Note: Chelidonium is dicey; it's been implicated in liver disease. Don't use it. -Henriette.
The whole plant of Chelidonium majus, Linné (Nat. Ord. Papaveraceae). Europe naturalized in waste places in the United States. Dose, 1 to 60 grains.
Common Names: Celandine, Great Celandine, Tetterwort.
Principal Constituents.—Chelerythrine (identical with the alkaloid sanguinarine), chelidonine (stylophorine), and malic and chelidonic acids.
Preparation.—Specific Medicine Chelidonium. Dose, 1 to 15 drops.
Specific Indications.—Full, pale, sallow tongue and membranes; skin sallow, sometimes greenish; hepatic congestion; jaundice due to swollen bile ducts; sluggish liver action with light pasty stools; reflex cough from hepatic pain; fullness with tensive or throbbing pain in the right hypochondrium, with dull pain radiating to the right shoulder; melancholia, headache and stomach disorders depending upon imperfect hepatic function.
Action and Therapy.—External. The fresh juice of chelidonium applied to the skin produces rubefaction, inflammation and vesication. It will destroy verrucous growths.
Internal. Internally, in full doses chelidonium is a drastic hydragogue purgative, operating much like gamboge. Though reputed to be of some value locally as a stimulant and vulnerary, its present use is confined almost wholly to disorders hinging on imperfect or faulty hepatic function. It also appears to act somewhat upon the spleen, probably including most of those parts of the splanchnic area supplied by the chylopoietic vessels and the branches of the solar plexus.
Chelidonium is one of the best remedies for biliary catarrh resulting from hepatic congestion and for jaundice occasioned by swelling of the bile ducts, as a result of subacute inflammation. The best guide to its use is the tenderness and tensive or throbbing pain of the hypochondrium with dull pains extending to beneath the right shoulder blade. While there is more or less localized pain, there is no general abdominal pain as a rule. The skin and membranes have the usual appearance of hepatic obstruction, the stools are clay-colored, the urine cloudy and pale with rather high specific gravity, or it may be loaded with bile. Sometimes there is edema of the extremities. Under these conditions we have seen chelidonium clear up distressing conditions and prolong the intervals between attacks of gall-stone colic. In one severe case of gall-stone colic, which was but a repetition of many preceding ones, no other attacks followed the use of chelidonium, the patient being under observation for many years, and occasionally taking a dose of the medicine. It is not a remedy for the paroxysms of hepatic colic, but to prevent or repair the condition upon which they depend.
When hemorrhoids, splenic congestion, dyspepsia, headache, migraine, supra-orbital neuralgias and cough are dependent mostly upon the liver disorders helped by chelidonium, they are proportionately relieved by the action of chelidonium upon the latter. The greatest drawback to chelidonium is its horribly nasty taste.
The Eclectic Materia Medica, Pharmacology and Therapeutics, 1922, was written by Harvey Wickes Felter, M.D.