Bryonia (Bryonia laciniosa) is an ancient Ayurvedic plant primarily known as an aphrodisiac and for its ability to boost testosterone and improve male fertility.
It's found in many testosterone boosters.
While research on bryonia is limited to a few animal studies, preliminary results show that various parts of the plant — from the seeds to the leaves — may also be beneficial in the treatment of joint inflammation, diabetes, fever and pain.
Bryonia fruit extract contains numerous phytochemicals (natural bioactive compounds found in plants) such as terpenoids, flavonoids, triterpenoids and saponins, which provide protective health benefits and can aid in the treatment and prevention of certain medical conditions (1).
The plant also contains punicic acid (an omega-5 fatty acid with anti-inflammatory and anti-diabetic effects), goniothalamin (a natural compound with anti-inflammatory properties) and glucomannan (a natural dietary fiber) (2).
Bryonia boosts testosterone levels in male rats. In a 2010 issue of the International Journal of Impotence Research, researchers published their findings on the ability of bryonia laciniosa seeds to increase testosterone in male rats. Ethanolic extract of bryonia seeds was administered orally to a group of albino rats for 28 days. At the end of the testing period, serum testosterone and luteinizing hormone (LH) levels were significantly increased in all the treated groups (3).
LH and testosterone play a pivotal role in the reproductive ability in men; LH stimulates the production of testosterone, which in turn stimulates sperm production.
Bryonia has an effect on male sex organs. Results from the same study also noted an increase in the weight of male sex organs, including the testis, prostate, epididymis and seminal vesicle. The ethanolic extract also had an aphrodisiac effect on the animals and all the parameters studied exhibited improved sexual performance. (4).
Researchers also noted an increase in fructose concentration in the seminal vesicles (5). This may prove beneficial in the treatment of male infertility as fructose is the main nutrient to sperm cells. Fructose also ensures the proper motility (or movement) of sperm through the woman’s reproductive tract to successfully fertilize the egg.
Bryonia may play a role in future diabetic treatment. The results of a study published in a 2015 issue of Pharmacognosy Journal, demonstrated the effects of the ethanolic extract of seeds of bryonia laciniosa and its bioactive compound, saponin, on various biochemical parameters in streptozotocin-induced diabetic rats. After receiving an oral administration of the ethanolic extract and saponin fraction for 28 days, the rats had a significant decrease in blood glucose levels and an improvement in the levels of plasma insulin (6).
What’s more, bryonia showed great potential in improving renal function and preventing liver damage associated with streptozotocin diabetes.
While experts in the medical community are hopeful that bryonia may be considered as a future medication for diabetes, they stress the fact that much more research is needed.
Bryonia has shown promising anti-inflammatory effects. In one study, chloroform extract of bryonia leaves given to rats and mice in doses of 50, 100 and 200 mg/kg, resulted in significant anti-inflammatory activity. The extract also had the ability to significantly inhibit paw edema in rats.
Bryonia acts as a fever-reducer. Researchers found that methanol extract of bryonia had significant antipyretic (fever-reducing) activity in mice and rats. The study, published in the American Journal of Chinese Medicine, also monitored toxicity levels in rats given 125 and 250 mg/kg doses orally for 14 days; the results on the blood, liver function and kidney metabolism indicated that the extract is not toxic when administered at the tested doses (7).
Bryonia appears to have anti-epileptic activity. A group of researchers evaluated the effects of 70 percent alcoholic bryonia laciniosa extract on anticonvulsant activity in mice. One group was administered the extract, while the other received the seizure drug, carbemazepine.
The results published in the December 2010 issue of International Journal of Drug Discovery reported that there was significant increase in anticonvulsant activity in the bryonia treated group compared to the group treated with carbemazepine (8).
Bryonia is shown to have pain-relieving properties. A 2010 study compared the efficacy of 70 percent alcoholic extract of bryonia to morphine sulphate for treating pain. The results revealed that the bryonia extract showed fairly good pain-relieving activity in 30 minute and 60 minutes when compared to morphine. The group treated with bryonia also showed an increase in response time to pain stimuli (9).
Bryonia has some anticancer activity. When compared to standard anticancer drugs, doxorubicin and vincristine, aqueous extract of bryonia leaves demonstrated maximum cytotoxicity to cancer cells. In fact, researchers note that nearly all cancer cells could be killed by the leaf extract in vitro (10).
Bryonia and its anti-aging effects. While this plant cannot slow the clock on aging, its ability to potentially boost testosterone levels in men may help men feel more energized and youthful. Testosterone is a male sex hormone that plays a role in muscle mass and strength, sex drive, bone growth and strength and red blood cell production.
Men suffering from low testosterone report everything from a reduced sex drive and a change in sleep pattern, to decreased strength, emotional changes and weight gain.
Clinical trials investigating the impact of bryonia on humans have not yet been conducted. Studies have only been limited to animals, and, therefore, there are no known side effects in humans.
There is currently no recommended dosage for bryonia due to a lack of clinical research.
Bryonia is sold in seed form (known as Shivlingi Beej or Shivlingi seeds) and is also an ingredient in some testosterone support supplements. As with any herbal supplement, seek the advice of your physician before considering taking it.
Bryonia (Bryonia laciniosa) is an ancient medicinal plant that has been long been used in Ayurvedic medicine as an aphrodisiac and to boost testosterone in men. Animal studies performed in recent years have shown that various parts of this plant — namely seed and leaf extracts — may also be beneficial for the treatment of diabetes, inflammation, fever and infertility in men.
Researchers stress that the limited studies available have only been performed on animals. While many studies are needed to determine its efficacy, safety and proper dosage, bryonia has caught the attention of researchers and its ability to play a future role in the treatment and prevention of certain medical conditions.