Bryony or Couluvée: Poisonous or Miraculous?

Bryony is a herbaceous dioecious plant of the Cucurbitaceae family. It is native to continental Europe and southern England. However, currently, there are large quantities in Africa and the Middle East. Its scientific name is Bryonia dioica. This plant also has other more common names that emphasize its toxicity. We can, for example, cite: devil’s turnip, couluvée, snake root, grass of fire or blazing fire. Despite this dangerous side, the bryony also has therapeutic virtues. It is mainly composed of flavonoids, unsaturated fatty acids, sterols and tetracyclic triterpenes called cucurbitacins.

In which cases to use bryony?

Bryony is mainly used in natural medicine for its purgative and diuretic properties. It is also used for relieve symptoms of rheumatism, arthritis and gout. The devil’s turnip, due to its anti-inflammatory property, can, in fact, soothe joint pain as well as inflammation in the respiratory tract.

In addition, bryony is effective in lowering blood pressure.

What are its different forms of use?

The parts of the plant most used in herbal medicine are the young shoots and the root. They can come in several forms, namely: mother tincture, powder, dry extracts, granules, infusion, decoction or poultice.

What is the recommended dose for proper use?

Bryony can be used internally or externally. Besides, it is always important to pay attention to the dosage. This varies depending on the form used.

  • Decoction : infuse 10 to 15 g of bryony root in 1 liter of water. This preparation can be used externally, to be applied to the skin in case of rheumatism.
  • Poultice: Grate the pulp from the root and mix with an equal amount of breadcrumbs. The mixture can also be applied to the skin by a compress or gauze.
  • Granules: seek the advice of a doctor
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What are the side effects and contraindications of bryony?

The bryony is a poisonous plant thanks to its root. All parts of the plant are poisonous. Therefore, its use should be moderate.

Moreover, being easy to plant, it is easily found in gardens as well as in town. In such cases, it is important to supervise the children. Indeed, a simple contact can cause serious skin inflammation. Bryony can also cause diarrhea, vomiting, cramps and fits of delirium. In children, an ingestion of ten berries can lead to death. This is also the case in an adult who consumes a high quantity (about 40 berries).

In addition, before considering a treatment with bryone, it is advisable to first consult the advice of a doctor or a health professional in order to prevent any adverse effects.


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