Celandine Herb

Other Names of Celandine: Chelidoniummajus; Greater celandine; Felon wort; Celandine poppy; Wartweed; Grecian may; Common celandine; Swallow wort; Tetterwort

Useful Parts of the Plant: The parts of the plant above ground, and also the roots

Celandine is a part of the poppy family with blue-green leaves. Its flowers have four yellow petals which yield a pod-like fruit. The plant has an orange coloured juice that turns red when it comes into contact with air. It has an unpleasant odor with a bitter and pungent taste. It is indigenous to Europe and also grows in North America, where it was brought by settlers in the seventeenth century as a herbal remedy for skin ailments like warts. The word celandine derives from the Greek word Chelidon, 'a swallow'. It refers to the tradition of Chelidonium, when the herb blooms with the arrival of the swallow and fades with their departure.

Nutritional Information and Properties of Celandine

The whole plant contains a range of alkaloids like chelerythrinet. Stylopine, present in the leaves has been used to treat warts and papillomas as well as for liver disease in the orient. Other compounds present are berberine, chelidonic acid, ergosterol, sanguinarine and hydroxysanguinarine to name a few. The herb has been used as a sedative, an antispasmodic, antibiotic and anti-tumor agent, as well as an analgesic, diuretic and a purgative.

Health Benefits and Therapeutic Uses of Celandine

  • Celandine has been used in the treatment of warts. A paste made from powdered celandine is applied directly to the wart and left to dry.
  • Its caustic properties have been used in an ointment form as a cleansing agent and to treat skin eruptions like ringworm, eczema, psoriasis, malignant sores and tubercular skin eruptions.
  • It has also been used as a rinse for dandruff.
  • Its analgesic, anti-inflammatory and anti-spasmodic properties have been used to treat a variety of ailments. It has long been used by the Russians for cancers.
  • It has been used as an antispasmodic to treat spasticity in the gastrointestinal tract and is supposed to reduce gallbladder inflammation and inflammation of the biliary duct.
  • It has also been used in the treatment of arthritis, rheumatism and gout.
  • Celandine extracts have been used as an ingredient in an antiretroviral drug that may act against the Herpes and Epstein-Barr viruses. Ukrain, a celandine derivative that is available in Europe, is used to treat tumors.
  • The typical dose depends upon the patient's immune status and is given as an intravenous injection. The dose ranges from 5 - 20 mg. and also depends upon the tumor mass, rate of tumor growth and the extent of the disease. Research has indicated that Ukrain is effective against cancers of the esophagus, testes and ovaries, breast, cervix and colon, as well as colorectal cancer, malignant melanoma and Kaposi's sarcoma.
  • It may also prove to be effective in treating AIDS patients.
  • It has not yet been approved by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) for use in the US.

Celandine can have some serious side effects. There have been some documented cases of liver failure and digestive problems which can only be attributed to its use. Oral consumption has been known to cause abdominal cramps and has even resulted in poisoning and death. It can also cause skin inflammation and eye diseases and for these reasons should not be self-administered.

Some other side effects of celandine that have been reported are dizziness, drowsiness, fatigue, restlessness, insomnia and nausea. Patients taking Ukrain should not use other opiates, digitalis drugs, sulfa drugs and oral medication for lowering blood sugar.

And lastly, celandine should not be taken by children and pregnant and lactating women and should only be taken under medical supervision.