

In a description of this type it is not possible to describe all the variations of the remedy and all the different moods. The student of homeopathy is required to understand the main ideas that run through each remedy.

Dryness of the Physical Body and Thirst

This same attitude will be apparent when the patient has to move a painful joint. Moving the joint creates a dry and cracking sensation, and he hates to have to do it. This dryness is apparent at different levels of the physical body. The mucous membranes, serous membranes or skin can dry up to a tremendous extent. Further examples of such dryness include: dryness of the conjunctiva of the eyes, so that the eyes cannot be moved without distress; dryness of the synovial membranes, so the joints cannot be moved without pain; dryness of the lining of the intestines so the stool will not move and a most distressing constipation sets in.

Bryonia is, of course, an extremely thirsty remedy. The thirst is for large quantities of cool or tepid water. In Bryonia there is a preference for warm drinks that actually make the patient feel better, often tepid tap water is quite sufficient. These characteristics help to distinguish Bryonia from such remedies as Phosphorus, Natrum muriaticum, and Sulphur which all desire great quantities of cold water frequently. Lycopodium, on the other hand desires and is ameliorated by warm drinks but the quantity of water they require is much less; Lac caninum, Arsenicum and Chelidonium also crave warm drinks.

As mentioned, Bryonia manifests great dryness of the mucous membranes in many conditions. One must be careful when analysing a case however, because some Bryonia patients can experience great dryness of the mouth without thirst. There are other remedies which have dryness and a simultaneous aversion to water. One of these remedies, Nux moschata, possesses such great dryness that the tongue feels stuck to the palate, yet there is an aversion to water. If these patients even attempt to drink water to help wash down some food, they will have to spit out the water; they cannot drink it; there is a complete absence of thirst. Natrum muriaticum often exhibits this symptom also.

So far we have given a description of the symptoms of the remedy. However, you should bear in mind the importance of the pathological picture that presents itself when you combine all the symptoms, for this is where the peculiarity and uniqueness of this personality lie. On prescribing this remedy you should not lose sight of the dryness, of the aggravation from moving these dry parts, nor of the “do not bother me” attitude, and the persistent but slow development of the pathology. Beyond that, you should make an effort to understand the subtleties of the pathology of the personality.

As you perceive the idea behind a remedy, you find yourself prescribing it with more certainty and greater confidence. If, however, you prescribe the remedy on symptoms alone, the margin for error remains very great. In order for one to be able to see these images and ideas correctly, it is necessary to have seen a lot of cases, and most of all to have prescribed the remedy correctly in several constitutional types.

About the author

George Vithoulkas

George Vithoulkas

George Vithoulkas is an Honorary Professor of the Moscow Medical Academy, Professor in the Kiev Medical Academy, Honorary Professor at the University of the Aegean, Greece, Collaborating Professor in Basque Medical University (2001-2004) and Doctor Honoris Causa of "Doctor ViktorBabes" University of Medicine and Pharmacy of Timisoara in Romania. In 1995, he established International Academy of Classical Homeopathy in Alonissos, of which he is the director. In 1996, he was honored with the Right Livelihood Award (also known as Alternative Nobel Prize) "for his outstanding contribution to the revival of homeopathic knowledge and the training of homeopaths to the highest standards".

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  • My dear your article itself is too imaginative, where symptoms are treated in fiction form to built an artcle. It ought to be precise, to the point, covering key symptoms and just any precise explaination on any specific symptom if author wish to do so.

  • Wonderful !It helps a lot.
    I would love to have your study of the remedy Mercury…
    This one is hard for me to grasp.
    Thank you so much.


  • Extremely useful information on a complete picture of Bryonia.

    I understand the remedy so much better now – very valuable insight.

    Thank you so much.


  • This is a good informative artical my wife almost same but she is not drinking water to much and her skin is very dry pleas explain about female Bryonia person.Thanks

  • Good to be reminded that Bryonia is also a Chronic remedy. I often use it as an acute.
    Can think of several children with 9pm aggravation that have given other remedies with out effect and have missed the Bryonia picture. Can be rather difficult to see in very small children.
    I used it recently for myself when I was sleepless for several nights with anxiety about financial security and an inflammation of the wrist which had lasted for months. After Bryonia 30c at bedtime the next morning anxiety gone and joint pain 80% better. How do people manage without homeopathy!

  • Thank you very much SIR,for this beautiful and comprehensive explation of bryonia.The way u have presented the topic makes it very easy to understand,its use in various aspects were almost neglected by me all thesse i wont forget.thank you once again.

  • This is one of the best articles I have so far read on Bryonia . The author has a good way of writing and making it simple and interesting at the same time. Please keep it up and write more on other medicines for our benefit.

  • Extremely useful information on a complete picture of Bryonia.

    I understand the remedy so much better now – very valuable insight.

    Thank you so much.The key element is the precise elucidation of some of the critical but esoteric factors connected with the substance Bryonia.

  • Dear Dr Vithoulkas,
    I match a lot of the symptoms described – dry eyes (this is more recent after laser surgery), very dry nose, dry mouth, wanting to be left alone (although at times, I enjoy company if there is no stressful relation with the other person), being sore in the morning in places which have lain heavily on the bed, depression and anxiety etc. But a significant difference is I do not crave water as described. I enjoy cold water occasionally, but will usually go without. Nux Moschata doesn’t seem to be as close a match as Bryonia and I certainly do not have an aversion to water, I just don’t feel thirsty. Do you reckon I might be one of those exceptions within Bryonia?