Bryonia root (Bryoniae radix)

Published July 6, 1988.
List of German Commission E Monographs (Phytotherapy)


Name of Drug

Bryoniae radix, bryonia root.

Composition of Drug

Bryonia root consists of the dried tap-root of Bryonia cretica L. ssp. dioica (Jacquin) Tutin and/or B. alba L. [Fam. Cucurbitaceae], as well as preparations thereof.


Bryonia root is used as a laxative, emetic, and diuretic, also in combinations for various diseases of the gastrointestinal tract, the respiratory tract, for all forms of arthritis, for metabolic disorders, for liver diseases, and as prophylaxis and therapy of acute and chronic infections.

The emetic and laxative effectiveness is undisputed.

The effectiveness of the other applications is not verified.


The following effects have been observed following ingestion of bryonia root preparations: dizziness, vomiting, severe colic, severe watery and sometimes bloody diarrhea, kidney damage, abortion, nervous excitement, and convulsions.

Bryonia contains cucurbitacins, some of which have strong cytotoxic properties.


Since the effectiveness of bryonia preparations for the claimed applications is not documented, and since the use of it as a drastic laxative and emetic is obsolete, a therapeutic administration cannot be justified because of the risks involved.