Traditional medicine of the East brings us a controversial herb. For centuries, folks have been using celandine to detox and fight diseases. Modern research supports some of its uses but casts doubt on others. This herb may combat inflammation and cancer and help jump-start your digestion. However, it has the potential to both protect and damage the liver. Read on to find out why.  

What is Celandine?

The common name celandine refers to three plant species:

  • Greater celandine (Chelidonium majus)
  • Celandine poppy (Stylophorum diphyllum)
  • Lesser celandine (Ficaria verna)

Greater celandine, also known as nipplewort or swallowwort, belongs to the family of herbs called poppies (Papaveraceae). Although native to Europe and western Asia, this perennial herb grows worldwide.

Greater celandine has tender leaves and blooms tiny yellow flowers. When injured, the stem releases distinct yellow-orange sap known as “devil’s milk.”

Its Latin name – Chelidonium – actually comes from Ancient Greek (chelidon) and means “swallow”. Anecdotally, blooming of celandine flowers would announce the return of swallow birds from the south.

Medicinal use of greater celandine also dates back to Ancient Greece, where the physician and botanist Dioscorides first described its detox potential. From Pliny the Elder (a famous Roman naturalist) to modern herbalists such as Maurice Mességué, traditional remedies with greater celandine have a rich history.

In the western world, folks have been using greater celandine to [1+, 2, 3]:

  • Treat lung and liver diseases
  • Stimulate digestion and bile secretion
  • Fight infections and support immunity
  • Remove warts and skin ulcers

Chinese traditional medicine uses “bai-qu-cai” (greater celandine) to boost circulation, combat cramps and menstrual pain, treat jaundice, and much more. Russians call it “chistotel bolshoi,” which translates to “strong cleansing” [4+].

Celandine poppy (Stylophorum diphyllum) is native to North America, but people around the globe cultivate it for big bright-yellow flowers.

Lesser celandine (Ficaria verna, ex. Ranunculus ficaria) belongs to the buttercup family (Ranunculaceae). It has a short history as an herbal remedy for hemorrhoids, but nowadays folks mostly use it in gardening.

These two plants don’t have well-documented medicinal properties, so this article will focus on the health benefits of greater celandine.

Snapshot of Celandine

PROS

  • Has anticancer properties
  • Supports gallbladder and digestive health
  • Reduces inflammation and allergic reactions
  • Fights infections and stimulates immunity
  • May protect the brain
  • May prevent osteoporosis
  • May lower cholesterol and protect blood vessels

CONS

  • Potentially toxic to the liver
  • May provoke allergic reactions
  • May disturb heart rate
  • Not well studied in humans

Bioactive Components

Above-ground parts of greater celandine (Chelidonium majus) have the broadest medical use. The dried herb is used for solid and liquid extracts, while the juice and sap come from fresh stems and leaves. Some herbalists in Eastern and Central Europe also use the roots [2+].

Celandine contains a group of alkaloids with a unique structure (isoquinoline) and diverse medicinal properties [5, 6, 7+, 8]:

  • Chelidonine
  • Coptisine
  • Sanguinarine
  • Chelerythrine
  • Berberine

Chelidonine is the primary alkaloid in celandine, named after this plant (Chelidonium). In standardized celandine products, total alkaloid content is expressed as the percentage of chelidonine [9+, 8].

Celandine alkaloid content increases during the day, making the evening most suitable for harvest. In the roots, they reach 2 – 3% while the above-ground parts contain up to 1.5% alkaloids [10+, 11].

Celandine also contains [7+, 5, 12+, 13]:

How Does Celandine Work?

Well-documented health effects of celandine include [2+, 1+, 5]:

  • Fighting bacteria, viruses, and fungi
  • Boosting the immune response
  • Supporting digestion
  • Reducing inflammation
  • Enhancing antioxidant defense

With their complex pharmacological actions, celandine alkaloids support the cardiovascular system, digestive system, immunity, and bone health [14, 15, 16, 17].

This herb also has a mildly bitter taste, which may contribute to its potential to jumpstart your digestion [4+].

Complex carbs, enzymes, and lectins from greater celandine boost the immune system and combat infections [18, 19, 20].

