Celandine is a perennially growing herb that grows to an utmost height of 2.5 feet (45 cm) and has branching stems with swellings at the nodes. The leaves of celandine are soft, intensely divided having lobed leaflets that alternately broaden along the lower part of the stem. Celandine produces vivid yellow flowers during the period between April and September. As soon as any portion of the celandine herb breaks, it gives out a pungent, gummy orange sap that has a disagreeable odour.
Going by classical antiquity, people have a belief that celandine thrived with the arrival of swallow’s spring and the herb dried up when the swallows departed during fall. Therefore, this herb was called chelidonium, which is the same as its common name swallowwort or ‘swallow herb’. According to another fable, swallows utilized the sap or juice of celandine to reinforce the vision of their young ones. Taking a cue from this, humans also used the juice obtained from the herb in the form of eye drops to cure cataracts. However, this particular therapeutic use of the herb was stopped several years back.
Abiding by the doctrine of signatures, herbalists have taken the vivid orange hued juice of celandine in the form of a heavenly sign which was a medication for liver diseases as well as jaundice. In effect, the juice of the celandine herb was also used to eradicate warts as well as make calluses softer. The plant’s name ‘tetterwort’ is derived from the use of its orange color juice in traditional herbal medicine to cure skin complaints, for instance, blisters and pimples as well as maladies that were earlier known as tetters.
For long, celandine has been used in the form of an herbal medication. Conventionally, this herb was used in the form of an ophthalmic to cure as well as clear vision. In contemporary herbal medicine, celandine is employed more in the form of a gentle tranquilizer, detoxifying herb, antispasmodic agent, and for soothing the bronchial tube muscles, intestines as well as other organs of the body. The latex or sap of this herb is extensively used topically to heal warts. In addition, people ought to use caution particularly when the herb is used internally, since it encloses venomous alkaloids. The leaves as well as the sap or latex of the herb are pungent, alterative, antispasmodic, antiseptic, caustic, diaphoretic (any medicine that induces perspiration), cholagogue (any medication that encourages secretion of bile), diuretic, laxative, narcotic as well as a hydrogogue (any medicine that facilitates discharge of body fluids from the bowels). Celandine is also used to treat asthma, bronchitis, jaundice, whooping cough, gallstones as well as pains in the gallbladder.
Celandine plants are harvested during the spring when they begin to bloom. While it is best to use this herb fresh, it may also be dried up and used later when necessary. Even the roots of celandine plant are used and they are harvested during autumn and dried for use when needed. Celandine possesses anti-caner and analgesic properties. This herb forms an important ingredient of drugs for treating stomach ulcers. In addition, celandine plants possess profuse amount of acrid vivid orange hued sap or latex, which causes strong skin stains and is a potent irritant. This sap or juice is used to eradicate ringworm, warts and corns. Moreover, this juice is also employed to get rid of films formed over the cornea of the eye.
Plants of this species also enclose alkaloid chelidonine that is comparable to the alkaloid papaverine present in poppies. Alkaloid chelidonine has produced antispasmodic as well as tranquilizing consequences on the bronchi and the bile ducts. Nevertheless, the results of using this alkaloid have proven to be unpredictable, particularly when the herbal preparation was done some time back. In addition, celandine also encloses the alkaloid sparteine that facilitates in restoring the regular pace to weak arrhythmic myocardial.
Celandine is a versatile herb and is used to treat a number of health conditions, including eczema, jaundice, scrofulous diseases and others. An infusion prepared by boiling one ounce of the dried herb in a pint of water is taken in doses of a wineglassful for curing the above mentioned conditions. This infusion is stimulating and induces sweating considerably. When you add a few aniseeds while preparing a decoction using celandine in wine, it enhances the effectiveness of the decoction in getting rid of the impediments of the gallbladder and the liver.
In addition, a fluid extract obtained from celandine is taken in doses of half to one drachm. Taking about eight to ten drops of a tincture prepared from the whole celandine herb or its fresh juice is added to sweetened water and given thrice every day. This is considered to be a wonderful remedy for prevail over lethargic conditions of the liver. This medication has also been given to patients suffering from the most horrible forms of scurvy. In fact, the patients are known to have benefitted greatly after taking this herbal preparation.
