This section is from the book "A Practitioner's Handbook Of Materia Medica And Therapeutics", by Thos. S. Blair. Also available from Amazon: A Practitioner's handbook of Materia Medica and Therapeutics.
Physiologic Action In Small Doses. A mild excitement of the peripheral nerves and capillaries is produced, lessening arterial tension, quieting the sympathetics, and somewhat reducing the frequency of the pulse. It promotes the elimination of heat. It has an action similar to aconite upon inflammatory processes, and opposes inflammatory dryness of mucous membranes, but its most marked influence is upon the serous membranes and their contained viscera. In a word, bryonia does for serous membranes what aconite does for mucous membranes.
. In large doses bryonia is too irritant a drug for safe administration, not only influencing the gastrointestinal system but also seriously depressing the nervous system. I cannot forego, in this connection, calling attention to the fact that the so-called "law of similars" must be seriously warped to make bryonia fit purely homeopathic indications, and, on the other hand, the therapy in small doses very often cannot be predicated from the physiologic action of a drug in large doses. In small doses bryonia is a highly useful agent in the treatment of thoracic and pleuritic acute inflammatory states with hacking cough and painful inspiration. Hence its value in pleurisy, pneumonia, and acute bronchitis. In the early stages of these diseases it alternates well with aconite or non-stimulating expectorants, such as ipecac or asclepias. In typhoid pneumonia it is an excellent remedy, and in pleurisy it slowly removes effusion when present. Naturally, it cannot be expected to meet all indications alone. It possesses a marked advantage over aconite in the fact that its administration can be long continued, while aconite usually should not be. For this reason it is useful in chronic bronchitis, if combined with stimulating expectorants if secretion is free; or with sedatives, alteratives, or non-stimulating expectorants if it is scanty.
In abdominal diseases its influence is felt more especially in peritonitis, and in very mild cases it will control the pain without opium. Other necessary measures must not be neglected. A tender, sensitive liver is much relieved by this drug. Pericarditis with exudation, congestive headaches, mild meningeal attacks with slight effusion, non-septic in character, rheumatic inflammation of the heart or pericardium,and orchitis are all diseases in which bryonia finds a place. Rheumatic fever and arthritic troubles generally with serous effusion, as well as chronic rheumatic affections with stiff and swollen joints, all respond kindly to the drug. In muscular rheumatism it acts in harmony with cimicifuga. Dose, ec. tr. 1-10 to 2 I., commonly 1/4 to 1/2 I. frequently repeated. @, I to 5 111.. In children, or for long-continued use, the first decimal dilution does nicely, and there are many cases in which reducing the dose gradually gives better results than does increasing it.