Bryonia is one of the priceless remedies of Homoeopathy, especially useful in acute diseases. Bryonia is also a remedy of very definite symptoms that can hardly be missed, therefore it is one of the easiest to prescribe with assurance. It was one of Hahnemann’s earliest provings-one of those “without which”, as Dudgeons says, “we might indeed shut up shop”
Hence Bryonia finds its way into every handbook of Homoeopathy, and into every domestic medicine chest. But-it behaves us to know when and how to use it, if we want to see the miracle work.
Guernsey says, of Bryonia, “The great characteristic of this drug is aggravation produced by any motion. The patient cannot bear a disturbance of any kind, either mental or physical. Can’t sit up in bed, as it makes the patient so sick and faint, even when rising to take a drink of water. Moving from one side of the bed to the other is not so bad, but the patient cannot sit up.”
Let us follow this out into the provings. This Worse from motion, with Bryonia, is such a constant symptom with sufferings in all parts of the body, as to have become a General.
Motion aggravates the vertigo and headache; the fullness in the forehead; (worse even from moving the eyes!) the severe pulsating pains in head; the shooting pains in head and eyes; the expanding headaches, etc.; the pains everywhere.
Worse for movement are: the vomiting; the fullness and pressure in stomach; the cutting and constricting pains in stomach; the burning and stitching in stomach; the excessive pain in stomach; the griping and cutting in intestines; the colic; the sticking and shooting pains in abdomen; the involuntary passing of urine; the after-pains; the pains of an inflamed breast.
Worse from motion are: the pains in lumbar region, the stiffness, tearing, tenderness there; the pains of sprained wrist, the pain and swelling of finger joints; the sticking pains there; the sciatic pains; the stiffness and stitches in knees; the pains in calf-in ankle-in joints; the sweats-the aching-the faintness-the chills; the soreness in periosteum, ligaments, etc., etc.
So we can add to the worse for movement of the everywhere- present Bryonia pains, their character-STITCHING AND STICKING.
Stitchings, deep in brain: in head: in eyes: deep in ear: in teeth: in throat: in stomach: in abdomen: in liver: in spleen: in chest: in intercostal spaces and sternum: in glands: in heart-region: between shoulder-blades, and under the left, extending to heart: in arms, elbow, wrist, fingers, knees, soles, big toe: in ALL SEROUS MEMBRANES, pericardium, pleura, meninges, linings of joints. And all these are also worse from motion.
And now, to complete the Bryonia picture, we must add to the WORSE FROM MOTION, and the characteristic STICKING PAINS, the RELIEF FROM PRESSURE. This is, of course, in part at least, a corollary of the worse from motion: because pressure tends to keep the suffering parts still.
And here Bryonia differs fundamentally from Belladonna (both inflammatory drugs) in regard to causation and to cure. Belladonna is intolerant of the slightest pressure, or increase of pressure. The throbbing pains of Belladonna-in a “felon”, for instance, are intensified with even the extra pressure of blood in the part from every heart-beat. And yet, when a student, I watched a fellow-student, a senior, with horror, as she applied a fomentation to a whitlow in the form of hot hard pad of wool, bandaged tightly on to one side of the finger! Students and doctors do the best work where they have themselves experienced the agonies they are treating. “Fancy bandaging” is supreme cruelty to a Belladonna patient; for it is difficult to do a really pretty piece of bandaging otherwise than firmly. During the war I used to be told that, at La Panne, the wounded dreaded being bandaged by a certain Queen who helped to nurse them: she bandaged too tightly.
A Belladonna pneumonia will never be found lying on the “sore side”. A Bryonia pneumonia will lie on the inflamed side, to keep it still, or on the back-never on the good side; for that would keep the useful side compressed and still, and inflict more active movements on the painful side of the chest.
Another leading characteristic of Bryonia is DRYNESS. The dry stage of pleurisy, where the inflamed surfaces rubbing together with every breath, produce the stitching pains. Dryness of inflamed serous membranes-pericardium-pleura-meninges of brain- linings of joints. Dryness also of lips, of tongue; of intestines, causing constipation with dry, hard, dark stools. Painful, dry, spasmodic cough, with pains as if the head would fly to pieces; with bursting pains in head and chest, needing support and pressure to limit their intensity.
Kali carb. has also these severe sticking pains in chest with pneumonia and pleurisy; but the pains of Bryonia are only with movement-with respiration; whereas those of Kali carb. come independently of respiration.
One remembers a striking Kali carb. case-a severe case of right- sided pleuro-pneumonia in December 1917, when pneumonias were common and severe.
Man, 65. Had been taken suddenly ill at his work. Brought into our Hospital on the fourth day of illness: had been unable to rest or to sleep for these three nights because of the pain.
