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Synonyms: Common Celandine. Garden Celandine.
Common Names: Greater celandine; Tetterwort, Sanguinaria canadensis, Nipplewort, Swallowwort
Habitat: Chelidonium majus is native to Europe and western Asia and introduced widely in North America. Found by old walls, on waste ground and in hedges, nearly always in the neighbourhood of human habitations.
Chelidonium majus is a perennial herb with an erect habit, and reaches 30 to 120 cm high. The leaves are pinnate with lobed and wavy-edged margins, 30 cm long. When injured, the plant exudes a yellow to orange latex.
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The flowers consist of four yellow petals, each about 1 cm long, with two sepals. A double-flowered variety occurs naturally. The flowers appear from late spring to summer in umbelliform cymes of about 4 flowers.
The seeds are small and black, borne in a long capsule. Each has an elaiosome, which attracts ants to disperse the seeds (myrmecochory).
It is considered an aggressive invasive plant in natural areas (both woods and fields). Control is obtained mainly via pulling or spraying the plant before seed.
Part Used: The whole herb, collected in the wild state, from May to July, when in flower, and dried. Likewise, the fresh juice.
Constituents: The alkaloids Chelidonine and Chelerythrin, the latter narcotic and poisonous, also the two nearly allied alkaloids, Homochelidonine A, and Homocheli donine B. In addition, Protopine and Sanguinarine, and a body named Chelidoxanthin, a neutral bitter principle.
Alterative, diuretic, purgative. It is used in jaundice, eczema, scrofulous diseases, etc., the infusion of 1 OZ. of the dried herb to a pint of boiling water being taken in wineglassful doses. The infusion is a cordial and greatly promotes perspiration. The addition of a few aniseeds in making a decoction of the herb in wine has been held to increase its efficacy in removing obstructions of the liver and gall. Chelidonium majus has traditionally been used for treatment of various inflammatory diseases including atopic dermatitis. It is also traditionally used in the treatment of gallstones and dyspepsia.
Greater celandine acts as a mild sedative, relaxing the muscles of the bronchial tubes, intestines, and other organs. In both Western and Chinese herbal traditions, it has been used to treat bronchitis, whooping cough and asthma. The herb’s antispasmodic effect also extends to the gallbladder, where it helps to improve bile flow. This would partly account for its use in treating jaundice, gallstones, and gallbladder pain, as well as its longstanding reputation as a detoxifying herb. The tincture or infusion of the leaf will stimulate and clean the liver. In one study, researchers gave tablets containing chelidonine to 60 people with symptoms of gallstones for six weeks. Doctors reported a significant reduction in symptoms. Greater celandine’s sedative action does not, however, extend to the uterusit causes the muscles of this organ to contract. Externally the salve has been used to clear eczema, scrofula and herpes. The juice applied to the eyes will clear the vision, and applied to wounds will promote healing. The fresh juice is dabbed two or three times a day on warts, ringworm and corns. (Do not allow it to touch other parts of the skin.) The fresh juice mixed with milk is used to help remove cataracts and the white spots that form on the cornea. An ointment of the roots and leaves boiled in oil or lard is an excellent treatment for hemorrhoids. Only the dried herb should be taken internally. The fluid extract is made with the fresh herb. Ukrain, a derivate of celandine, is used for solid tumors such as breast, lung, and colon, as opposed to leukemia and myeloma, It can be beneficial even when used in combination with Taxol plus supporting the liver function.
A fluid extract is also prepared, the dose being 1/2 to 1 drachm. Eight to 10 drops of the tincture made from the whole herb, or of the fresh juice, given as a dose three times a day in sweetened water, is considered excellent for overcoming torpid conditions of the liver. In the treatment of the worst forms of scurvy it has been given with benefit.
The orange-coloured, acrid juice is commonly used fresh to cure warts, ringworm and corns, but should not be allowed to come into contact with any other part of the skin.
In milk, it is employed as an eye-lotion, to remove the white, opaque spots on the cornea. Mixed with sulphur, it was formerly used to cure the itch.
An ointment made of the roots and lard boiled together, also of the leaves and flowers, has been used with advantage for piles.
Celandine is a very popular medicine in Russia, where it is said to have proved effective in cases of cancer.
It is still used in Suffolk as a fomentation for toothache.
The information presented herein is intended for educational purposes only. Individual results may vary, and before using any supplements, it is always advisable to consult with your own health care provider.