Chelidonium. Chelidonium majus.

Botanical name: 

Note: Chelidonium is dicey; it's been implicated in liver disease. Don't use it. -Henriette.

Synonyms—Great Celandine, Garden Celandine, Tetterwort.

A bitter principle, and the alkaloids chelidonine, sanguinarine, protopine and chelerythrine. It also contains chelidonic and chelidoninic acids and chlorophyll.


Extractum Chelidonium; Extract of Chelidonium; Extractum Chelidonium fluidum, expressed juice of Chelidonium; succus Chelidonium. Dose, ten to twenty drops.
Specific Medicine Chelidonium. Dose, from one-tenth to ten minims.

Physiological Action—Drastic cathartic and violent local irritant, alterative, diuretic, diaphoretic and expectorant.

This agent stimulates the chylopoietic system, favorably influencing all of those organs which are supplied by the solar plexus of the great sympathetic.

Specific Symptomatology—The conditions to which chelidonium are especially applicable are found in fully developed abdominal plethora, inefficient functional action of the glandular organs of the abdominal cavity, and imperfect, sluggish and deficient circulation of the tissues, glands and organs of this cavity.

This agent operates in harmony with leptandra, podophyllum, iris versicolor, chionanthus and sodium phosphate, in the three following important conditions: Diminished secretion of bile, evidenced by grayish, clay-colored, or very light yellow stools, which will usually float. There may be no evidences of absorption of bile into the blood—no jaundice; or there may be absorption of the bile and jaundice, with its whole train of symptoms, with dark green and fetid stools and dolic; or there may be the above grayish, clay-colored stools and jaundice, with bile in the urine, which is dark yellow or red, very acid, charged with an excess of uric acid crystals.

TherapySluggishness of the portal circulation. Defective liver circulation is the cause of a long train of remote manifestations, among which are slow pulse, frequent palpitations, a feeling of weight, stiffness and swellings of the hands, feet and limbs, cold extremities, pallid and doughy skin, local and general, edema, dull pain or constant aching in the limbs and muscles, aching in the front head and occiput, vertigo, weariness, irritability, inactivity, irregularity of the bowels-constipation, followed by diarrhea, erratic colicky pains, sallowness, jaundice and other disorders. Chelidonium is an excellent remedy in a case with these manifestations.

In disease of the spleen, it relieves congestion and reduces splenic hypertrophy, acting in harmony with chionanthus and grindelia squarrosa. Its action upon the pancreatic glands is satisfactory, relieving congestion and engorgement and irritation, and inducing a better circulation. It will be found an excellent remedy in combination with helonias in the treatment of diabetes mellitus.

This agent was used thirty years ago with eminent success in the treatment of biliary calculi. It is now in use for that purpose among many physicians, who consider it superior to any other agent known in preventing their formation.

Its influence upon the functional activity of the liver induces a thinner and more profuse secretion of the bile, and it is thus useful in promoting the expulsion of gall stones. It is available also in simple biliousness, hepatic congestion, acute or sub-acute inflammation of the liver, jaundice, due to catarrhal conditions of the ducts, or when dropsy depends upon hepatic trouble. When migraine or supraorbital neuralgia depend upon hepatic difficulties this remedy is indicated.

A patient suffering from a headache which began in the occiput before rising in the morning; poor appetite; cold hands and feet; tongue large, thick, pasty, with a grayish white coat; skin of a dusky hue, was materially benefited by chelidonium, five drops of the fluid extract every two hours.

Some of the old writers believe that this agent is superior to arnica or hamamelis, as an external application to bruises and sprains. It prevents the development of local inflammation from traumatic causes.

The specific use externally, is in the application of the juice to warts, corns and epitheliomata, for which it has been widely used, and much evidence accumulated in its favor. In these conditions and in the treatment also of urticaria, eczema and itching eruptions, its careful application, persisted in, cures within a short time.

In the treatment of cancer, Denissenko directs that from twenty-two to seventy-five grains of the extract shall be taken internally, dissolved in distilled water or peppermint water, every day throughout the treatment. Into the substance of the tumor, as close as possible to the boundary between it and the healthy tissue, he throws a number of injections of from two to four drops of a mixture of equal weights of the extract, glycerine and distilled water, not exceeding a syringeful in all. If the tumor is ulcerated, he paints its surface twice a day with a mixture of one or two parts of the extract and one part of glycerine. The painting of the ulcerated surfaces gives rise to a light and transitory burning. In all instances, after the injections, especially after the first one., there was a burning pain at the site of the operation: the patient felt weak, there was a more or less severe chill, and then the temperature rose to between 100 and 102 degrees. These symptoms disappeared on the following day.

As a result of the treatment the sallow hue of the skin disappeared and softening of the tumor set in. After from three to five days there formed at the points of injection, fistulous tracts about which the softening process went on with special rapidity. Other investigators have not been as satisfied with its influence in cancers, but it is doubtless of value and deserves further observation. Iron, quinine and other supporting remedies are employed according to the indications.

The American Materia Medica, Therapeutics and Pharmacognosy, 1919, was written by Finley Ellingwood, M.D.
It was scanned by Michael Moore for the Southwest School of Botanical Medicine.