Greater Celandine (Chelidonium majus)

Identification: This erect, branched, sparingly hairy herb is from 1 to 2 feet in height, with thin leaves 4 to 8 inches in length, which have a grayish-green appearance and are deeply and variously cleft. The small, yellow flowers are produced from April to September, followed by Greater Celandine Flower
smooth, slender capsules containing numerous seeds. The plant contains an acrid, yellow juice and when bruised has an unpleasant odor.The finger-thick, cylindrical rootstock is red-brown on the outside, orange-yellow inside, and contains a milky juice. The hollow stem is round, smooth, and swollen at the joints.
Habitat: Celandine is found in rich damp soil along fences and roadsides near towns from Maine to Ontario and southward. It is common from southern Maine to Pennsylvania.
Family: Papaveraceae (Poppy family)
Other Names: Chelidonium, garden celandine, great celandine, tetterwort, jewel weed, quick-in-hand, slippers, snap weed, pale touch-me-not, slipper weed, balsam weed, weathercock, devil’s milk, wart flower, touch-me-not.
Flowers: April – September.
Parts Used: The aerial parts are collected during the flowering period and the roots in late summer or autumn.
History: Celandine is named after the Greek word for the swallow, because it starts flowering when the birds arrive and stops when they leave. According to the Doctrine of Signatures, this plant, with its yellow juice, was deemed suitable for biliary complaints. In Chinese medicine it is used as an analgesic, antitussive, anti-inflammatory and detoxicant. Mrs Grieve states that it was used in Suffolk as a fomentation for toothache.
European herbal traditions regard greater celandine as a valuable remedy for the topical treatment of warts. It was also a folk remedy for cancer, gout, jaundice, and a variety of skin diseases. The famous French herbalist Maurice Mességué used greater celandine extensively for foot baths and teas for many conditions, particularly those affecting the liver. In eastern Asia it was also valued as a treatment for peptic ulcer.
Constituents: Alkaloids (allocryptopine, berberine, chelamine, chelidonine, chelerythine, coptisine, magnoflorine, protopine, sanguinarine, sparteine and others). The roots contain choline, histamine, tyramine, saponins, chelidoniol, chelidonic acid, vitamin C, yellow latex with carotenoid latex.
Medicinal Properties:
Properties: Anodyne, antispasmodic, caustic, diaphoretic, diuretic, hydragogue, narcotic, purgative.
Main Uses: Taken internally, celandine has a special effect on the digestive system (stomach, gallbladder, liver), and its antispasmodic properties make it useful for asthmatic symptoms. As a hydragogue it is used for dropsical conditions. Externally, made into an ointment or a poultice, celandine can be used for skin diseases like herpes, eczema, and ringworm. The juice has some antiseptic properties and has long been used to remove warts. Mix with vinegar when using the juice on the skin.
Preparation & Dosages:
Infusion: Use I level teaspoon rootstock or herb with 1 cup boiling water; steep for 30 minutes. Drink cold, 1/2 cup a day.
Tincture: [1:2] 10-25 drops.
Juice: For warts, dab no more than 2 or 3 warts at a time with fresh juice, two or three times a day.

CAUTION! Chelidonium should not be confused with Lesser Celandine, also known as Pilewort (Ranunculus ficaria), to which it is not related.


Use under the supervision of a healthcare professional. Seek advice from a healthcare professional before using if there is history of liver disease, and discontinue use of the herb if particular symptoms occur.

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