In a recent facebook post I asked readers where they would least expect to see the following symptom:
“It is intolerable to him to keep the affected part still, he moves it up and down.”
Understandably, most opted for Bryonia. Of course. We know of Bryonia as the remedy for those who have to keep completely still. For those who are so sensitive that even if you jar their beds slightly they go into paroxysms of whatever they are suffering from at the time.
It is true that when symptoms agree, Bryonia will be relevant in this need to keep still. Rhus Tox will be relevant in the need to move. However, to quote from Porgy and Bess – it ain’t necessarily so. The above symptom appears as symptom 593 in the proving of Bryonia.
Hahnemann writes about this possibility in his introduction to the proving of Bryonia:
The similarity of its [Bryonia’s] effects to many of the symptoms of Rhus Toxicodendron cannot fail to be noticed; in the preface to the latter medicine I have sufficiently dwelt upon this. At the same time Bryonia affects the disposition quite differently, its fever consists chiefly of chilliness, and its symptoms are mostly excited or aggravated by corporeal exertion, although its alternating effects, when the symptoms are relieved by movement, are not very rare.
Hence, when using Bryonia in diseases, there occur cases where the remedy, although chosen as homoeopathically as possible and given in sufficiently small dose, does not render adequate service in the first twenty four hours. The reason of this is that only one, and that the wrong series, of its alternating actions corresponded. In such cases a fresh dose administered after twenty-four hours effects amelioration by the production of the opposite alternating actions. …. This happens with only very few other medicines having alternating actions (vide the preface to Ignatia), but it occurs not rarely with Bryonia.
Rhus Tox and Bryonia are very similar remedies. This is often overlooked in the way the “better/worse for movement” issue is emphasized by so many. I have a case at present where I gave Rhus-Tox but it would have been easy to give Bryonia instead. The differential between the two in this case (which I’ll write up in the future) rested on other modalities and symptoms, not on anything to do with movement.
Although Bryonia’s symptoms are mainly worse for movement or exercise, you can have cases where the patient will be better for movement and all other symptoms will be pointing to Bryonia. And Bryonia will be the right remedy.
But because Bryonia is one of a group of remedies, which includes Ignatia and Rhus Tox, which produce alternating effects, the first time you give Bryonia, you might get no positive response, no action. This is because the “flip side” of Bryonia’s actions was called into play, which may not have had relevance to the symptoms. Hahnemann recommends giving a second dose after 24 hours to call up the alternating process, and bring improvement through the right set of symptoms.
It’s always important to be certain of the prescription, but especially where remedies with alternating actions are concerned, as it may often be necessary to prescribe a further dose of a remedy that does not seem to be helping, and it’s essential to understand the reason why it is not helping.
And with Bryonia, Hahnemann tells us, this can happen quite often. It is certainly not rare. Forewarned is forearmed!
I.H.M. senior homoeopathic Practitioner Vera Resnick