On admission, temp. 104, respiration 39, “prune-juice” expectoration. Great pain, extorting cries. But these stabbing pains were found to be independent of respiration, and the pneumonia was, as said, right-sided. He was given Kali carb. 30 two-hourly, and in two hours the pain had stopped, and he had a good night. Next day the temperature was down two degrees, and on the third day its highest was 99-4, and that ended it. He made a good and rapid recovery.
And here is a little Bryonia case about the same time. A naval patient, aged 41, was sent in by the Admiralty, with pleuro- pneumonia; again right base, with a temp. of 103.4, respiration 44, and stained sputum. His symptoms suggested Bryonia, which was given in the 200th and then 1m potencies. On the second day temp. had dropped a degree, on the third day (the fourth day of his illness) it was already subnormal, with a small rise in the evening:- and that ended the case. He made a rapid and uninterrupted recovery.
With such, i.e. real, Homoeopathy, if the case is treated early, one sees again and that it is possible to abort pneumonia. I suppose many more cases of pleuro-pneumonia call for Bryonia than for any other medicine, even Phosphorus. One could produce a number from Hospital records, to the few that have demanded Kali carb, that is to say, whose symptoms have demanded Kali carb. But in Homoeopathy, one medicine will not do for another. Homoeopathy is individualization. It is not enough to diagnose pneumonia, and to give a pneumonia medicine. With Hahnemann we must diagnose “a kind Phosphorus kind-a Bryonia kind-a Kali carb. kind-a Natrum sulph. kind-a Mercurius kind-of pneumonia. It is the symptoms, always, that decide, if curative work is to be done. One may palliate, and the patient gets well, with perhaps less suffering; but that in not CURE.
Turning the pages yet further, one is tempted to give one other interesting case, about the same date, of broncho-pneumonia aborted in a child of three years.
She was seen in the out-patient department March 14th, 1918, Temperature at non was 100.4, resp. 40. Her mother had been up with her all night, she had been burning hot, crying and coughing. Refused food. She “had been burning hot at night for eight days”. The were” creps” at rt. base, and (?) left. She was given Bryonia 1M six-hourly. The result was “beautiful rest at night”; but as there were (the next day)” creps” at both bases and respiration was 48, she was admitted and given Bryonia 10m. (three doses). Next day the temperature was subnormal, respiration 29-36. the temperature did not rise again, and she made an uneventful recovery.
Broncho-pneumonia is elsewhere found a dangerous and lengthy disease for little children; the statistics of homoeopathy in this disease are excellent.
Different remedies pick out different organs or tissues. Bryonia especially selects serous membranes, to irritate, and therefore in fine dosage to stimulate and to heal. It has a tremendous effect on pleura and on lung,-and is one of the drugs that has produced pneumonia.
Bryonia’s time aggravation are3 a.m., when its delirium, its profuse night-sweats, and its toothache are worse. 9 p.m. is also one of Bryonia’s bad hours: and there is apt to be profuse urination from 6-7 p.m. Many of Bryonia’s symptom are worse in the morning, and many worse in the evening.
A queer Bryonia symptom is given by Hahnemann, “on slight mental emotion (on laughing) there suddenly occurs a shooting (itching) burning all over the body as if he had been whipped with nettles or had nettlerash, through nothing is to be seen on the skin; this burning came on afterwards by merely thinking of it, or when he got heated”.
Bryonia is a great East wind remedy. The “aetiology” o certain remedies is of great importance. For instance, the complaints of Dulcamara come on in cold DAMP weather-from the chill of a wetting-or a wetting when hot-or a chill when heated. Bryonia and a few others have acute sufferings that come on after exposure to cold, dry EAST wind. Such are Aconite, Asarum europaeum, Causticum, Hepar, Kali carb., Nux vomica, Sepia, Spongia, etc.
Bryonia is one of the remedies of nosebleed (but here, Vipera is in our experience the especially effective remedy-even when the condition had been life-long. It, Bryonia, is the great remedy of vicarious menstruation-nosebleed or vomiting of blood.
Here is a tip from one of our teachers, who speaks from personal experience. In a Natrum mur. patient with a severe headache, do not give Natrum mur for the acute condition or you will fearfully intensity the suffering. Give its “acute” Bryonia; and only the Natrum mur. in a quiescent period.
Mentally, and in delirium, Bryonia is commonplace. Its chief note if ANXIETY: anxiety about the future: about the everyday concerns of life. Dreams, and in delirium talks, about the business of the day. Irrational taking about his business; prattling about the business that must be attended to. Wants to get out of bed and go home. Irritable and morose.
