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DISCLAIMER: These pages are presented solely as a source of INFORMATION and ENTERTAINMENT and to provide stern warnings against use where appropriate. No claims are made for the efficacy of any herb nor for any historical herbal treatment. In no way can the information provided here take the place of the standard, legal, medical practice of any country. Additionally, some of these plants are extremely toxic and should be used only by licensed professionals who have the means to process them properly into appropriate pharmaceuticals. One final note: many plants were used for a wide range of illnesses in the past, but be aware that many of the historical uses have proven to be ineffective for the problems to which they were applied.

aka Celandine Poppy, Common Celandine, Felon-wort, Garden Celandine, Greater Celandine, Grecian May, Swallow Wort, Tetterwort, Wartweed
(Chelidonium majus)
[bai gu cai]

PROFESSIONAL USE ONLY of fresh plant and rootstock!
Subject to legal restrictions in some countries!
Excess causes sleepiness, skin irritation, coughing, respiratory difficulty!
Possible skin poisoning from handling the crushed plant.
NOT for use by PREGNANT women!
NOT for use by CHILDREN!
Not safe for farm animals to browse!

"The herb or root boiled in white wine and drunk, a few aniseeds being boiled therewith, openeth obstructions of the liver and gall, helpeth the yellow jaundice." Culpeper

CONTAINS: Allocryptopine, berberine, celidoniol, cherlerythrine (narcotic and poison), chelidamine, chelidimerine, chelidonic acid, chelilutine, chelirubine, coptisine, corysamine, cryptopine, ergosterol, homochelidonine (A & B), hydroxychelidonine, hydroxysanguinarine, methoxychelidonine, oxochelidonine, oxysanguinarine, protopine, sanguinarine, sparteine, spinasterol, stylopine.

A Eurasian member of the poppy family growing 1 to 2½ feet which is found in waste places and around disturbed soil near homes. Has been naturalized in North America and can be found in damp, rich soil of the northeastern United States along roadsides, waste places, springing up in garden beds. LEAVES are gray-green with a yellowish cast, alternate, pinnate with ovate and irregular lobed leaflets. FLOWERS are small and yellow, 4-petaled, 1/2 to 3/4 inch across in a sparse terminal umbel. FRUIT is a long, thin pod. ROOTSTOCK is cylindrical, having a brown exterior and an orange-yellow interior with a milky juice. STEMS are hollow and smooth or slightly hairy with swollen joints. The entire plant contains a bitter, orange-yellow juice that runs red when exposed to the air; it has an unpleasant smell and a nauseus taste. The scientific name is derived from the Greek 'chelidon', meaning 'swallow' as it comes into flower when the swallows arrive and ends its bloom when they leave. Another story says that the name was given because swallows use this plant to unseal the eyes of their young.

Astrologically ruled by the sun and Leo.

PROPAGATION: By SEED in spring; by ROOT DIVISION in spring.
NEEDS: The cultivars are grown as ornamentals in sun or part shade. Not fussy as to soil.
PART USED: Whole plant, Root, Sap (used fresh)
HARVEST: The entire plant is cut during the blooming season and used fresh or dried; the rootstock is taken in spring before flowering.
SOLVENT: Alcohol, Water
C.m. 'Laciniatum Flore Pleno'
C.m. 'Flore Pleno'


