The celandine (Chelidonium majus)

Treat yourself with celandine (Chelidonium majus)

Celandine, commonly known as large celandine or large light, is a toxic plant species of the family Papaveraceae. It is the only plant of the genus Chelidonium. It is scientifically named Chelidonium majus. In ancient times, celandine was considered a magical plant associated with black magic. From this species comes a yellow sap that the medieval alchemists used to turn some metals into gold. The celandine is present throughout Europe, except for the north, and tends to grow on roadsides and in rubble and along the walls.  It is also called “wart herb”.


The plant has an upright stem, cylindrical and hairy in places, up to 50 cm tall. In case of injury, a yellow latex comes out. Celandine has lower petiolate leaves while those at the top are sessile. Slightly glaucous in color, these leaves are soft, especially towards the underside, and crenate.

As for the flowers of the plant, they grow in umbel at the end of long peduncles. They each have 2 deciduous green sepals, 4 yellow petals and several stamens also of yellow color. The celandine seeds are small and black in color.

Composition of Celandine

In this species, there is a variety of isoquinoleic alkaloids including chelidonine, chelerythrin, sanguinarine, coptisine and berberine. The plant also contains latex and several organic acids.

Toxicity of Celandine

The alkaloids of the plant act on the central nervous system and are potently bactericidal. Excessive doses in undiluted celandine juice cause nerve damage and severe visceral irritation. The respiratory centers can be paralyzed following the consumption of the plant.

In addition, the subject may experience nausea, vomiting, abdominal cramps, and diarrhea. However, celandine poisoning is rare because the plant has a disgusting smell and its taste is unbearable. Thus, people prefer to go their way as soon as they are near the species.


Celandine has cholagogic, choleretic and antispasmodic properties and is traditionally used to treat liver diseases and rheumatism. It is also a depurative of the bile ducts. She has been successfully tested in homeopathy cases. In the past, it was said to have the power to render the view, hence its nickname “great light”. It has even been tested against eyelid ulcers, chronic ophthalmia and blepharitis. Despite all these virtues of celandine, its therapeutic use can only be done under medical supervision. Also, most remedies apply externally.




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