NOTE: Certain people, especially those with inflammatory and autoimmune disorders, may want to avoid lectins in their diet and supplementation.

Chelidonic acid can block inflammation, protect the brain, and support gut health [21, 22, 23].

Flavonoids in greater celandine, such as rutin and quercetin, are known for their potent antioxidant action [24, 25].

Health Benefits

1) Gallbladder Health

The gallbladder stores the bile acids produced in the liver and releases them into the small intestine, playing a vital role in fat digestion and metabolism.

A clinical study on 37 patients with liver disease confirmed that celandine stimulates the gallbladder and improves bile flow. This herb also had a positive impact on the pancreas, boosting the production of digestive enzymes [15].

In a clinical study on 76 patients with gallbladder issues, a standardized mixture of celandine and turmeric dry extracts (Cholagogum F Nattermann) alleviated cramps with zero sideeffects. However, it failed to reduce other complaints, such as bloating, nausea and vomiting [26].

In another clinical study, 30 patients with painful gallbladder cramps received 6 pills of celandine extract daily for 6 weeks. Celandine stimulated the gallbladder and reduced their symptoms [27+].

Two observational studies (800+ patients) confirmed that greater celandine could reduce stomach pain, gallbladder cramps, bloating, and other complaints [1+].

In a study on isolated rat liver, celandine extract stimulated the secretion of bile acids [28].

The above studies justify the traditional use of this herb for gallbladder issues. However, larger clinical trials are needed to confirm it is an effective remedy.

2) Irritable Bowel Syndrome (IBS)

Irritable Bowel Syndrome (IBS) therapy aims to control bowel movements and fix the symptoms, but there is room for improvement.

One review analyzed the results of 75 clinical trials (~8k patients) to see which herbal preparations may relieve IBS. Among others, a herbal mixture with bitters and celandine (Iberogast) improved IBS symptoms [29].

In a clinical study on 208 patients with IBS, Iberogast (3 ml/day for 4 weeks) reduced stomach pain and improved other symptoms of IBS [30+].

All Iberogast ingredients, including celandine, have beneficial effects on the bowels [31].

Studies on isolated small intestines confirmed that celandine alkaloids could reduce bowel contractions caused by different triggers. In one study, however, this effect was weak [32, 33, 34].

3) Improving Digestion

In folk medicine, people often use celandine to improve digestion and get rid of unpleasant symptoms such as bloating, nausea, and cramps.

A meta-analysis of 3 clinical trials (273 patients) confirmed that a mixture of liquid extracts with celandine (Iberogast) could improve the main symptoms of indigestion. During the 4-week treatment (3 ml/day), patients reported no significant side effects [35+].

Another meta-analysis included the data from 592 patients with indigestion, receiving the same treatment. According to the results, Iberogast can safely relieve indigestion [36].

That said, celandine extract makes up only 10% of Iberogast volume. Other herbs in this mixture must have contributed to the observed effects [35+].

In one older study, celandine capsules improved stomach pain, nausea, passing gas, and bloating over 6 weeks in 30 people [37+].

4) Cancer

Anticancer effects of celandine and its components are well-documented in the scientific literature. Led by these findings, a team of Ukrainian scientists developed a drug based on celandine alkaloids.

Named after its country of origin, Ukrain has a long history of use for different types of cancer. Due to controversial findings of its content and health effects, the FDA hasn’t approved Ukrain.

Although marketed as a semi-synthetic drug, multiple analyses failed to confirm this claim. Instead, they detected chelidonine and other celandine alkaloids in Ukrain. The authors suggest that the medical properties of Ukrain come from these natural compounds [38, 39].

Clinical Studies

Three clinical trials with 163 patients investigated the effects of Ukrain on pancreatic cancer. In the first one, Ukrain doubled survival time (10.4 vs. 5.2 months) when added to chemotherapy. Ukrain alone showed better results than chemo with similar side-effects [40].

Ukrain increased the chance of one-year survival 8 times (76% vs. 9.5%) in the second study and almost 6 times in the third (81% vs. 14%) when added to supportive treatment. Ukrain also relieved the symptoms and improved quality of life [41, 42].

Two clinical studies (144 patients) examined the effects of Ukrain (vs. chemo and radiation combined) on colon cancer. In the first study, the 21-month survival rate was more than double (79% vs. 33%) with Ukrain treatment [43].

