White bryony (Bryonia alba, Bryonia dioica)

While some complementary and alternative techniques have been studied scientifically, high-quality data regarding safety, effectiveness, and mechanism of action are limited or controversial for most therapies. Whenever possible, it is recommended that practitioners be licensed by a recognized professional organization that adheres to clearly published standards. In addition, before starting a new technique or engaging a practitioner, it is recommended that patients speak with their primary healthcare provider(s). Potential benefits, risks (including financial costs), and alternatives should be carefully considered. The below monograph is designed to provide historical background and an overview of clinically-oriented research, and neither advocates for or against the use of a particular therapy.

Related Terms

  • 3-Beta-hydroxy-27-norcycloartan-24-one, alliaroside, black-berried white bryony, brein, briony, brydiofin, bryoamaride, bryodulcoside, bryogenine, bryonia, Bryonia alba 5 CH, Bryonia cretica, Bryonia cretica ssp. dioica, Bryonia dioica, Bryonia dioica Jacq. fruits, Bryonia dioica L., Bryonia laciniosa, Bryonia syriaca, bryonie, bryoniosides, bryony, cabenoside, canova, canova method, cucurbit, Cucurbitaceae (family), cucurbitacin R diglucoside, cucurbitacins, delta-7-stigmastenol, devil’s turnip, English mandrake, European white bryony, fatty acids, grumpy bear, isomultiflorenol, kua-lou, ladies’ seal, mandrake, N4-(2-hydroxy-ethyl)-L-asparagine, navet du diable (French), red bryony, tamus, tetterberry, tetterbury, trihydroxyoctadecadiene, triterpene glycosides, wild bryony, wild hops, wild nep, wild nepit, wild vine, wood vine.

  • Note: This monograph does not discuss black bryony (Tamus communis), which is a common name for a different plant.

Background

  • White bryony (Bryonia alba and Bryonia dioica) is a perennial, climbing herb with flowers and lobed leaves that resemble an open hand. The plant’s berries are considered poisonous.

  • The root of white bryony has been extracted with alcohol and used at very low doses in homeopathic medications for fevers and dry mouth, respiratory infections, gastrointestinal disorders, and joint pain (applied to the skin). Some homeopathic practitioners believe that the patients who may experience the best outcome with bryony treatment are those who are initially reluctant to move or speak and who feel irritable and weary.

  • However, the homeopathic medicine bryonia was correctly identified only 48.1% of the time by homeopaths when compared with a placebo-containing bottle. In separate research, 60% of homeopaths correctly identified the bottle containing bryonia.

  • Limited research has shown that white bryony may have analgesic (pain-reducing), anti-inflammatory, and antimicrobial effects. However, clinical studies in humans are lacking.

Scientific Evidence

Uses

These uses have been tested in humans or animals. Safety and effectiveness have not always been proven. Some of these conditions are potentially serious, and should be evaluated by a qualified healthcare provider.

Exercise performance enhancement

There is insufficient evidence available to discuss the ability of Bryonia alba to normalize body functions, strengthen body systems, and protect the body from environmental and emotional stress, which could enhance exercise performance. Further research is required in this field.

Pain

There is insufficient available evidence to discuss the use of white bryony for pain. White bryony has been examined as part of a homeopathic preparation, but results are not promising. Further research is required in this field.

*Key to grades:

Tradition

The below uses are based on tradition or scientific theories. They often have not been thoroughly tested in humans, and safety and effectiveness have not always been proven. Some of these conditions are potentially serious and should be evaluated by a qualified health care professional.

  • Abscess (pus-filled cavity), acne, adaptogen (ability to adapt to the environment), AIDS/HIV, allergy, alopecia (hair loss), antifungal, anti-inflammatory, antiviral, arthritis (topical), asthma, cancer, cardiovascular disorders (heart disorders), chilblains (inflammation caused by cold temperatures), colic, constipation, coughs, diabetes, diuretic (promoting urination), emesis (vomiting), epilepsy (seizures), fatigue (tiredness), fever, gastrointestinal (stomach and intestinal) disorders, gout (inflammation of the joints), headache, high blood pressure, hyperpigmentation (darkening of the skin), hysteria (emotional excess), immunomodulation, insomnia, intestinal worms, leprosy, liver disorders, low back pain, malaria, mastitis (inflammation of the mammary gland), mental illness, myalgia (muscle pain), neuralgia (pain along the nerves), paralysis, respiratory tract infections, sciatica (pain along a nerve on the back of the thigh), skin disorders, spleen disorders, tetanus, tonsillitis, tuberculosis, ulcer, warts, whooping cough.

Dosing

The below doses are based on scientific research, publications, traditional use, or expert opinion. Many herbs and supplements have not been thoroughly tested, and safety and effectiveness may not be proven. Brands may be made differently, with variable ingredients, even within the same brand. The below doses may not apply to all products. You should read product labels, and discuss doses with a qualified healthcare provider before starting therapy.

Adults (18 years and older)

  • Fluid extracts of 1/6-1 dram of bryonin (a constituent of white bryony), 1/4-2 grains, or 0.5-1 grams per cup of water have been given by mouth.

  • For treating vomiting, 300-500 milligrams of powdered bryony has been given by mouth.

  • To promote bowel movements, 300-500 milligrams of powdered bryony has been given by mouth.

  • Note: Bryony is given mainly by homeopathic practitioners in extremely small doses.

Children (under 18 years old)

  • There is no proven safe or effective dose for bryony in children.

Safety

The U.S. Food and Drug Administration does not strictly regulate herbs and supplements. There is no guarantee of strength, purity or safety of products, and effects may vary. You should always read product labels. If you have a medical condition, or are taking other drugs, herbs, or supplements, you should speak with a qualified healthcare provider before starting a new therapy. Consult a healthcare provider immediately if you experience side effects.

