Description:There are two kinds of Bryony; the White Bryonia Alba; (called by some persons the Red Bryonia Dioica; ) and the Black, Bryonia Nigra,vel Tams Communis. The WHITE BRYONIA is a tall, climbing wild plant, growing in hedges. The leaves are somewhat like those of the vine; the flowers are white, but inconsiderable, the berries are red, and are very showy. The root is very large, rough, and whitish; the stalks are tough, ten or twelve feet long; but weak and unable to support themselves; by tendrils at the joints they fix themselves to bushes. The leaves are broad and divided deeply at the edge, of a hoary green colour. The whitish flowers are on a long tuft, consisting of five small leaves each open like a star. The berries hang like a cluster of grapes, very red when ripe, having a loathsome taste, producing nausea.
Herbal Remedies and Medicinal Uses of Bryony:The root powdered, or decocted, is a very strong purgative, even if a small dose be taken. Great caution ought therefore to be exercised in taking it. It is a capital remedy for dropsies, hysterics, given in minute doses. For dropsies, two drachms of the root to six ounces of water, sweetened to the taste—take a spoonful every two hours.
Many cases of dropsies it has cured. Very weak people should begin with a less dose. The same will apply to hysteric complaints. Dr. Sydenham recommended for maniacal disorders—a drachm of the powder in a gill of milk—or an infusion of the leaves, say about half an ounce in a gill of white wine; begin with a tea-spoonful at a time. The infusion is milder than the root in substance; and Dr. Lewis says, that an extract prepared by water acts more mildly, and with greater safety, than the root itself; given from half a drachm to a drachm, it proves a gentle purgative; it operates powerfully by urine. It is good for diseases of the head by drawing away rheumatic humours. An electuary made of the root with honey proves a powerful expectorant. The root, leaves, and fruit boiled, are good to cleanse old sores, cankers, and gangrene; and the decoction frees the face from freckles, black and blue spots, etcetera.
The BLACK BRYONY, Bryonia Nigra, vel Tames Communis. The plant climbs upon bushes and hedges like the former; but this by twisting its stalk about the branches of trees and shrubs, for it has no tendrils. It runs to fifteen feet in height; the stalk is tough and angular; the leaves are broad, and of a heart-like shape, perfectly smooth and shining, and of a glossy and deep blackish green. The flowers are very small, and of a greenish white; the berries are red; the root black without, white within, and full of a slimy juice.
Herbal Remedies and Medicinal Uses of Bryony:
—This herb ought not to be neglected, as its medicinal qualities are great, equal to any, and surpassing most herbs. It is very efficacious in epilepsy, and rheumatism. Dr. Thornton has witnessed its efficacy in cases of gout, rheumatism, and paralytic affections. The root is scraped with a knife, and the scrapings which feel like soap, are to be rubbed over the affected parts once a day. Immediately a momentary sense of tingling is felt, like that produced by nettles; and this mild rubefacient he has found also to do good in cases of Asthma, when rubbed over the chest.
The root of Black Bryony is one of the best diuretics known in medicine. It is a good remedy for gravel, obstruction of urine, and other disorders of the kidneys. The root has been thought to be the celebrated mandrake, and I believe that in some parts they call it by that name; but Mandrake is a different plant, though it possesses some of its properties.
Dr. Tissot says, a poultice made of the leaves of Bryony is an excellent remedy for painful tumours, rheumatism, and lumbago. The juice of Bryony, turpentine, and a small portion of wax, is a grand remedy for old sores, scrofulas, etcetera.
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