Note: Chelidonium is dicey; it's been implicated in liver disease. Don't use it. -Henriette.
Chelidonium. U. S. 1890. Chelidonium majus L. (Fam, Papaveraceae.) Celandine. Tetterwort.
A perennial herbaceous plant growing wild in both Europe and America, recognized readily by its pinnate leaves, small peduncled yellow flowers and yellow opaque juice. The plant was formerly official and was described as follows: "Root several-headed, branching, reddish-brown; stem. about 50 Cm. long, light green, hairy; leaves about 15 Cm. long, thin, petiolate, the upper ones smaller and sessile, light green, on the lower side glaucous, lyrate-pinnatifid, the pinnae ovate-oblong, obtuse, coarsely crenate or incised and the terminal one often three-lobed; flowers in small, long-peduncled umbels with two sepals and four yellow petals; capsule linear, two-valved and many-seeded. The fresh plant contains a saffron-colored milk-juice, and has an unpleasant odor and acrid taste." U. S., 1890.
Probst, of Heidelberg, found in it a peculiar acid denominated chelidonic acid; two alkaline principles, one of which forms neutral salts with the acids, and is called chelerythrine (see Sanguinaria), in consequence of the intense redness of its salts; the other unites with, but does not neutralize the acids, and is named chelidonine, C20H19C5N; and lastly a neutral crystallizable, bitter principle, which from its yellow color he calls chelidoxanthin. Orlow believes, however, that the latter is an alkaloid, and gives a process for its preparation in Ph. Z. R., 1893, No. 21. Chelerythrine appears to be an acrid narcotic poison. (Ann. Ch. Ph., xxix, 113.) For an elaborate investigation of chelidonine, see a paper by Schlotterbeck and Knapp in Proc. A. Ph. A; 1905, 217. For color tests for chelidonine, see Proc. A. Ph. A., 1895, 922. Chelidonine phosphate, chelidonine sulphate, chelidonine tannate, and chelidonine muriate have been used medicinally. (See Proc. A. Ph. A., 1897, 721.)
Although both Peronin and Meyer (A. E. P. P., 1892, xxix, p. 397) asserted that chelidonine has distinct narcotic properties, the experiments of Hanzlik (J. P. Ex. T., 1915, vii, p. 99) throw grave doubt on their conclusions. The latter investigator found that its only physiological action was a paralyzing effect on the unstriped muscle and suggested its use in asthma, and spasmodic colic. Ribbing and Rumpf have used chelidonin clinically in gastralgias in doses of one and one-half to three grains (0.1-0.2 Gm.), but Peronin used from one-twentieth to one-third of a grain (0.003-0.02 Gm.). In 1902 J. O. Schlotterbeck showed that the chelidoaxanthine of Probst is really berberine. Schlotterbeck has also established the identity of the most abundant of the alkaloids of sanguinaria with chelerythrine.
Celandine is an irritant purgative to which toxic properties have been ascribed with doubtful correctness; in the fatal case of poisoning reported in the Zeitsch. f. Medizinalbeamte, 1898, it was not the cause of death. The irritant juice has long been used locally upon corns, warts, eczema, and other diseases of the skin, and even in cancer. The dose of the dried root or herb is from thirty grains to a drachm (2.0-3.9 Gm.), that of the fresh root one or two drachms (3.9-7.7 Gm.), and the same quantity may be given in infusion. The dose of the aqueous extract is from five to ten grains (0.32-0.65 Gm.), of the expressed juice from ten to twenty minims (0.6-1.3 mils), to be gradually increased.