Allergies

  • Avoid using bryony in individuals with a known allergy or sensitivity to bryony, its parts, or other members of the Cucurbitaceae family.

Side Effects and Warnings

  • When applied to the skin, bryony may cause blisters, dermatosis (skin disease), rash, and redness.

  • Bryony may lower blood sugar levels. Caution is advised in people with diabetes or hypoglycemia, and in those taking drugs, herbs, or supplements that affect blood sugar. Blood glucose levels may need to be monitored by a qualified healthcare professional, including a pharmacist, and medication adjustments may be necessary.

  • Use the extracts from leaves or roots cautiously, as these parts of the plant may be toxic.

  • Avoid the fruit from bryony or white bryony in all patients. Bryony and white bryony fruit is toxic, and eating the fruit may cause abortion, anuria (reduced urination), blisters, colic, collapse, convulsions, cramps, dermatosis (skin disease), diarrhea, dizziness, hematochezia (blood in the stools), kidney damage, nephrosis (kidney disease without inflammation), neurosis (mental disorder), paralysis, rash, and vomiting, as well as death.

  • Avoid using bryony in individuals with a known allergy or sensitivity to bryony or other members of the Cucurbitaceae family.

Pregnancy and Breastfeeding

  • There is currently a lack of scientific evidence on the use of bryony during pregnancy or breastfeeding.

Interactions

Most herbs and supplements have not been thoroughly tested for interactions with other herbs, supplements, drugs, or foods. The interactions listed below are based on reports in scientific publications, laboratory experiments, or traditional use. You should always read product labels. If you have a medical condition, or are taking other drugs, herbs, or supplements, you should speak with a qualified healthcare provider before starting a new therapy.

Interactions with Drugs

  • Bryony may lower blood sugar levels. Caution is advised when using medications that may also lower blood sugar. People taking insulin or drugs for diabetes by mouth should be monitored closely by a qualified healthcare professional, including a pharmacist. Medication adjustments may be necessary.

  • Bryony may also interact with corticosteroids.

Interactions with Herbs and Dietary Supplements

  • Bryony may lower blood sugar levels. Caution is advised when using herbs or supplements that may also lower blood sugar. Blood glucose levels may require monitoring, and doses may need adjustment.

Author Information

  • This information is based on a systematic review of scientific literature edited and peer-reviewed by contributors to the Natural Standard Research Collaboration (www.naturalstandard.com).

References

Natural Standard developed the above evidence-based information based on a thorough systematic review of the available scientific articles. For comprehensive information about alternative and complementary therapies on the professional level, go to www.naturalstandard.com. Selected references are listed below.

  1. Gupta M, Mazumdar UK, Sivakumar T, et al. Evaluation of anti-inflammatory activity of chloroform extract of Bryonia laciniosa in experimental animal models. Biol.Pharm.Bull. 2003;26(9):1342-1344. View Abstract
  2. Karageuzyan KG, Vartanyan GS, Agadjanov MI, Panossian AG, Hoult JR. Restoration of the disordered glucose-fatty acid cycle in alloxan-diabetic rats by trihydroxyoctadecadienoic acids from Bryonia alba, a native Armenian medicinal plant. Planta Med. 1998;64(5):417-422. View Abstract
  3. Khan MT, Choudhary MI, Atta-ur-Rahman, et al. Tyrosinase inhibition studies of cycloartane and cucurbitane glycosides and their structure-activity relationships. Bioorg.Med Chem 9-1-2006;14(17):6085-6088. View Abstract
  4. Mahasneh AM, El Oqlah AA. Antimicrobial activity of extracts of herbal plants used in the traditional medicine of Jordan. J.Ethnopharmacol. 1999;64(3):271-276. View Abstract
  5. McCarney R, Fisher P, Spink F, Flint G, van Haselen R. Can homeopaths detect homeopathic medicines by dowsing? A randomized, double-blind, placebo-controlled trial. J.R.Soc.Med. 2002;95(4):189-191. View Abstract
  6. Paris A, Gonnet N, Chaussard C, et al. Effect of homeopathy on analgesic intake following knee ligament reconstruction: a phase III monocentre randomized placebo controlled study. Br J Clin Pharmacol 2008;65(2):180-187. View Abstract
  7. Pieroni A. Medicinal plants and food medicines in the folk traditions of the upper Lucca Province, Italy. J.Ethnopharmacol. 2000;70(3):235-273. View Abstract
  8. Seligmann IC, Lima PD, Cardoso PC, et al. The anticancer homeopathic composite “Canova Method” is not genotoxic for human lymphocytes in vitro. Genet.Mol.Res. 6-30-2003;2(2):223-228. View Abstract
  9. Sivakumar T, Perumal P, Kumar RS, et al. Evaluation of analgesic, antipyretic activity and toxicity study of Bryonia laciniosa in mice and rats. Am.J.Chin Med. 2004;32(4):531-539. View Abstract
  10. Suganda AG, Amoros M, Girre L, Fauconnier B. [Inhibitory effects of some crude and semi-purified extracts of indigenous French plants on the multiplication of human herpesvirus 1 and poliovirus 2 in cell culture]. J.Nat.Prod. 1983;46(5):626-632. View Abstract
  11. Varshney JP, Naresh R. Comparative efficacy of homeopathic and allopathic systems of medicine in the management of clinical mastitis of Indian dairy cows. Homeopathy 2005;94(2):81-85. View Abstract

The information in this monograph is intended for informational purposes only, and is meant to help users better understand health concerns. Information is based on review of scientific research data, historical practice patterns, and clinical experience. This information should not be interpreted as specific medical advice. Users should consult with a qualified healthcare provider for specific questions regarding therapies, diagnosis and/or health conditions, prior to making therapeutic decisions.