In the second study, cancer had a 3 times lower chance of returning after surgery (8% vs. 25%) in patients who received Ukrain. Clinical and tissue analysis also confirmed the potential of Ukrain to kill cancer cells and support immunity [44].

Two trials tested Ukrain in 27 patients with different types of cancer. The results revealed [45]:

  • Increased production of cancer-fighting immune cells (T-cells, T-helpers, NK-cells)
  • Improvement of patients’ symptoms and quality of life
  • No major side effects

Small sample size casts a shadow of doubt on the listed clinical trials and their findings.

A review of 7 clinical studies confirmed the beneficial effects of Ukrain on different types of cancer but also pointed to some crucial flaws in those studies (see ‘Limitations and Caveats’) [46].

Case Reports

Individual case reports suggest that Ukrain may help with [47, 48, 49, 50, 51]:

  • Breast cancer
  • Cervical cancer
  • Ovarian cancer
  • Melanoma (skin cancer)
  • Testicular cancer

Animal Studies

Stomach cancer is the 4th most common and the 2nd deadliest in humans, still lacking effective treatment options. In rats with stomach cancer, celandine (Chelidonium majus) extract prevented cell mutations and injury [52, 53].

In mice with liver cancer, celandine extract was able to [54]:

  • Slow down cancer progression
  • Reduce the damage of genetic material
  • Protect the liver

In mice with advanced pancreatic cancer, celandine extract reduced the number of metastases but didn’t impact the primary tumors (on the pancreas). Ukrain, in contrast, didn’t show significant effects [55].

Cell Studies

Celandine and its alkaloids can kill different types of cancer cells and block their growth. They showed the most potent effects on:

  • Breast cancer cells [56, 57, 55, 58, 59]
  • Leukemia (blood cancer) cells [60, 61, 25]
  • Colon cancer cells [55, 58, 62]
  • Melanoma (skin cancer) cells [63, 59]

Chelidonine and chelerythrine showed the strongest anticancer action.

In one study, chelidonine induced death of human cervical cancer cells and blocked their spreading. However, another study showed no effect of celandine extracts on uterus cancer cells [64, 55].

Celandine alkaloids are selectively toxic: they can target and kill cancer cells while sparing the healthy ones from damage [63, 20, 58].

The resistance of cancer cells to chemotherapy is on the rise, posing huge challenges to cancer treatment. Celandine alkaloids may combat some drugresistant cancer cells and boost the effects of chemotherapy [65, 66, 67, 62, 58].

5) Boosting Immunity & Protecting Against Radiation

The potential of celandine to fight cancer and other diseases partly comes from its immune-boosting effects.

A Russian clinical study compared different remedies to support the children’s immune system and reduce tonsil inflammation. Celandine tincture (liquid extract) improved the function of tonsils and boosted the immune response, making the children more resistant to infections [68].

Since this study doesn’t reveal essential details such as sample size, we should take the results with a grain of salt.

Ukrain, a drug based on celandine alkaloids, also stimulated the immune system in clinical trials [45, 44, 69].

Radiation is a standard cancer treatment that can weaken the immune system by killing healthy cells in bone marrow and other tissues [70+].

In studies on rats and mice, Ukrain boosted the production of stem cells and immune cells, protecting the animals from the harmful effects of radiation [71, 72].

In mice exposed to radiation, a complex carb (CM-AIa) isolated from celandine was able to [73]:

  • Stimulate the immune response
  • Increase the number of cells in bone marrow, spleen, and blood
  • Induce the production of cancer-fighting and recovery proteins

On top of that, 80% of mice treated with CM-AIa survived a lethal dose of radiation.

In a cell study, spleen cells exposed to CM-AIa multiplied 84 times faster, but the effect on stem cells was weak [19].

6) Lowering Cholesterol and Protecting Blood Vessels

Hardening and clogging of blood vessels (atherosclerosis) lurks as the leading cause of cardiovascular diseases, being responsible for 50% of all deaths. Cholesterol and calcium buildup, inflammation, and oxidative damage gradually clog the vessels and deprive vital organs of blood supply [74+].

