top of page



Botanical Name

Chelidonium majus

Common Name

Celandine, greater celandine, garden celandine, common celandine, devil’s milk, rock poppy, swallow-wort, tetterwort



Parts Used

Aerial parts, latex, roots

Native To

Celandine’s native range extends from Macaronesia, North Africa, and Europe to Russia and portions of Asia, including the Mediterranean and parts of the Middle East

Harvesting Guidelines

Greater celandine is a herb that is typically harvested by hand during the spring and autumn seasons. To avoid any potential skin irritation, gloves are worn during the harvesting process. The plant exudes latex from all parts, which can cause the harvested herb to stick together and appear unsightly when dried or contaminate other herbs. The concentration of alkaloids in the herb varies depending on the season and time of day, with the highest levels occurring in the evenings during the summer months. However, the phenolic content is highest in the early spring when the plant is still in its vegetative state, and again when it begins to form fruit. For the highest concentration of alkaloids, the roots of 1- to 2-year-old plants are best harvested between early spring and autumn, with the highest levels occurring in late autumn.


Celandine, also known as Greater Celandine, has been used in herbal medicine for centuries. It has been traditionally used to treat a variety of ailments, including liver and gallbladder issues, stomach ulcers, toothaches, abdominal pain, and skin problems. The plant's latex is also commonly used in folk medicine as a topical treatment for viral warts.

Greater celandine, a plant with a rich history in folk herbalism, played a role in groundbreaking pharmacological research. When morphine was discovered in the early 19th century, it sparked the development of alkaloid chemistry as a new scientific field. As a member of the poppy family, greater celandine became a subject of interest, leading to the discovery of chelidonine in 1824 and a whole new range of alkaloids and isolation methods. Despite its contributions to science, this plant remains relatively unknown to many.(1)

Greater celandine has a long history of being associated with magical practices. In fact, it was considered a true witch's plant by Flemish folklorist Isidoor Teirlinck. In some parts of Germany, it was even called "witches' milk" and used to make a magical ointment that could remove spells from children or possessed persons. Interestingly, it was believed that the herb should be harvested from a graveyard or applied during a funeral under the light of the waning moon to be most effective. Saint Albertus Magnus, a German theologian and natural philosopher, wrote in The Book of Secrets that greater celandine, when combined with the heart of a mole, could help one rise above enemies and protect against quarrels and disputes. Additionally, celandine applied to the head of a sick person was believed to either cause them to start singing if death was imminent or cry if they would overcome their ailment.(2)

Celandine has been used in modern herbalism to aid liver and gallbladder function by acting as a cholagogue and choleretic. Its anti-inflammatory properties make it effective in treating cramp-like pain in the gastrointestinal tract and gall ducts. Herbalist Matthew Wood recommends celandine as a primary herb for conditions where bile congestion in the gallbladder causes inflammation and irritation of the gall ducts, resulting in thickened bile and digestive tract imbalances. Celandine is also useful in treating gallbladder-related headaches and neuralgic pains in the face and head. However, German physicians and herbalists Fintelmann and Weiss caution that celandine should be used under the guidance of an experienced practitioner and combined with other cholagogue herbs for optimal results.(3)

Celandine, also known as chistotel in Russia, has been used for medicinal purposes for centuries. Its latex is particularly useful in removing warts, corns, and fungal infections, and is even recognized in official Russian medicine. According to a popular Russian folk tale, a princess suffering from eczema was miraculously healed after coming into contact with a celandine plant.(4)

It was developed by the Ukrainian chemist Vasyl Novytskyi in 1978, and is a licensed drug in some countries of Eastern Europe and Russia. A review of clinical trials conducted by Ernst and Schmidt ) found that the drug appears to have anticancer activity in a wide range of cell lines, which could be of clinical value. However, they also caution that there have been methodological issues in the studies and additional clinical research is needed before any meaningful conclusions can be drawn .The Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center (2021) stated that, as of 2021, “Ukrain has not been shown to prevent or treat cancer, but may be useful as palliative care in some instances.(5)


Adult Dose

Not for internal use unless under the guidance of an experienced practitioner.


The use of greater celandine should be approached with caution due to conflicting information about its effects on the liver. While some herbalists recommend internal use for up to 4 weeks and claim no toxic effects from normal doses, others warn against taking celandine preparations altogether. Clinical trials have not provided enough evidence to support its use, according to the European Medicines Agency, and there have been reports of hepatotoxic effects, including hepatitis that can be life-threatening. It is important to consult with a healthcare professional before using celandine for any purpose.(6)



Drying, Warming


(1)Plescher, A. (2013). Schöllkraut (Chelidonium majus L.). (2013). In B. Hoppe (Ed.), Handbuch des Arznei-und Gewürzpflanzenbaus: Band 5 Arznei- und Gewürzpflanzenbaus L-Z [Handbook of medicinal and spice plants: Volume 5 medicinal and spice plants L-Z] (pp. 488-513). Verein für Arznei und Gewürzpflanzen SALUPLANTA eV Bernburg.

(2)Teirlinck, I. (1926). Flora magica: De plant in de tooverwereld [Flora magica: Plants in the magical world]. De Sikkel.

(3)Fintelmann, V., & Weiss, R.F. (2002). Lehrbuch der Phytotherapie [Textbook of phytotherapy]. Hippokrates.

(4)Zevin, I.V. (1997). A Russian herbal: Traditional remedies for health and healing. Healing Arts Press.

(5)Ernst, E., & Schmidt, K. (2005). Ukrain–a new cancer cure? A systematic review of randomised clinical trials. BMC Cancer, 5(1), 1-7.

(6)Nawrot, J., Wilk-Jędrusik, M., Nawrot, S., Nawrot, K., Wilk, B., Dawid-Pać, R., … Gornowicz-Porowska, J. (2020). Milky sap of greater celandine (Chelidonium majus L.) and anti-viral properties. International Journal of Environmental Research and Public Health, 17(5), Article 1540.


Scientific Research:

Information offered on Achula and on this page is for educational purposes only. Achula makes neither medical claim, nor intends to diagnose or treat medical conditions. Women who are pregnant or nursing, and persons with known medical conditions, should consult their licensed healthcare provider before taking any herbal product. Links to external sites are for informational purposes only. Achula neither endorses them nor is in any way responsible for their content. Readers must do their own research concerning the safety and usage of any herbs or supplements.


bottom of page