Botanical: Chelidonium majus
Family: Papaveraceae (poppy)
Other common names: Common Celandine, Garden Celandine, True Celandine, Swallow Wort, Tetterwort
Greater* Celandine has been used for centuries to cleanse the system with the ability to clear the liver and stimulate an under-active gallbladder and improve scrofulous diseases, eczema and jaundice. Greater Celandine is also thought to relieve spasms and indigestion.
*Note: Greater Celandine should never be confused with Lesser Celandine - an entirely different plant with different applications.
The information presented herein by Herbal Extracts Plus is intended for educational purposes only. These statements have not been evaluated by the FDA and are not intended to diagnose, cure, treat or prevent disease. Individual results may vary, and before using any supplements, it is always advisable to consult with your own health care provider.
Greater Celandine is an herbaceous perennial with a thick and fleshy root, a round, slender and hairy, branching stem that breaks very easily. Greater Celandine (sometimes called True Celandine) grows mainly in Europe and Asia, but has also been introduced into North America, and it produces yellow or orange flowers, which is the only characteristic the plant shares with Lesser Celandine. The whole plant, which grows to a height of about three feet, abounds in a bright orange juice, which is emitted wherever the stems or yellowish-green leaves are broken. The juice is acrid with a nauseous taste and strong, disagreeable odor and is a powerful irritant. Greater Celandine may be found growing by old walls, on waste ground and in hedges, nearly always in the neighborhood of human habitations, thriving in most soil types in sun or shade. Its use may be traced to antiquity, when the first-century scholar, Pliny, called it chelidon, meaning "swallow" in Greek, because the plant comes into flower when the swallows arrive and fades at their departure. The plant's botanical, Chelidonium, is merely a corruption of its Greek name. Both Pliny and the later, sixteenth-century herbalist, John Gerard, recommended Greater Celandine to clear the films from the cornea of the eye. In his 1597 Herball or Generall Historie of Plantes, Gerard claimed, "the juice of the herb(e) is good to sharpen the sight, for it cleanseth things that cleave about the ball of the eye and hinder the sight." The juice of the plant is so acrid that legend says Queen Elizabeth I once avoided a painful tooth extraction by dropping its juice into the hollow of a decaying tooth and easily removing the tooth with her fingers. Needless to say, these uses were discontinued long ago. Historically, the plant was used externally when dabbed directly from the plant onto the skin as a treatment for warts, calluses and corns, as well as skin malignancies. Moreover, according to the Doctrine of Signatures of Paracelsus (1493-1541), which taught that healing herbs were given a symbolic shape or color to indicate their usage, Greater Celandine's orange sap was thought to resemble bile in color and, thus, was considered a remedy for liver disorders. It was also used in folk medicine to treat skin diseases (blisters, eczema, etc.) that were formerly called "tetters," giving the plant yet another common name, Tetterwort. Greater Celandine has a strong, skin-irritating effect when used topically, and great care must be exercised when using the plant in any way. It is highly recommended that this herb be used only under the care of a physician. Some of the constituents in Greater Celandine include the alkaloids, chelidonine and chelerythrin, homochelidonine-A and B, protopine, coptisine, sanguinarine and chelidoxanthine (a neutral bitter principle).
Greater Celandine is said to be an "alterative," or agent that helps to gradually and favorably alter the course of an ailment or condition. It helps to alter the process of nutrition and excretion and restore normal bodily function. It also acts to cleanse and stimulate the efficient removal of waste products from the system.
Greater Celandine is considered a cleansing herb, and its alkaloids are said to stimulate production of pancreatic digestive enzymes and bile, and, as such, has been used to ease inflammation of the gallbladder and biliary duct, jaundice, hepatitis, gout, arthritis, eczema, rheumatism and scrofulous diseases. People with impaired liver function should, however, use this herb under the supervision of a healthcare professional until more is understood about its liver applications. In animal and laboratory studies, the whole plant extract was used as an antispasmodic to relieve gallbladder spasms and stimulate an under-active gallbladder.
Greater Celandine's bitter principle and its ability to increase bile production and pancreatic digestive enzymes may be the reason it is used as an aid to the digestive tract. In eastern Asia, it is considered a valued treatment for peptic ulcer, and its antispasmodic qualities are said to help relieve abdominal cramping, nausea and indigestion.
Used externally, Greater Celandine has been a traditional treatment for centuries to remove calluses, warts and corns, and recent clinical trials from Russia and China have reported that a tincture of Greater Celandine exhibited antiviral properties and was successful when applied topically for the removal of warts. The herb has also been used topically for eye inflammations and cataracts, bruises and sprains, ringworm, psoriasis and malignant tumors.
Greater Celandine Herbal Supplement carries strong warnings and is subject to restrictions in some countries and may cause severe irritation of the mucous membranes. Pregnant and nursing women should never use this herb, nor should children or those who have liver disease. Its use should always be carried out under the care of a qualified health care practitioner. Chelerythrin, an ingredient in Greater Celandine, is a narcotic, and excess use causes sleepiness and coughing.