Facts about White Bryony

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White Bryony Quick Facts
Name: White Bryony
Scientific Name: Bryonia alba
Origin Europe and Northern Iran
Colors Initially light green, and change to black when mature
Shapes Spherical berries pea sized about 1.5 cm (0.59 in) in diameter
Taste Bitter
Health benefits Good for cold and influenza(flu), dry coughs, headaches, joint pain and breast problems
White Bryony commonly known as Bryonia alba is a vigorous vine in the cucumber family, Cucurbitaceae (squashes and melons). The plant is native to Europe and Northern Iran. It has also been introduced to the United States, where it is listed as a noxious weed in Washington, Idaho, and Montana. It has a growth habit similar to kudzu, which gives it a highly destructive potential outside its native range as a noxious weed. Other common names of the plant are Wild Hops, Wild Nep, Wild Vine, Wood Vine, Bastard turnip, Black-berried bryony, Black-berried white bryony, European white bryony, Parsnip turnip, Snake weed, false mandrake,tetterbury, Brionia, Bryone, Bryone Blanche, Bryone Dioïque, Bryonia alba,Bryonia cretica, Bryonia dioca, Bryoniae Radix, Couleuvrée, Devil’s Turnip,English Mandrake, Herbe de Feu, Ladies’ Seal, Mandragore Grimpante, Navet du Diable, Rave de Serpent, Tamus, Tetterberry, Vigne Blanche and Vigne du Diable.

White bryony takes its name from its scientific name Alba,meaning ’white’, but in fact its flowers are no whiter than its berries. Its corolla is lime green and its berries are pitch black. The name comes from the plant’s white latex. The plants grow quickly and usually grow to a height of 10 feet attaching themselves to nearby trees with the help of their tendrils. The whole plant is rather succulent, bright green and somewhat shining.

Plant Description

White bryony is a rapidly growing herbaceous, perennial plant or vigorous vine that grows about 2–3 m (80–120 in.) tall. The plant is usually found growing in old gardens, walls, fences, roadsides and dump. The plant has thick tuberous root that is dirty white, fleshy and encircles a milky juice that has a horrible smell. Leaves are palm-shaped, alternate, broadly five lobed which are covered on upper and lower surfaces by small white glands.Terminal leaflet is modified into a tendril that is rough-hairy.


The plant has small greenish-yellow or yellowish flowers with green veins and has 5 petals that measure ½ inch across, that grow in cluster at the axil. There are separate male and female flowers.  The male flowers are larger than the female ones.  They have 5 sepals, and 5 green veined petals, and 5 stamens (one free and two joined pairs). The female flowers are smaller and have 3 downy stigmas. The petals have small hairs on them. Flowering normally takes place from May to June. The fertile flowers are easily distinguished from the barren by the presence of an ovary beneath the calyx and are generally either stalk less (sessile) or with very short stalks – two to five together.


Fertile flowers are followed by thin-skinned smooth surfaced and globular fruits (berries) that usually enclose one or two seeds. These berries are spherical and have size of a pea about 1.5 cm (0.59 in) in diameter. Fruits are initially light green, and change to black when mature. Fruits are filled with juice of an unpleasant, fetid odor and contain three to six large seeds that are slight ovoid to oblong, somewhat flattened, grayish-yellow, mottled with black, and are unwholesome to eat.


Bartholomew’s Anglicus tells us that Augustus Caesar wore a wreath of bryony during a thunderstorm to protect himself from lightning. The nauseous and bitter root juice was recommended by Galen and Dioscorides as a violent purgative. Called wild nep, it was valued in the 14th century as an antidote to leprosy. Nowadays since it is toxic it is found used in limited amount for curing several health problems.

Different properties and Uses

Culpeper says it is a “furious martial plant,” good for many complaints such as “stitches in the side, palsies, cramps, convulsions…The root cleanse the skin wonderfully from all black and blue spots, freckles, morphew, leprosy, foul scars, or other deformity whatsoever: as also all running scabs and manginess.” The root is acrid and cathartic and the berries poisonous. The root was given for dropsy, sciatica, rheumatism, lumbago, gout, pleurisy, influenza, bronchitis and whooping cough. If applied to the skin, the root produces redness and even blisters. Withering noted that a decoction made by boiling one pound of the fresh root in water is “the best purge for horned cattle.”