Celandine is used in milk in the form of an eye-lotion with a view to get rid of the white and unclear specks on the cornea. Blended with sulfur, celandine was earlier employed to heal itchiness. A lotion prepared by boiling the roots of the celandine plant and lard collectively, including the leaves and flowers of the herb, has been utilized to treat piles. In Russia celandine is a well accepted natural medication and it is said that people in this country have successfully used the herb, which possesses anti-cancer attributes, to treat different cancer types.
In contemporary times, celandine is primarily employed in the manufacture of a yellow dye used to color wool.
Other medical uses
Habitat and cultivation
Celandine is found growing naturally on the periphery of forest lands, pathways as well as walls and among the bushes and rocks. This herb is found growing over a vast expanse in Northern America ranging from north eastern region of Canada and the United States, southwards to Georgia, Tennessee as well as Missouri.
Celandine thrives on any type of soil, except in swampy conditions. This herb has the aptitude to endure shade and has a preference for a fertile soil akin to that found in woodlands. Celandine grows excellently on walls provided they are in a partially shaded location as well as when they are given some amount of soil to enable the plants to root. Celandine is a perennially growing plant that has a short life span; however, if it grows freely on its own, the plants may turn out to be a weed. This species has the ability to colonize rapidly in thin forest land area as well as on waste ground. When celandine plants are well established, it is extremely problematic to get rid of them.
Celandine is generally propagated by its seeds which need to be sown directly in their permanent position (in situ) between the period February and May or between August and November. Generally, the seeds may take anything between one and 12 months to germinate. However, celandine has the aptitude to self-sow without restraint and does not require a great deal of encouragement. Alternately, this species may also be grown by root division ideally undertaken in March. However, when it is propagated by means of division, the plants bleed copiously and, hence, this method is not advisable.
- bitter principles
- chelidonic acid
- essential oil
- proteolytic enzymes
- viricidal alkaloids
Freshly obtained sap of the celandine, mother tincture, a poultice as well as a decoction prepared with the leaflets are used for medicinal purpose. These are the primary therapeutic applications of celandine.
Fresh Sap: To treat conjunctivitis or genital warts, dilute the freshly collected sap of celandine in boiling water in the proportion of 1:20. For treating warts, apply the fresh sap formed as beads at the stem axil on the affected areas twice every day for a number of days consecutively. Alternately, the whole celandine plant may also be used in the form of a poultice on any wound. If you are using the mother tincture prepared from the herb, take five drops of it thrice every day in water. You may also apply the mother tincture directly to the wart or corn. If you are using the sap topically, dilute it in one cup (250 ml) of boiling water to cleanse any gaping wound. An infected mucous membrane may also be cured by applying the sap externally on the affected area.
To prepare a decoction from the fresh herb, take one leaflet of the plant for every one cup (250 ml) of water and use it three times every day to purify the liver and the gallbladder. You may also include other herbs, such as chamomile, dandelion or mint with a view to reduce the astringent and pungent flavor of celandine. Continuing this kind of treatment for a period of three weeks is a wonderful way to heal psoriasis, eczema and also arteriosclerosis (stiffening of the arteries).
A special tincture prepared with this herb is used to treat wart. To prepare this anti-wart tincture, you require the following ingredients:
- one-third ounce (10 grams) of freshly mashed celandine
- one cup (250 ml) of apple cider vinegar
Mix these ingredients and allow them to stand for about a month in a glass jar kept away from sunlight. Shake the mixture once in every two to three days and filter the solution after a month. Apply the undiluted solution (tincture) directly to warts twice every day. Alternately, you may make use of a pad drenched in the tincture and fix it on the affected area with a bandage. During the course of one week, keep changing the pad on a regular basis.
This anti-wart tincture may also be taken orally – ideally five drops in half a cup (125 ml) of water prior to taking the three meals every day to purify the liver.