Greater celandine is a perennial plant belonging to the poppy family (Papaveraceae). It can grow up to 60 cm in height and the whole plant contains a large amount of a yellow latex that turns orange when it comes into contact with air.
The stems are branched with long hairs and produce pinnate, round toothed leaves that are bright green on top and blue-green underneath.
The yellow flowers sit in umbrella-shaped inflorescence, usually two to six together. The flowers have two sepals and 4 yellow petals. The plant blooms from May to August. After flowering, a narrow and elongated seed capsules develop.
The whole plant is utilized in herbal medicine.TGreater celandine contains isoquinoline alkaloids (0.35 to 1.3%) such as chelidonine, chelerythrine, sanguinarine, berberine and coptisin.In addition, the plant contains, flavonoids, phenolic acid, saponin, carotenoids, bitter substances, essential oil, organic acids, vitamins and some other substances.The corrosive effect of the milky fluid (latex) present in the herb is probably due to the alkaloid chelerythrine.
Greater celandine has been used traditionally as an herbal remedy for liver diseases, many ailments of the digestive system and for eye irritations.
It was used internally to support the liver and bile duct and protect against liver damage caused by hepatitis.
It has also been used to stimulate digestion and treating cramps related to the digestive system. The milky latex was used externally to remove warts, soften corns and detach bad teeth.
ingredient found in greater celandine is the alkaloid chelidonin, a substance not unlike papaverine found in the opium poppy (Papaver somniferum). Chelidonin has an antispasmodic effect and seems to specifically target the bile duct and bronchi. Furthermore, the substance has mild tranquilizing properties.
When greater celandine is used internally, its medicinal effect is rather unpredictable. This could be explained by the great difference in the herbâs quality which is mostly because any herbal preparations quickly lose their medicinal properties when stored and also that there still no proven methods to stabilize the active ingredients.
The herb may retain its properties for up to approximately six months, but if stored longer its effect seems to decline rapidly. This is probably one of the reasons greater celandine has a rather ambiguous status among herbalists.