Different reviews of clinical and animal studies confirmed that berberine, one of the alkaloids from celandine, can [16, 75, 76]:

  • Protect blood vessels from inflammation and oxidative damage
  • Reduce the levels of LDL-cholesterol and blood lipids
  • Increase the level of HDL-cholesterol, which plays a protective role
  • Boost the metabolism of fat tissue and glucose

Coptisine, another celandine alkaloid, reduced LDL-cholesterol, blood lipids, and main inflammation markers (IL-6, IL-1β, and TNF-α) in mice. As a result, coptisine significantly decreased the plaque in arteries [77].

A study on hamsters revealed similar results: coptisine cut blood lipids (by 15%), and LDL-cholesterol (by 22%) while increasing the “good” cholesterol (HDL) by 42% [78].

Potent anti-inflammatory and antioxidant effects of celandine and its compounds may contribute to these benefits and protect blood vessels from damage [79+, 14, 24].

The above studies used purified alkaloids, not the plant extract. Large clinical trials should explore these effects of celandine and pave its way into lipid-lowering supplements.

Animal and Cell Studies

The following studies were conducted on animals and cells only.

7) Bone Health

In osteoporosis, bones become weak and fragile. When women enter menopause and lose the protective effects of estrogen, osteoporosis and fractures become their No. 1 health threat [80].

Ukrain, a drug based on celandine alkaloids, may prevent osteoporosis. In menopausal rats, Ukrain [81, 82]:

  • Increased levels of estrogen
  • Prevented bone mineral loss
  • Stimulated bone formation

Sanguinarine, an alkaloid from celandine, showed similar effects in rats and mice [17, 83].

8) Asthma

In allergic asthma, the airways are exposed to massive inflammation caused by an outside trigger. Mast cells, histamine, and IgE antibodies play a central role in this disease [84+, 85].

In a study done on asthmatic guinea-pigs, alkaloids from celandine (Chelidonium majus) [86]:

  • Increased time without symptoms
  • Cut the risk of asthmatic attacks
  • Soothed the airways and improved their function
  • Blocked the effects of histamine

In another study, chelidonine blocked the production of IgE antibodies and inflammatory proteins (IL-4, IL-13) in the airways of asthmatic mice [87].
In rats, chelidonic acid blocked mast cells and reduced the level of IgE antibodies. Its effects were similar to an anti-inflammatory drug and it decreased the risk of death due to allergic reactions [21].

9) Allergic Rhinitis

In mice with allergic rhinitis (inflammation of nasal airways), chelidonic acid and coptisine were able to [88, 89]:

  • Reduce the level of IgE antibodies
  • Block the production of inflammatory proteins (IL-1beta, IL-4, TNF-alpha)
  • Inhibit inflammatory enzymes (COX-2)
  • Stop the spreading of mast cells
  • Reduce typical symptoms such as nose and ear rubbing

10) Eczema

Atopic dermatitis is the most common type of eczema. Doctors are still looking for the exact cause of this inflammatory disease and often fail to manage the symptoms [90].

In mice with atopic dermatitis, celandine extract reduced the levels of IgE antibodies and other markers of inflammation. As a result, celandine soothed the skin and relieved other symptoms [91].

Other animal and cell studies confirm the potential of celandine and its compounds to control inflammation and allergic reactions [79, 14, 92].

11) Stomach Ulcers

The stomach lining has complex mechanisms to protect itself from strong digestive acid. When these mechanisms fail, and acid burns the stomach cells, ulcers may form [93+].

In a study on rats, celandine (C. majus) extract was able to protect the animals from stomach ulcers by [94]:

  • Reducing acid secretion
  • Boosting the secretion of protective mucus
  • Stimulating the production of protective molecules (prostaglandin E2)
  • Blocking inflammatory molecules (leukotrienes)

12) Inflammatory Bowel Disease (IBD)

Inflammatory bowel disease (IBD) often comes with unpleasant symptoms that spoil patients’ quality of life. The 2 most common types of IBD are Crohn’s disease and ulcerative colitis [95+].

In mice with ulcerative colitis (severe colon inflammation), chelidonic acid showed protective and anti-inflammatory effects. It blocked inflammation proteins (IL-6, TNF-alpha) and enzymes (COX-2), improving the symptoms such as weight loss and colon shortening [23].

