Greater Celandine - Chelidonium majus (in the Papaveraceae or Poppy family)
Part used: Entire fresh plant was used in the past but please see contraindications. It should only be used by health care practitioners who are trained to use it. Historical use is listed below.
Taste/smell: Bitter, acrid.
Dosage: Infusion: 1-2 heaping tablespoons of fresh plant or 1 heaping tablespoon of freshly dried plant per cup of water; or 1:1.4 fresh liquid extract: 10-20 drops 3 times per day.
Mental picture and specific indications: The mental picture is one of general lethargy but anxious, and ailments brought on or renewed by weather changes. It is specific for conditions of a bilious nature.
Use: (a) Cholagogue, (b) Choleretic, (c) Hepatoprotective, (d) Antibacterial, (e) Weak analgesic, (f) Anti-inflammatory, (g) Weak central nervous system sedative, (h) Antispasmodic, (i) Stimulates digestive enzymes, (j) Eases digestive disturbances.
The spasmolytic effect is specific for bile ducts and bronchi and disappears with prolonged storage of the dried herb. It is indicated for chronic disease of the liver, gallbladder and spleen where there is cramping. Greater celandine causes the liver to secrete a less viscous and more profuse bile and prevents formation of biliary calculi. It is useful for headaches, including migraines due to bilious complaints that usually present with pain around the right scapula extending up into the back of the neck, behind the right ear and over the head and around the area of the right eye. The latex from the plant can be used to dissolve warts.
The plant contains the alkaloids, chelerythrine, chelidonine, coptisine, berberine, sanguinarine. Many of these alkaloids have displayed antimicrobial, antifungal, antitumor and anti-inflammatory activities.
Contraindications: Do not use in pregnancy due to the alkaloids, chelidonine, sparteine, protopine, chelerythrine and berberine. Animal studies have shown these alkaloids to be uterine stimulants. There have been some cases of Celandine inducing cholestatic hepatitis and some believe it is due to Celandine having greater choleretic activity than cholagogue activity and have remedied it by using it in conjunction with stronger cholagogues. I would recommend that there are other herbs that can be used rather than Celandine for internal use. If you decide to use it, watch lab values for liver enzyme levels.