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Greater celandine

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Greater celandine

Chelidonium maius – Greater celandine
Papaveraceae – Poppy family
The raw material is the celandine herb – Chelidonii herba and root (Chelidonii radix). The herb is harvested at the start of blooming and dried in natural conditions (shaded and ventilated) or in drying rooms in max. 40° C; it darkens as it dries. The root is harvested in the second year of vegetation, in the autumn, and dried in 50-60° C.

Greater celandine – appearance and origin:

A perennial found in Europe and Northern Asia, North America; in Poland it grows in the lowlands and lower mountains as a ruderal weed in shaded places. It is grown for medicinal purposes. It requires fertile soil, rich in organic compounds and water. Celandine is propagated by seed, sown in the autumn directly into the ground. The root is thick, fusiform, strongly branched. The stem grows up to 50 cm, it is thin, erect, forked branches, with few hairs. The leaves are pinnatisect with ovate segments, with crenate or sinuate. The flowers are yellow rays, with 4 petals, which form loose corymbs. It blooms from May to September. All plant parts contain orange milk juice.

Greater celandine – effects and use:

Greater celandine is on one side strongly poisonous, and on the other it is a highly valuable medicinal material used for diseases of the liver and bile duct, and also as an ingredient of anticancer and antiviral medicine.

The celandine herb contains 0.2-0.6% isoquinoline alkaloids (mainly chelidonine, homochelidonine, chelerythrine, sanguinarine, berberine), biogenic amines, flavonoids, phenolic aicds (caffeic acid and its esters, coumaric acid, ferulic acid, gentisic acid) and chelidonic acid, malic acid, succinic acid, choline and proteolytic enzymes. The root contains flavonoids, phenolic acids (i.a. caffeic acid) and essential oil. Chelidonine has a spasmolytic effect and lowers blood pressure.
Sanguinarine stimulates the secretion of bile, has a spasmolytic effect on smooth muscles of the gastrointestinal tract, bile duct, urinary tract, bronchi, and also has mild narcotic activity. However, berberine has anti-inflammatory properties. Celandine alkaloids are also strong antibacterials, antivirals, antifungals, and also inhibit the growth of protozoans. Studies confirm the anticancer activity of celandine extracts, which is mainly determined by alkaloid compounds and lectin protein. Used in the right amounts, celandine has hepatoprotective activity, but can be harmful to the liver in excess doses. It helps with colic, flatulence and menstrual pain; however, caution is advised, as it can increase bleeding. The herb lowers blood pressure and has a mild sedative effect. Combined with other herbs, celandine is used to treat coughs and urolithiasis. The fresh milk juice is used to treat warts (chelidonine, proteolytic enzymes). It is also used to treat stubborn wounds, mycosis, herpes, ulcerations, hemorrhoids and psoriasis.

Because of the toxic alkaloids, celandine should be used under medical supervision. It is not recommended for glacuoma patients.