Health benefits of White Bryony

Listed below are few of the homeopathic remedy of using White Bryony. Consult with a qualified healthcare provider for specific questions regarding therapies and/or health conditions, and prior to making therapeutic decisions

1.Cold and influenza(flu)

Patients who undergo physical symptoms like reddened, tender and distended nose, a hoarse and tightened throat as well as a dry cough may find the homeopathic remedy White Bryony beneficial. Such patients generally have cracked and itchy lips, while their mouth is dehydrated and there is a white coating on the tongue. The other physical symptoms of patients needing White Bryony may include an acute and terrible headache, an intense thirst as well as profuse sweating.

2. Dry coughs

White Bryony is an ideal homeopathic remedy for people who suffer from tremendous dehydration in the mouth, throat, mucous membranes and chest accompanied by an irritating cough and stabbing chest pain. The patient generally finds relief from headaches, pain in the rib cage or the chest when he/ she press the chest when there is a cough outburst.

3. Headaches

People requiring White Bryony are those who tolerate a rupturing, splitting headache on their forehead or above the left eye and even the slightest movement of the eyeball hurts them. The pain gradually spreads to the rear of the head and, subsequently, to their entire head and usually the condition continues for the whole day. In such cases, the patients may have dehydrated mouth and may experience an intense thirst.

4. Joint pain

When the joints as well as the muscles become hot, distended and rigid accompanied by a sharp pain, normally owing to arthritis, gout or tenosynovitis or following any type of injury, using the homeopathic remedy White Bryony provides relief from the symptoms.

5. Breast problems

White Bryony is an effective homeopathic remedy for treating breast that turn pale, hot and firm accompanied by piercing pains, especially in pregnant women or nursing mothers.


Traditional uses and benefits of White Bryony

  • Root is cathartic, hydrogogue, irritant,pectoral and purgative.
  • Fresh root, gathered before the plant comes into flower, is made into a homeopathic remedy.
  • It is said to be one of the best diuretics and an excellent remedy for gravel as well as all other obstructions and disorders of the urinary passage.
  • It was formerly given in dropsy and other complaints.
  • It has been used for cataplasms, and praised as a remedy for sciatica, rheumatism and lumbago.
  • It is considered useful in small doses for cough, influenza, bronchitis and pneumonia.
  • It has also been recommended for pleurisy and whooping-cough, relieving the pain and allaying the cough.
  • It has proved of value in cardiac disorders caused by rheumatism and gout, also in malarial and zymotic diseases.
  • Dried root of the plant is used for whooping cough.
  • The herb is used for joint pains and muscle aches.
  • It is used for the treatment of rheumatic fever and rheumatic arthritis.
  • White bryony is used as a laxative to relieve constipation and as an emetic.
  • White bryony is also used to treat stomach and intestinal diseases, lung diseases, arthritis, liver disease, and metabolic disorders; and to prevent infections.
  • It is also used to increase urination to relieve fluid retention.
  • Ancient Greeks and Romans, utilized medicines prepared from the plant to treat leprosy.
  • Herbalists recommend the use of white bryony to treat conditions like respiratory, gastrointestinal and rheumatic problems.
  • Different extracts obtained from the white bryony demonstrates an anti-tumoral consequence.
  • It is highly effective in treating a number of physical conditions, including suffering or pain in severe inflammatory ailments that are intensified by movement augmented by pressure, high body temperature with firm, recurrent and vibratory pulse rate, aching muscular structure as they are when bruised, harsh lung or bronchial problems without any sign of exuding accumulated cough, dry cough, soreness heightened by continuous coughing, flushed right cheek frontal pain spreading to the basilar area and irritating cough.
  • Previously it was used internally in small doses to treat conditions like asthma, bronchitis, intestinal ulcers, and hypertension.
  • Medications prepared with white bryony were once also used externally as a rubefacient for joint pains and aching muscle, and also for pleurisy.
  • Herb encourages the removal of surplus heat from the body and also fights the dehydration of the mucous membranes caused by inflammation that defers secretion.
  • White bryony also works on the viscera that are usually wrapped by the serous membranes.
  • It is considered to be effective in treating enteritis, inflammation of the glandular organs as well as pulmonary and bronchial inflammations.
  • Several herbalists have often used white bryony in combination with other useful herbs for the treatment of the gastro-intestinal tract, arthritis, respiratory tract, metabolic disorders and liver problems.
  • It helps in alleviating symptoms like soreness on pressure, pain aggravated by movement or insignificant shooting pains.
  • It has also been used as part of therapy for chronic and acute contagion.
  • White bryony as well as medications prepared with it resists breakdown of tissues as well as formation of pus.
  • White bryony is highly effective in curing all types of severe inflammations of the thoracic viscera or the pleura.
  • White bryony may also be recommended to treat pneumonitis.
  • It is highly effective in the treatment of synovitis accompanied by excruciating pains during movements in any part of the body.
  • It is also essential in the treatment of rheumatic conditions wherein the suffering becomes intense due to motion and results in abrupt and piercing pains, mostly in places where there is any severe rheumatic swelling of the finger joints.
  • White bryony is useful in controlling fevers in infants when movements results in intense pain and is demonstrated by the loud crying of the small children.
  • It is also effective in relieving fever that is accompanied with piercing pains and intense soreness in infants suffering from feverish conditions.
  • It should be administered to patients enduring long-drawn-out fevers accompanied by dehydrated mucous membranes, fissures on the lips, abnormally intense thirst, constipation, dry and hard stool, absence or very little dark colored and high specific gravity urination.
  • It should be administered in small dosages and continued for a considerable period so that the patient does not suffer any depression or mood swings.
  • White bryony should essentially be used to treat severe cases of appendicitis.
  • White bryony is recommended for the treatment of peritonitis accompanied by sharp pain and tenderness in the abdomen, vomiting, constipation, mild temperature, flushed face and anxious appearance.
  • It is also extremely useful in treating harsh rheumatic inflammations of the heart or pericardium.
  • It is also an excellent remedy for treating typhoid, especially in conditions such as typhoid pneumonia or broncho-pneumonia or in pleuro-pneumonia with complications of typhoid.
  • When white bryony is given to patients suffering from mastitis or orchitis it works wonders and helps to alleviate the conditions, especially when either of these conditions are accompanied by high fever, sharp and excruciating pains and flushed face.