A study on human cells found that celandine can soothe colon inflammation. Celandine extract was the only component of the mixture (Iberogast) able to cut the levels of IL-8 protein [96+].

13) Heart Disease

Sudden changes in blood and oxygen flow can damage the cells and lead to heart disease.

In animal studies, celandine alkaloids – coptisine and berberine – were able to protect heart cells from this damage by blocking cell death and inflammation. As a result, the animals’ heart function improved [97, 98].

Studies on heart cells have confirmed these effects of coptisine and berberine [99, 100].

14) Depression

Inflammation of neurons plays a role in depression. A study done on mice investigated if chelidonic acid, known for its strong anti-inflammatory action, could reduce the signs of depression.

In depressed mice under stress, chelidonic acid improved behavior and aided in recovery. What’s more, chelidonic acid [22]:

  • Stimulated the centers for memory and emotions in their brains (the hippocampus)
  • Boosted the production of BDNF
  • Blocked the expression of inflammatory genes in the brain
  • Increased levels of dopamine, noradrenaline, and serotonin

15) Alzheimer’s Disease

Alzheimer’s disease attacks brain neurons. Inflammation, deformed proteins, and the lack of acetylcholine (ACh) kill the neurons and break their connections. Scientists are still looking for effective treatment options and herbal remedies [101+].

In mice with Alzheimer’s disease, coptisine inhibited the enzyme responsible for brain damage. As a result, this celandine alkaloid protected the neurons and improved cognition [102].

Some drugs for Alzheimer’s disease increase the levels of acetylcholine (ACh) by blocking acetylcholinesterase (AChE) – an enzyme that breaks ACh down.

Cell studies indicate that celandine and its main alkaloid, chelidonine, can also block AChE and serve as a model for developing Alzheimer’s disease drugs [103, 104].

The lack of the neurotransmitter GABA  can cause brain damage and mental illness [105].

Chelidonic acid from celandine inhibits glutamate decarboxylase – an enzyme that cuts GABA. Thus, chelidonic acid may boost the levels of GABA and enhance the brain-protecting effects of celandine. What’s more, this points its targeted anti-anxiety potential, which has yet to be researched [106].

16) Infections

Bacteria

In cell studies on bacteria, celandine extract and its alkaloids prevented the growth of [107, 108, 109]:

  • Bacteria that may attack the skin, urinary tract, lungs, and soft tissues (E. coli, S. aureus, Bacillus species)
  • MRSA – S. aureus resistant to common antibiotics
  • Pseudomonas aeruginosa – dangerous hospital bacteria resistant to many antibiotics
  • Streptococcus mutans, which causes tooth decay

Lectins and enzymes from celandine sap may also fight bacteria [18, 20].

Viruses

In one animal study, celandine blocked the HIV-1 virus, which causes AIDS. Mice receiving celandine extract had milder symptoms of infection [110].

In a cell study, celandine alkaloids were able to fight HIV-1 by blocking reverse transcriptase, an enzyme vital for the survival of this virus [111+].

In another cell study, celandine could fight the herpes simplex virus (HSV), which causes warts. This effect depended on the type of extract used [112+].

Fungi

Fusarium strains – which may attack the eyes, skin, and nails – are highly resistant to conventional drugs, but a liquid celandine extract was able to block their growth [113].

Celandine alkaloids may also combat certain drug-resistant yeasts and improve the treatment of fungal infections [114, 115].

17) Pain

Traditionally, people have used celandine to relieve toothache and painful cramps.

In a study on rats, 2 types of celandine extracts acted as strong painkillers. Researchers described their effects as similar to morphine [116].

In cell studies, celandine and individual alkaloids blocked the pain signals in brain cells [117, 118].

18) Rheumatoid Arthritis

Rheumatoid arthritis is an autoimmune disease in which the immune cells attack cartilage. This leads to inflammation in the joints, making them swollen and painful [119+].

In mice with rheumatoid arthritis, celandine extract [120]:

  • Blocked inflammation proteins (TNF-alpha, IL-6)
  • Protected cartilage from damage
  • Reduced the level of harmful antibodies

Other animal and cell studies have confirmed the anti-inflammatory effects of this herb [79, 14, 92].

