encyclopedia

Celandine

Scientific Names:    

Chelidonium majus L. [Fam. Papaveraceae]    
 
   
Forms:    

Extract, powder, and tea from dried aerial parts of celandine; fresh stem latex for external use.    
     

Traditional Usage:    

– Anti-inflammatory
– Appetite Loss
– Arthritic Pain Relief
– Bile Deficiency
– Bone and Joint Disorders
– Cellular Regeneration
– Cleansing
– Corns
– Coughs
– Dandruff
– Detoxification
– Digestive Disorders
– Eczema
– Gastrointestinal Complaints
– Hemorrhoids
– Liver Health Maintenance
– Piles
– Ulcers
– Urinary System Gravel
– Warts     
     
    
Overview:    

Celandine, Chelidonium majus L. [Fam. Papaveraceae], is found in Europe, Asia, and North America. The Roman scholar Pliny mentions its healing power, and in the 14th century it was taken in liquid form as a blood tonic and was thought to sharpen sight and other senses. It may be used both internally and externally and is often an ingredient in various herbal teas, especially bile and liver teas. For centuries, celandine has been used as a pain reliever, a cough suppressant, antitoxin, and anti-inflammatory drug in Chinese medicine. The fresh, bright yellow-orange stem latex was once a popular folk medicine treatment for warts, eczema, ringworm and corns. Traditionally, celandine was also used as a remedy for jaundice, scurvy, scrofula, gout, toothache, peptic ulcers, piles, and most notably as a topical to treat abnormal growths, probably owing to the antimitotic properties of the active ingredients, sanguinarine and chelerythrine. Celandine is also prescribed for bronchitis and whooping cough, appetite loss, stomach cramps and gastrointestinal problems as well as for conditions that affect the gallbladder. At present, the extract of alkaloids from celandine is the base of a preparation that has demonstrated immunomodulating activity and is employed in the therapy of different types of abnormal growths. Celandine is also a component of some drug preparations employed in the diseases of the biliary tract and liver. Because the biological effect of the principal constituents of celandine are different and often quite antagonistic and their representation and concentrations vary during the growing season, the efficacy of preparations change in relation to the prevailing substance in the preparation. It should be noted that there have been several cases reported of acute hepatitis attributed to preparations of greater celandine, and therefore it is not recommended to use this herb without the supervision of a qualified medical doctor.                                                   
     
    
Active Ingredients:    

Greater celandine contains: 0.1-1% alkaloid; more than 20 benzylisoquinoline alkaloids are known of which chelidonine, sanguinarine, coptisine and chelerythrine are quantitatively the most important; berberine, protopine, and stylopine. The alkaloid content varies considerably; in the roots and rhizomes, the raw material for the industrial preparation of extracts, the alkaloid content is much higher. Other constituents: chelidonic acid and other plant acids, such as malic and citric acids, flavonoids, a saponin, carotenoids, and other ubiquitous substances. Proteolytic enzymes have been detected in the yellowish orange latex of the plant. A recent study found that the principal secondary metabolites of the plant are isoquinoline alkaloids; more than 30 were found. The richest organ is the root, the total content of alkaloids in it reaching 2-3%. The dominant alkaloids of the root are chelidonine and coptisine. The aerial parts contain about 0.5-1.5% alkaloids. The principal active constituent found in the plant throughout the whole growing season is coptisine, with other alkaloids substantially changing during the development of the plant. The main nonalkaloidal secondary metabolites are esters of caffeic acid.    
     
    
Suggested Amount:    

The recommended daily dose is 2-5 grams or 12-30 mg of active chelidonine. To make greater celandine tea, pour boiling water over 1/2 a teaspoon of finely chopped celandine, steep ten minutes, then strain. Drink two to three cups per day in between meals.
The recommended daily dose is 2-5 grams or 12-30 mg of active chelidonine. To make greater celandine tea, pour boiling water over 1/2 a teaspoon of finely chopped celandine, steep ten minutes, then strain. Drink two to three cups per day in between meals.
For treating dandruff Dr. James Duke in The Green Pharmacy recommends preparing a herbal scalp rinse with the following instructions: Four ounces of fresh celandine or a half-cup of dried celandine is added to six cups of hot water in which one teaspoon of potassium chloride has previously been dissolved. This mixture is left to stand for 2 hours and then brought to a boil slowly for 20 minutes. Strain the plant material out and simmer, reducing the liquid to 1.5 cups. Add eight ounces of glycerin and continue simmering, reducing the liquid slowly to two cups. Strain the result, bottle it and store it in a cool place. Use it once or twice a day as a hair rinse.
    
     
Drug Interactions:     
None known.    
     
    
Contraindications:    

Do not use during pregnancy or lactation.    
     
    
Side Effects:    

Use only under the supervision of a qualified practitioner or physician. Overdose can cause gastroenteritis, coughing, and breathing problems. Other side effects include liver failure, contact dermatitis, paralysis, muscle spasm, and erratic blood pressure leading to heart damage. The stem juice is highly irritating and allergenic and may cause paralysis.    
     
    
References:    

Duke, J. 1997: The Green Pharmacy, The Ultimate Compendium of Natural Remedies from the World's Foremost Authority on Healing and Herbs. Pp. 176-177; 189; 252; 548. Rodale Press.
 
Duke JA. 1985. Celandine. In Handbook of Medicinal Herbs. CRC Press, Boca Raton, FL, p. 113.
 
Foster S, and Duke JA. 1990. Celandine in Medicinal Plants. Houghton Mifflin Co., New York, NY, p. 92.
 
Taborska E, Bochorakova H, Dostal J, Paulova H. 1995. [The greater celandine (Chelidonium majus L.)–review of present knowledge]. Ceska Slov Farm 1995 Apr; 44(2): 71-5.
 
Wichtl M and NG Bisset (eds). 1994. Celandine. In Herbal Drugs and Phyto-pharmaceuticals. (English translation by Norman Grainger Bisset). CRC Press, Stuttgart, Pp. 143 – 145.