Bryonia dioica, known by the common names red bryony and white bryony is a perennial climbing vine indigenous to Central and Southern Europe. It is a flowering plant of the genus Bryonia with five-pointed leaves and blue or white flowers. The vine produces a red berry fruit.
A powerful cathartic and purgative. It is primarily prescribed for painful rheumatic conditions. The root is cathartic, cytotoxic, diaphoretic, expectorant, hydrogogue, irritant, pectoral, purgative and vermifuge. It is used in small quantities internally in the treatment of various inflammatory conditions, bronchial complaints, asthma, intestinal ulcers, hypertension and arthritis. Externally, it is applied as a rubefacient to muscular and joint pains and pleurisy. The root, which can be 75cm long and 75mm thick, can be used fresh at any time of the year, it can also be harvested in the autumn and be dried for later use. The whole herb has an antiviral effect.
B. dioica is generally toxic to humans. Application of its juice to the skin produces inflammation with a rash or ulcers, and consumption of this juice causes intense gastrointestinal irritation including nausea and vomiting in small doses, and anxiety, paralysis, or death in larger amounts.
The seed of this vine, by contrast, is safely edible, and finds use in Western Europe as an ingredient in starch dishes.