Conflicting Evidence

19) Effects on the Liver

Protection

According to animal studies, celandine may protect the liver against toxic chemicals. On the other hand, it has caused liver damage in some people.

In rats and mice exposed to liver-damaging chemicals, celandine extract was able to [121, 122+, 54]:

  • Prevent the death of liver cells
  • Reduce liver scarring
  • Lower fat buildup in the liver
  • Prevent liver cancer

In mice, a nano-formulation (tiny particles) of chelidonine, a celandine alkaloid, protected the liver from oxidative damage (by cadmium) and restored the levels of enzymes, fats, and cholesterol [123].

Damage

Medical literature reveals 20+ case reports of celandine-induced liver damage. According to these reports, ingesting celandine caused [124, 125, 126]:

  • Jaundice
  • Increased liver enzymes
  • Tissue damage and inflammation

The authors didn’t find what caused this damaging effect, but, in most patients, it only happened after the long-term use [124+, 127].

No clinical trials have confirmed the liver-damaging effects of celandine and its components.

In a study on rats, celandine extract didn’t damage the liver in doses 50 – 100 times higher than the regular human ones (1.5 – 3 g/kg). However, it did cause a drop in glutathione (GSH) and protective liver enzymes [128].

Celandine in Homeopathy

Celandine also found its way into different homeopathic remedies for liver disease, indigestion, infections, and more. However, homeopathic remedies are extremely diluted and don’t rely on the proven pharmacological actions of their ingredients.

Homeopathic celandine has shown potential health benefits, but we can’t draw reliable conclusions from these results.

Viral Hepatitis

According to a report of 2 cases, homeopathic celandine (Chelidonium majus 6X) in combination with other homeopathic pills helped with serious hepatitis infections [129].

Liver Protection

Animal and cell studies indicate liver-protecting effects of homeopathic celandine. In mice with liver cancer, two dilutions of homeopathic celandine (CH30 and CH200) protected the liver by [130, 131]:

  • Blocking toxic enzymes
  • Protecting DNA
  • Preventing the growth of tumors

Researches tested another homeopathic remedy with celandine on human liver cells. It protected the cells from toxic cadmium and restored their function [132].

The central homeopathic principle – “like cures like” – presumes that a highly diluted substance can cure a disease it would otherwise cause. Interestingly enough, this principle may explain the conflicting evidence of celandine effects on the liver.

Side Effects & Precautions

Celandine and its components didn’t show any major side effects in clinical trials [30+, 26, 133, 16].

Ukrain, an anticancer drug with celandine alkaloids, was also well tolerated in clinical trials. Reported side-effects include [45, 40, 46+]:

  • Increased body temperature (26 patients)
  • Burning sensations (3 patients)
  • Bleeding (4 patients)

Reports of liver damage caused by celandine, however, point to its dangerous side and suggest caution. People with liver problems should avoid celandine [124, 125, 126, 127].

Pregnant women, breastfeeding women, and children should avoid celandine due to the lack of safety evidence.

People allergic to celandine or other plants from the poppy family (Papaveraceae) should avoid celandine in all forms.

One study found that celandine alkaloids may impair the heart rate in dogs. Although no other studies confirmed this effect, people with heart rate issues may want to avoid celandine [134].

Drug Interactions

Celandine extract may inhibit an essential group of liver enzymes (CYPs) that break down drugs and other chemicals. The following medicines also affect these enzymes and thus may interact with celandine [135+, 136, 137+]:

  • Antiviral drugs
  • Antifungal (azole) drugs
  • Lipid-lowering drugs (statins)
  • Antiepileptic drugs (drugs for seizures)
  • Antidepressants (SSRIs)

Because of its immune-boosting properties, celandine may block the effects of drugs that suppress immunity, such as corticosteroids [138, 45, 44, 69].

Celandine and its alkaloids may reduce cholesterol and blood lipids and thus interact with lipid-lowering drugs, such as statins [16, 75, 76, 78].

Limitations and Caveats

  • Clinical trials haven’t confirmed the majority of celandine health benefits.
  • Clinical trials with celandine digestive benefits included other herbs that likely contributed to the results [133, 139, 26].
  • Many studies used isolated alkaloids and chelidonic acid, not a celandine extract.

