What Is Bryonia?

Bryonia (B. alba), also known as bryony, is a plant commonly used as a homeopathic remedy for headaches, muscle pain, cold or flu symptoms, coughs, nausea, and constipation. It’s also sometimes used to provide relief for the symptoms of chronic conditions such as arthritis, cancer, liver disease, and metabolic disorders. 

Bryonia alba flower
Tom Meeker / Getty Images

The Bryonia plant is in the gourd family. Native to Northern and Eastern Europe, this perennial climbing vine has white flowers, red berries, and a thick, fleshy root with a strong, bitter odor.

The Bryonia plant is toxic when consumed, and homeopathic remedies should only be prepared by certified homeopathic practitioners. The root is the part of the plant used in homeopathic healing, and the Bryonia remedy is diluted to an extent that only a few (or even no) molecules of the original substance are present. 

Though Bryonia has been used for thousands of years as a healing remedy for several ailments, there is little to no scientific evidence to back up the claims of its effectiveness. Let’s explore some of the purported health benefits and potential side effects of taking Bryonia. 

Also Known As

Other names for Bryonia include:

  • Root of white bryony
  • Black-berried bryony
  • False mandrake 
  • Wild hops

What Is Bryonia Used For?

Bryonia is used as a plant-based homeopathic remedy. Homeopathy is a complementary therapy that uses very small amounts of natural substances to treat symptoms that would otherwise be caused by the natural substance when taken in higher amounts, under the premise of “like cures like.”

People who use Bryonia as a homeopathic remedy believe the plant has healing properties that offer certain health benefits. It has traditionally been used as a homeopathic remedy for persons in which symptoms develop slowly but are accompanied by irritability, lethargy, decreased mental clarity, and intense pain, often worsened with movement.

It is commonly used for cold and flu-like illnesses, spasmodic cough, and rheumatic pains, as well as to treat acute abdominal situations like gastroenteritis, diarrhea, nausea, and vomiting.

Constipation and Fluid Retention

In its herbal application, extracts of Bryonia may be used to relieve constipation or as an emetic, inducing vomiting. It is also a diuretic and can be used to encourage urination to decrease fluid retention, potentially aiding hypertensive states.

Joint Pain 

Some people believe that Bryonia has anti-inflammatory effects, and take it to reduce joint pain and inflammation. Bryonia roots have historically been used in Turkish folk medicine, applied to arthritic joints to relieve pain.

Bryonia is also often combined with other homeopathic remedies and touted as an arthritis remedy, aimed at reducing inflammation in the joints to provide pain relief.


In herbal applications, Bryonia may have potential as a complementary therapy for those undergoing cancer treatment. The extracts from Bryonia root may have properties that fight against tumors, helping slow the spread of cancer cells in the body.

The potent extracts used for cancer patients require a prescription and need more testing to determine their safety for human use. An in vitro study showed that Bryonia root extract had a toxic effect on two cancer types—head and neck squamous cell carcinoma and cervix adenocarcinoma.

At present, there is no evidence in human clinical trials to prove the effectiveness of Bryonia in reducing cancer cell growth. More research is needed to assess the possible anti-tumor properties of Bryonia. 

Possible Side Effects

Herbal applications of Bryonia can cause side effects even when taken in small amounts. Homeopathic preparations are extremely diluted before use and must be prepared carefully and correctly by a licensed professional.

Side effects of Bryonia include: 

  • Diarrhea 
  • Dizziness
  • Fatigue
  • Nausea
  • Shortness of breath
  • Vomiting 

Berries from the Bryonia plant are poisonous and can cause death when consumed. 

Dosage and Preparation

Bryonia has been used for its medicinal purposes for thousands of years, though its popularity is waning as safer options become more available. There is not currently enough scientific information to determine the appropriate dosage of Bryonia.

Bryonia homeopathic formulations are produced by extracting the gummy resin from the roots and extensively diluting the resin. The Food and Drug Administration has not evaluated Bryonia to determine its safety and efficacy. 

Suggested dosages vary, depending on age, health status, and other medications, supplements, and herbal remedies you are currently taking. It is important to only use Bryonia as a homeopathic remedy under the supervision of a certified homeopathic practitioner.

What to Look For

Bryonia is currently available in pellet (dissolvable tablet) and liquid extract forms as a homeopathic remedy.

Bryonia can be harmful when taken in measurable doses. For this reason, it is rarely found on the market for consumers as an herbal remedy or dietary supplement. If you opt to use Bryonia as an herbal remedy, it’s important to do so under the advice of a skilled herbalist to avoid serious side effects.

At this time, there are no FDA-approved homeopathic remedies, including Bryonia. This means that any product labeled as homeopathic is not evaluated for safety and efficacy in the United States. 

As with any homeopathic remedy, it is important to consult your healthcare provider and/or pharmacist before taking it, particularly if you are currently taking any medications or using other herbal or homeopathic remedies. 

Other Questions 

Can I take Bryonia while pregnant or breastfeeding? 

Bryonia is unsafe for people who are pregnant and should not be taken. It is not recommended for use during breastfeeding, as not enough is known about its effects on a nursing baby. 

Can children take Bryonia? 

Bryonia may be safe for children when taken in homeopathic doses. Do not give Bryonia as a homeopathic remedy to a child unless under the supervision of a medical professional. 

Does Bryonia help with the flu? 

Some people believe that Bryonia can help relieve fever, pain, and cough caused by the flu. There is currently no scientific evidence to show that Bryonia is effective in providing relief from cold and flu symptoms. 

A Word From Verywell

As an herbal application, Bryonia may have some benefits as a laxative, diuretic, and anti-inflammatory remedy. There’s not enough scientific evidence on Bryonia’s effectiveness in treating cancer or liver conditions or relieving joint pain and inflammation.

If you’re looking for an herbal remedy with fewer side effects and proven benefits, there are many other plant-based options to consider. While Bryonia in homeopathic doses rarely has side effects, it’s important not to delay conventional treatment by its use when needed.

5 Sources
Verywell Health uses only high-quality sources, including peer-reviewed studies, to support the facts within our articles. Read our editorial process to learn more about how we fact-check and keep our content accurate, reliable, and trustworthy.
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