Botanical: Ranunculus ficaria
Family: Ranunculaceae (buttercup)
Other common names: Pile Wort, Smallwort, Tree Celandine, Celandine Poppy, Fig Buttercup
"There is a flower, the lesser celandine,
That shrinks like many more from cold and rain,
And the first moment that the sun may shine,
Bright as the sun himself, 'tis out again!"
Lesser* Celandine has been primarily used for many years as a treatment for piles. Its astringent and soothing properties are said to both shrink and relieve the pain of hemorrhoids, and the herb is also used to alleviate the discomforts caused by an episiotomy after childbirth.
*Note: Lesser Celandine should never be confused with Greater 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.
Lesser Celandine is an herbaceous annual or perennial plant that is native to Europe, and was introduced as an ornamental to the United States (and elsewhere), where it grows vigorously, forming large, dense patches of groundcover, often displacing native growth, and is considered an invasive weed in many states as it overtakes areas rapidly. The plants have a dark green basal rosette, branched woody stock, stalked leaves and butter-yellow (sometimes orange) flowers that open about nine a.m. and close up by five p.m. each day. When in bloom, Lesser Celandine appears as a green carpet with yellow dots, spreading across the forest floor. The plant grows chiefly in wet or moist (preferring sandy) soil in sun or shade and is particularly invasive when grown in moist shade, which encourages formation of bulbils at the leaf bases. The finger-like tubers are so prolific that well-meaning weed-pullers trying to unearth the plant actually scatter it, and the plant is also often transported during flood events. Lesser Celandine is one of the rare exceptions in the buttercup family that is not too irritating for internal use (as most others contain acrid compounds). The Doctrine of Signatures of Paracelsus (1493-1541) taught that healing herbs were given a symbolic shape or color to indicate their usage, and because Lesser Celandine's tuberous roots were thought to resemble piles, the herb was specifically used to treat and shrink hemorrhoids, both as a topical astringent and also when taken internally. One of the herb's common names reflects that application, i.e., Pile Wort, and its botanical specific, ficaria, is derived from the Latin word, ficus, meaning fig, another reference to the appearance of its tubers when seen hanging in a bunch. It is considered an astringent, slightly bitter herb, and the whole plant, including the roots, is used in herbal medicine. There is not much known about the chemical constituents of Lesser Celandine; however, it is thought to include an acrid principle (similar to anemonin), lactones, triterpenoids, tannin and vitamin C.
Lesser Celandine is an herbal astringent and old remedy for piles when taken either internally or used externally, and the herb has even been re-introduced into the British Pharmacopoeia specifically as an antihemorrhoidal. Its soothing astringency is also thought to help perineal damage after childbirth, when the muscle and tissue between the vagina and anus may be cut during labor (episiotomy).
Lesser Celandine may have antibacterial and antifungal properties. One of the herb's constituents, protoanemonin, is said to have antibiotic properties and considered useful against bacteria, and the saponins found in it are also said to be fungicidal.
Other traditional uses for Lesser Celandine have included support for the liver and gallbladder and poor appetite, but no clinical evidence could be found in this regard.
Great caution should be exercised with the use of this herb. Pregnant and nursing women should not use Lesser Celandine Herbal Supplement. Use of the herb may cause skin irritation or photosensitivity, and it may also alter the effects of prescription medications. It is strongly recommended that before using Lesser Celandine internally, one should always consult a health care provider.