It is a great remedy for the breads. “Breasts heavy, of a stony hardness; pale but hard; hot and painful.” While in Belladonna inflammation there is bright redness, with burning skin, and much throbbing. In one case of cancer of the breast, where Bryonia was given because of a big pleural effusion, it astonishingly improved the breast condition as well as wiping out the effusion which one had afraid to aspirate.
Here are some of Allen’s and Hahnemann’s black-type symptoms, especially characteristic of Bryonia, and which Bryonia has much cause and much cured.
ANXIETY; he is apprehensive about the future.
Irrational talking about his business.
Very ill-humoured; troubled with needless anxiety.
Morose: everything puts him out of humour.
Dreams full of quarrelling and vexatious things.
Dreams all night very vividly of anxious and careful attention to his business. In his dreams he is occupied with household affairs.
During sleep was continually busy with what he had read the evening previous.
Delirious prattling about business to be attended to.,
Confusion of the head.
Vertigo as soon as he rises from his chair.
On rising from bed in the morning, dizzy and whirling, as if head were turning in a circle.
Headache commences in the morning, when first opening and moving the eyes.
Pressive frontal headache, very much increased by stooping.
In the occiput, obtuse pain.
A pressing pain in the occiput, with drawing down into the neck; relieved towards noon.
Digging pressure in the front of the brain, with pressing towards the forehead, especially violent when stooping or walking quickly. A walk tires him very much.
Headache on stooping, as if everything would fall out at the forehead; as if everything would press out at the forehead.
Pressive pain above the right eye, followed by dull pressing pain in the occiput, whence it spread over the whole body, and continued more or less severe the whole day : on quick motion and after eating the pain became so severe that it seemed like a distinct pulsation within in the head.
An out-pressing pain in both temples.
Pain in left eyeball, especially violent on moving the ball.
In the morning eyes as if gummed up with matter.
Nosebleed for a quarter of an hour in the morning.
Red, hot, soft puffiness of the face.
Drawing, sometimes twitching toothache in the molars of left upper jaw, only during and after eating, all the same time the teeth felt too long and as if they waggled to and fro.
Pain as if a tooth were screwed in and then pulled out, momentarily relieved by cold water.
(Toothache about 3 a.m.) which becomes aggravated on lying on the painless side, and then goes away if one lies on the painful cheek.
Very white, coated tongue. Tongue thickly coated white.
Dryness in the mouth: mouth very dry. Violent thirst.
Collection of much soapy frothy saliva in the mouth.
Insipid, sickly taste in the mouth: he has almost no taste.
Offensive, bitter taste. Intensely bitter taste on the tongue.
Frequent drinking of cold water relieved the bitter taste and the inclination to vomit.
Great thirst: obliged to drink much cold water.
Great thirst: she can and must drink a great deal at once.
No appetite for milk; but when he takes it the appetite for it comes, and he commences to relish it.
Great longing for coffee.
After a meal bitter eructations: or sourish.
After eating, pressure in the stomach, as if a stone lay there and made him cross.
As if a stone lay in stomach, after eating: epigastric region painful to touch: painful to pressure. (N.B., only here is Bryonia not relieved by pressure, i.e. in stomach and abdomen.)
Pasty offensive evacuations in the afternoon, followed by burning in anus.
Diarrhoea preceded by cutting in the abdomen.
Dry, parched stool, with effort.
Urine dark, almost brown.
Fluent coryza for eight days.
Severe coryza without cough.
Viscid phlegm in the fauces that was detached by hawking.
Irritation to hacking cough: it seems as if some mucus were in the windpipe; when he coughs for some time he feels a pain there compounded of soreness and pressure: the pain becomes more violent by speaking and smoking tobacco.
When he comes from the open into a warm room he has a feeling as if a vapour were in the windpipe, which compels him to cough. He feels as if he could not breathe in air enough.
Viscid phlegm in the windpipe, detached by frequent hacking cough.
When coughing it always goes into the head like a pressure.
Stitches in the sternum on coughing he was obliged to hold the chest with the hand.
Internal heat in the chest.
Sharp outward shooting pain under the right nipple, in the cavity of, the chest only on expiring.
(Here are some of ALLEN’S italic symptoms, which are very important):
Short, but violent stitches in the right side of chest, so that he was obliged to hold his breath and could not cry out.
Stitches in the right side of chest between the third and fourth ribs.
Tearing stitches in left side of chest, extend from behind forward, are relieved during rest, aggravated during motion and on deep respiration. (Perhaps we are doing wrong to give only the black type symptoms: those in italics are tremendously important also!)
Weariness and heaviness in all the limbs.
Swelling elbow joint and somewhat below and above it, to the middle of the upper and forearm, and of the feet.
In the wrist-joint pain as if sprained or dislocated at every movement.
In the fingers shooting pains when writing.
Great weakness in thighs; he can hardly go upstairs: less when going downstairs.
