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Bryony

  • Bryonia alba L.
  • Gourd family



Common Names

herbsKua-lou
herbsLadies' seal
herbsTamus
herbsTetterberry
herbsWhite bryony
herbsWild bryony
herbsWild hops
herbsWild vine
herbsWood vine


Parts Usually Used

Rootstock


Description of Plant(s) and Culture

White bryony is a perennial climbing plant; the prickly stem grows to a length of 10 feet and climbs using spiral tendrils that grow opposite to the leaves. The rootstock is dirty white, spindle-shaped and fleshy and contains milky juice. The leaves are cordate, five-lobed, and rough. Small, greenish-white or yellowish flowers grow in axillary corymbs from June or August. The fruit is a black, pea-sized berry.

Another variety: Red bryony (B. dioica) contains a dangerously poisonous resin.


Where Found

Cultivated in the United States and Europe, and occasionally found wild in moist areas and vineyards of Europe.


Medicinal Properties

Pectoral, purgative, anti-rheumatic


Legends, Myths and Stories

Bryony was considered a wicked plant in the Middle Ages. Medieval con men passed off carved bryony roots as mandrakes, making great profits and deceiving many people, including childless women who bought the root as a fertility drug or charm.


Uses

White bryony is a powerful purgative. In Germany, the rootstock is hollowed out and filled with beer. After 1 to 2 days, the beer is taken, a tsp. at a time, for constipation. The dried root is sometimes used for whooping cough. Also used for rheumatism, epilepsy, dizziness, palsy, dropsy, leprosy, convulsions, cramps, kidney stones, cough, shortness of breath. Externally, used to remove freckles, relieve sunburn, cleanse ulcers, sores, wounds, bruises, boils.


Formulas or Dosages

Except in an emergency, do not use white bryony without medical supervision.

Infusion: use 1 tsp. granulated rootstock with 1 pint boiling water. Take 1 tsp. every 1 or 2 hours, or as required.

Tincture: a dose is 5-10 drops.


Warning

White byrony purges violently; should have medical supervision.

The rootstock is poisonous in large doses. The berries are very poisonous. 40 berries will kill an adult; 15 berries will kill a child.

Another variety: Red bryony (B. dioica) contains a dangerously poisonous resin. Do not use either Red or White Byrony without medical supervision.

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