Cleansing, acrid, caustic, alterative, anodyne, anti-inflammatory, anti-cancer, analgesic, diaphoretic, diuretic, expectorant, hydragogue, narcotic, purgative, hypoglycemic, antispasmodic (muscles), uterine stimulant, circulatory stimulant, diuretic, laxative, vulnerary, lowers blood pressure; affects stomach, gall bladder, liver, spleen. In the 14th century Celandine was used as a blood tonic.
Has been an important herb down through the ages for treating liver diseases; has been used for inflammation of the gallbladder, inflammation of the bilary duct, loss of appetite, jaundice, hepatitis, dropsy, gout, arthritis, rheumatism, fevers, spasmodic coughs, bronchitis, asthma, intestinal polyps, breast lumps, angina, cramps, arteriosclerosis, gout, water retention, skin eruptions, scurvy, ulcers, cancers (specifically skin and stomach). The Russians have long used it for cancers. At one time the leaves were placed in shoes to cure jaundice.
The tincture has been used for liver problems, facial, head, and shoulder neuralgia, constipation.
An important ingredient of a pharmaceutical drug used to treat stomach ulcers.
In Chinese medicine, a cream containing Celandine has been massaged into the skin at the base of the spine to treat a lack of libido in women; other ingredients include species of oregano, mint, plantain, and savory. The herb itself has been used to correct irregular menses.
The bright orange juice of the plant has been dabbed on warts and corns; the juice has also been mixed with vinegar to treat warts (only 2 or 3 warts at a time if there are multiple growths). If the surrounding skin itches or shows other sensitivities the area has been treated with diluted vinegar.
Has been used externally for eye inflammation, cataract, bruises, sprains, ringworm, psoriasis, eczema, herpes, cancerous tumors, spreading ulcers, malignant runny sores, tubercular skin lesions; the ointment or poultice has been used externally for herpes, eczema, ringworm. The ancients combined the juice with breast milk as a wash to treat cataracts.
An ointment made from the root (also leaves and flowers) and lard has been used for piles.
Has been used as a wound remedy to lessen pain.
The juice has been applied twice daily (morning and night) to treat corns. A more complicated recipe for corn removal is to combine 6 cups of water and 1 tsp of commercial salt substitute (potassium chloride) in a pan over low heat, stirring until the salt substitute is dissolved; remove from heat and add 4 oz of fresh celandine (chopped fine; 1/2 cup of dried herb can be also used); allow mixture to steep for 2 hours, then return to heat and bring to a boil. Reduce heat and simmer for 20 minutes. Strain the mixture into a bowl and discard the spent plant material. Place the liquid back into the pan and simmer until the liquid is reduce to 1½ cups. Add 1 cup of glycerine and simmer until the total liquid is reduced to 2 cups. Strain, bottle and store in a dark cool place. This mixture has been applied to corns twice daily (morning and night). It has also be used as a rinse for dandruff.
Juice has been dabbed on styes to treat them.
The leaves and stems have been steeped in warm milk as an eyewash.
The fresh root has been used for toothache; the powdered root has been applied to tooth extraction.
In studies of cholagogues, Celandine has been combined with Milk Thistle and Turmeric. It was felt that the combination itself, rather than the individual parts, produced significant results. More testing was to follow, but that was in the 80's and I have seen nothing more on the topic.

All others buy commercial preparations and follow directions carefully!
NOTE: Taken in moderation and only for short periods of time.
GRAINS = 15 to 60
INFUSION = 1 level tsp of powdered rootstock, or crushed dry herb, to 1 cup of boiling water; steeped 30 minutes; taken cold 1/2 cup per day, a mouthful at a time.
TINCTURE = 8 to 10 drops in brandy or 90 proof beverage alcohol or sweetened water (3 times daily for liver problems)
FLUID EXTRACT = 1/2 to 1 tsp
SAP/JUICE = 8 to 10 drops in milk, sweetened water or other bland liquid
POWDERED ROOT = 1/2 to 1 tsp

Used for cancer, chest problems, chorea, constipation, cough, diarrhea, dyspepsia, gall stones, gonorrhea, spitting blood, hemorrhoids, headache, flu, jaundice, liver problems, nephritis, neuralgia, nose bleeds, pneumonia, rheumatism, stiff neck, altered taste, tumors, warts, whooping cough.

In naturopathic veterinary medicine an infusion has been used as an eyewash twice daily for cataracts and eye ulcers in dogs and cats.
In farm animals, cataracts have been treated by placing 2 tbsp of the cut dried herb in 1 pint of water, then simmering for 10 minutes; 2 tbsp of honey is added, then allowed to cool before being mixed half and half with raw milk; the eyes being bathed 3 times daily.
The juice has been used to treat warts in farm animals (applied twice daily).

©2005 by Ernestina Parziale, CH