Tensive, painful stiffness of the knees.
Stitches in knees when walking.
Knees totter and bend under him when walking.
Legs are so weak that they can scarcely support him, on beginning to walk, and even when standing.
Hot swelling of the foot.
Hot swelling of the instep, with bruised pain on stretching out. The foot seems tense on stepping on it, and on touch it pains like an abscess.
Very much inclined to yawn. Frequently yawning all day.
On rising, great exhaustion and weakness-had to drag himself about.
On rising from bed he was attacked by faintness.
After the midday siesta he is chilly and dazed in the head.
Great thirst (he must drink much cold fluid) with internal heat, without being hot to the touch externally.
Sensation of heat in the face with redness of it and thirst.
He perspires all over when walking in the cool air.
Profuse nocturnal sweat from 3 a.m.
Until Dr.Haehl, of Stuttgart, in recent years, and after long search, discovered Hahnemann’s voluminous case books-relegated to an attic!-and established them in his Hahnemann Museum at Stuttgart, Bryonia had the distinction of figuring in one of the every few cases from his colossal lifework that were, till then, available (at all events in his better known publications).
It is worth re-telling. He gives it to illustrate his method of taking the case, and finding the remedy. As such, it may be interesting of republish it in extenso some day.
A washerwoman had come from a neighbouring village to ask for help. She was crippled with pain, and had been unable to work for some weeks. Hahnemann took her symptoms with the care he enjoins on us, and then went through them, jotting down the remedies that had caused, and could therefore cure such symptoms, till Bryonia was seen to alone cover the entire picture.
In those early days, he administered a dose of Bryonia in the strong tincture, and sent her away.
When, a couple of days latter, she failed to return, one of his disciples was anxious to know the effect of the remedy. “Go, then, and find out,” suggested Hahnemann. The woman was found at her tub, busy and indignant. She said that the pain had left her the very next day, and that she had remained well. All these weeks she had been unable to earn her livelihood-did the doctor expect her to leave her work and go all those miles to tell him that she was cured?
Bryonia was one of Burnett’s Fifty Reasons for being a Homoeopath. Let him tell the tale.
“When I was a lad I had pleurisy of the left side, and, with the help of a village apothecary, and half-a-hogshead of mixture, nearly died, though not quite; from that time on I had a dull, uneasy sensation in my side, about which I consulted many eminent physicians in various parts of Europe, but no one could help me. All agreed that it was an old adhesive something between the visceral and costal layers of the pleura, but no one of my many eminent advisers could cure it. And yet my faith in them was big enough to remove mountains: so faith as a remedy did no good.
“When orthodox medicine proved unhelpful, I went to the hydropaths (they were called “quacks” then!) and had it hot, and cold, and long; but they also did me no good. Packs cold, and the reverse; cold compresses worn for months together; sleeping in wet sheets; no end of sweatings-Turkish and Russian-all left my old pleuritic trouble in status quo ante.
“The grape cure, the bread and wine cure, did no better. Not did diet and change help me.
“However, when I was studying what the peculiar people called Homoeopaths have to say about their Bryonia alba, and its affinity for serous membranes, I-What?-abused them and called them quacks? No!-I bought some Bryonia alba, and took it as they recommended, and in a fortnight my side was well, and has never troubled me since.
“There, friend, that is my second reason for being a homoeopath, and when I cease to be grateful to dear old Hahnemann for his Bryonia, may my old pleural trouble return to remind me of the truth of his teaching.
“What you and the world in general may think of it I care not one straw: I speak well of the bridge that carried me over.
“For my part, I make but one demand of medicine, and one only, that it shall cure! The pathy that will cure is the pathy for me. For of your fairest pathy I can but say-
`What care I how fair she be,
If she be not fair to me?”
From the above we see that not only is Bryonia a great remedy in acute pleurisy, but that it can also cure the chronic condition sometimes left by pleurisy.
NASH says: “It makes no difference what the name of the disease, if the patient feels greatly better by lying still and suffers greatly on the slightest motion, and the more and the longer he moves the more he suffers, Bryonia is the first remedy to be thought of, and there must be very strong counter-indications along other lines that will rule it out.”
Nash also says: “The dominant school do not know what they have lost in not being acquainted with the virtues of this remedy, as developed in our provings and clinical use, but we know what we have gained.”
And now, to sum up. If you ever get a patient with severe stitching pains: worse for the slightest movement: worse for sitting up: better for pressure: very thirsty for long drinks of cold water: very irritable: angry, and not only angry, but with sufferings increased by being disturbed mentally or physically: white tongue: in delirium “wants to go home” (even when at home): busy in his dreams and in delirium with his everyday business, you can administer BRYONIA and-bet on the result!.