Bryonia alba, also known as brionia aswhite, It is native to Europe and northern Iran. It has been used for medicinal purposes since at least the fourteenth century, when it was a treatment for leprosy. Today, it is used mostly in homeopathic remedies; They are taken in small doses for the symptoms of arthritis, pain and respiratory diseases. However, another common name for the plant, "Devil's turnip" is an indication of its darker character, in which large amounts of extracts of Bryonia alba can cause serious side effects and even death.
Ingestion of parts of the Bryonia alba plant can cause dizziness, weak pulse, cold sweating, dilated pupils, spasms, convulsions and, finally, can be fatal. According to the Monograph for Herbal Medicinal Products (monograph on medicines) developed by the Ministry of Health and Population of Egypt, the consumption of 40 berries can cause death in adults, and only 15 berries is fatal for children.
Interactions with drugs
One of the main uses of Bryonia alba in folk medicine is as purgative. This cathartic digestive activity can cause a series of problems of absorption of the drug. It can reduce the absorption of vitamin K, which affects patients taking anticoagulants such as warfarin. It can also decrease the absorption of isoniazid, an antidepressant that is also used as a treatment for tuberculosis. Bryonia alba can increase intestinal transit time, which is used for congestive heart failure and for the treatment of certain arrhythmias, reducing the effectiveness of the drug, which could be fatal.
Ingestion of Bryonia alba can not only cause diarrhea, but can also lead to vomiting and inflammation of the stomach and intestinal tract, even producing hemorrhoids, according to "Meyler's Side Effects of Herbal Medicines " These effects are caused by toxic resins that contain cucurbitacins, which are drastic laxatives and emetics that can cause the same symptoms as food poisoning. Even very small doses of this resin can cause severe diarrhea. The effects of the plant can also be stressful to the kidneys, and in large doses lead to kidney damage.
The same cucurbitacins in the resin that cause digestive problems can also lead to irritation and inflammation when the plant extracts are applied to the skin and mucous membranes. Simply touching Bryonia alba can cause skin irritation and a longer contact between the juice and the skin can cause redness, rashes, infections, blisters and necrosis (the death of the skin tissue).
Health in women
According to the monograph of the Ministry of Health and Population Egypt, women should be especially careful when using the Bryonia alba. Large doses can precipitate menstruation and even cause miscarriage in pregnant women.