Major celandine: medicinal properties and contraindications

Greater celandine, scientific name Chelidonium major, It is a perennial plant belonging to the family poppies, the same which includes poppies and flues. It is also known by the name of ‘swallow’, as it derives from the Greek word chelidonewhich has this meaning.

It is native to Europe and the Mediterranean basin, but its cultivation was introduced in America by the colonizers, who considered it a remedy for warts. It is currently used for pharmacological purposes, but warned of its potential risks. Let’s see in detail its properties and contraindications.

Features of the greater celandine

greater celandine (Chelidonium major) not to be confused with minor celandine (verna ficariaof the family Ranunculus ficaria). It is a perennial herbaceous plant that can reach up to 1 meter in height. and which tends to grow in meadows, shady and cool places, piles of rubble and old walls.

It has erect, branched and fragile stems, as well as large leaves (up to 30 centimeters), divided into oval or lobed segments. Its particular yellow flowers appear in terminal umbel inflorescences, generally from May to October.

Likewise, they produce fruit inside an elongated capsule resembling a silique, the interior of which houses small black seeds. The whole plant secretes a characteristic orange latex, to which medicinal applications have been presented. Even the dry parts of its surface (leaves), the root and the rhizome (underground stem) have pharmacological uses.

More medicinal properties of celandine

In the past, all parts of the greater celandine, especially its latex, were used as a remedy for various ailments and ailments. It was applied topically to treat skin conditions and eye problems. Internally it was a remedy for digestive, respiratory and inflammation-related problems.

Indeed the research on the plant has made it possible to determine that it possesses substances with a pharmacological action, among which the following stand out:

  • Alkaloids derived from phenanthridine (chelidonine, chelerythrin, andsanguirine).
  • Chelidonic acid (gamma dicarbonic pyrone).
  • Isoquinoleic derivatives (protopine).
  • Alpha and beta allocryptopin.
  • Berberine.
  • Coptisin.

and although it has been recognized its anti-inflammatory, analgesic, antispasmodic, antimicrobial and anticancer potential, there is controversy due to the high risk of side effects. What medicinal properties are attributed to it?

Chelidonium major.
Chelidonium major.

Stomach pain or dyspepsia

One of the main uses of greater celandine has to do with digestive disorders. Specific, It has been used as an adjunct to calm abdominal distensionbelching, nausea and other discomforts associated with dyspepsia.

In a publication of Medical Journal of the Iranian Red Crescent this plant is included as a potential ally for the treatment of functional dyspepsia. There was a 60% improvement in symptoms in the group that took it. C. major compared to 27.6% in the placebo group. The treatment duration was 6 weeks.

A most recent study suggests that a specific product containing greater celandine (Iberogast ®) and other medicinal plants (mint leaves, German chamomile, cumin, licorice, lemon balm, angelica and milk thistle) It is a safe and well tolerated herbal medicine for symptoms such as:

  • Stomach ache.
  • Acid reflux.
  • Nausea.
  • vomit

As a homeopathic remedy, greater celandine appears to be beneficial for functional dyspepsia and irritable bowel syndrome. Even so, more comprehensive studies are needed.

viral warts

The milky juice obtained from the greater celandine (i.e. its orange latex) is used in folk and homeopathic medicine as a supplement to facilitate the removal of viral warts. Jobs?

In a report shared via International journal of environmental research and public health it was reported that the sap of Chelidonium major has therapeutic potential against skin warts.

Other research disclosed in International journal of molecular sciences states that the alkaloids and proteins present in the latex of C. major confer antiviral properties They work against human papillomavirus (HPV), the common cause of warts.

Other medicinal applications

Due to its concentration of active compounds, among which the alkaloids stand out, increased celandine has been linked to other health effects. However, it should be clarified that the evidence for these uses is insufficient and it is a topic that is still under discussion, due to the risks involved in ingesting the plant.

Collection of information from one of the chapters of the book Side effects of drugs according to Meyler, other traditional uses of Chelidonium majus are the following:

  • Basin.
  • Asthma.
  • Jaundice.
  • Whooping cough.
  • Bronchitis.
  • calluses.
  • Gallstones.

In addition to the above, the plant has been linked to effects against irregular menstrual periods, high blood pressure, loss of appetite, and toothache, among other conditions. Lack of evidence leads to cautious use in all of these cases.

Risks and contraindications of greater celandine

Given its high alkaloid content, the intake of greater celandine is not recommended. The artisanal use of the plant is not considered safe, since it has been highlighted which can cause liver damage. Hence much of the controversy surrounding the plant, as benefits for liver health have been attributed to it in the past.

Now, although it has been established that the application of celandine latex is safe in case of warts, in some people it can cause allergic skin rashes. In this case, it is recommended to rinse thoroughly with water and discontinue use.

Due to the lack of reliable information about its safety, the plant and its derivatives are contraindicated in the following cases:

  • Children.
  • Pregnancy and breastfeeding.
  • Autoimmune diseases, such as multiple sclerosis (MS), lupus (systemic lupus erythematosus, SLE), and rheumatoid arthritis (RA).
  • Liver disease, including hepatitis.
  • Obstruction of the bile duct.

At the same time, its simultaneous intake with medicines that increase the risk of liver damage, Among which stand out paracetamol, amiodarone, carbamazepine, fluconazole, erythromycin and lovastatin, among others.

Hepatitis contraindicates increased celandine.
Although the plant was believed to protect the liver, its use is not recommended in case of hepatitis.

What is there to remember about greater celandine?

In traditional medicine, greater celandine has long been used to treat skin problems, digestive disorders and some pains. After several investigations, it has been determined to have potential against dyspepsia and skin warts.

Despite this, several reports suggest that its high alkaloid content can lead to toxic effects, especially in the liver. For this reason, domestic consumption is not recommended. In case of taking supplements that contain this plant, it is advisable to consult your doctor beforehand.

As for the topical use of its latex, it has been reported that it tends to be safe and well tolerated when applied to warts and calluses. Anyway, It is advisable to do a small test before applying it in its entirety. If no allergic reactions are observed after applying the remedy, it can be used without problems.

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