Most clinical trials with cancer patients had significant design flaws such as [46+]:

  • The lack of control groups
  • Small sample size
  • Suspicious randomization (separating of the patients in different groups)
  • The lack of randomization
  • Conflict of interest (involvement of Ukrain manufacturers)

Genetics

Celandine achieves some positive health effects on the level of gene expression and DNA protection.

Different celandine components can inhibit NF-κB, a protein complex that regulates inflammation and immunity genes [140, 92, 77].

Chelidonine, a significant alkaloid from celandine, can also inhibit telomerase, an enzyme that controls the length of DNA and regulates the life cycle of each cell. Celandine shortens telomeres, the specialized structures cancer cells activate to uncontrollably grow and divide. This may, in part, explain its unique cancer-fighting activity [141, 57].

Supplements & Dosage

Celandine tinctures (liquid extract) made from above-ground parts of the plant are the most common product on the market. Celandine is also available as:

  • Dried herb
  • Dry extract in pills, often combined with other herbs (e.g., Cholagogum F Nattermann)
  • Liquid extract in wart-removal kits
  • Liquid extract as a part of herbal mixtures (e.g., Iberogast)
  • Soaps and creams with celandine extract

Cholagogum F Nattermann contains dry celandine extract, standardized to 4 mg of total alkaloids (expressed as chelidonine). Other products don’t reveal the standardization details.

Homeopathic celandine is available in pills and drops. The most common dilutions are 6C, 30C, and 200C (1/100 dilution repeated 6, 30, or 200 times).

In summary, the market offers a wide variety of herbal and homeopathic products with celandine. However, you should consult with your doctor before using such a potent herb.

Dosage

In clinical trials, celandine was safe and effective in the following doses:

  • Gallbladder disorders: Dry extract (4 mg of alkaloids), 3 6 pills/day, 3 6 weeks [26, 27+]
  • Indigestion: Iberogast – 3×1 ml/day, containing 0.3 ml celandine tincture [133, 139, 96+]

In a large observational study, patients took 375 500 mg of a celandine tincture (9 – 12 mg of total alkaloids) daily for 3 weeks [1+].

European Medicines Agency (EMA) suggests the following doses of celandine [142+]:

  • Dried herb: 1.2 3.6 g daily, as an infusion (tea)
  • Tincture: 2 4 ml daily (1:5 dilution) or 6 12 ml daily (1:10 dilution)

In clinical trials with cancer patients, Ukrain (a drug based on celandine alkaloids) was injected under strict medical supervision.

User Experiences

Users report mixed experiences with celandine supplements and products.

Most of them managed to soothe the skin and relieve indigestion, while the results for wart removal are mixed. Some users also reported a complete lack of effects.

One woman used it to prevent migraines, but another user reported a headache after recommended doses. He was pleased with the results after reducing the dose, warning other users to go slow with celandine.

Buy Celandine

Take-Away:

Of the three plants named celandine, only greater celandine (Chelidonium majus) has well-documented health benefits. In traditional medicine, folks have been using it to detox, improve digestion, remove warts, boost circulation, and more.

Alkaloids (chelidonine, coptisine, sanguinarine, berberine) and other celandine compounds have potent anti-inflammatory, antimicrobial, immune-stimulating, and anticancer properties.

Thanks to this unique blend, celandine may combat digestive issues, infections, allergies, cardiovascular diseases, and even aid in cancer prevention. Although celandine has promising health effects, most of them have been tested only on animals and cells.

In clinical trials, celandine was safe and well-tolerated. However, cases of liver damage caused by celandine reveal the dangerous side of this plant. Pregnant and breastfeeding women, children, and people with liver problems should avoid celandine, while others should use it with caution.

Large well-designed clinical trials should examine the health benefits and safety of this controversial herb.

About the Author

Aleksa Ristic, MSc (Pharmacy)

MS Pharm

Aleksa received his MS in Pharmacy from the University of Belgrade, his master thesis focusing on protein sources in plant-based diets.

 

Aleksa is passionate about herbal pharmacy, nutrition, and functional medicine. He found a way to merge his two biggest passions—writing and health—and use them for noble purposes. His mission is to bridge the gap between science and everyday life, helping readers improve their health and feel better.

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