Culinary uses

  • Starch of the root is a famine food for extending bread flour after removing the acrid element.
  • Young shoots are eaten. (Caution: It is probably very poisonous)


  • All parts of the plant, and especially the root,are poisonous.
  • Root can cause severe diarrhea and vomiting, resulting in death within a matter of hours.
  • Larger doses may be poisonous.
  • Ingesting the herb or products prepared with it may result in kidney damage, vomiting, seizures and even undesired abortion.
  • It is used as a homeopathic medication; it is effective in treating fevers with symptoms of dry mouth and intense thirst.
  • At fairly low doses, white bryony can cause many side effects including dizziness, vomiting, convulsions, colic, bloody diarrhea, abortion, nervous excitement, and kidney damage.
  • Just touching fresh white bryony can cause skin irritation.
  • Eating the berries can cause death.
  • White bryony is unsafe for pregnant women and breast-feeding women when taken by mouth.
  • White bryony can cause a miscarriage in addition to serious health consequences for the pregnant or breast-feeding woman.
  • White bryony is likely unsafe for children when taken by mouth.
  • White bryony can irritate the stomach and intestines and can make GI problems worse.
  • When applied to the skin, bryony may cause blisters, dermatitis (skin disease), rash, and redness.
  • Bryony may lower blood sugar levels; caution is advised in people with diabetes or hypoglycemia.
  • Avoid using bryony in individuals with a known allergy or sensitivity to bryony or other members of the Cucurbitaceae family.

Molded into “Mandrakes”

The root used to be seen suspended in herb shops, sometimes trimmed into a rude human form. In Green’s Universal Herbal of 1832 we read:“The roots of Bryony grow to a vast size and have been formerly by imposters brought into a human shape, carried about the country and shown for Mandrakes to the common people. The method which these knaves practiced was to open the earth round a young, thriving Bryony plant, being careful not to disturb the lower fibers of the root; to fix a mould, such as is used by those who make plaster figures, close to the root, and then to fill in the earth about the root, leaving it to grow to the shape of the mould, which is effected in one summer.






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