Chris Marano of Clearpath Herbals discusses celandine uses and wildcrafts the plant in this video
Here we are on a beautiful, sunny May afternoon in Amherst, MA. We’re here to wildcraft and gather celandine (Chelidonium majus). It’s a European/Eurasian plant that’s been naturalized here in New England for quite some time. It’s a member of the poppy family.
If you notice, one of the key distinguishing features of celandine is its orange-yellow sap that is always present when you break the stem. That’s part of the medicine and also part of celandine’s signature. The color yellow indicates that it may be beneficial for the liver, gallbladder and the digestive system; and in fact, this is one of the major celandine uses. Celandine is potent medicine and must be used in small doses. It is this potent activity that helps relieve a congested liver and, even more so, a congested gallbladder.
Celandine has been called “opium for the gallbladder.” Interesting, as celandine is a member of the poppy family. Celandine uses simultaneously involve dissolving stones and thinning out congested bile while also being numbing to the nerve endings and being antispasmodic. Celandine is very useful for gallbladder release (of bile), therefore allowing the liver to also release and decongest.
Celandine helps with relieving congested liver, jaundice and non-inflammatory hepatitis, meaning hepatitis that is not overly hot or acute. It is never to be used for hot, inflammatory conditions, and it is also to be used only in small doses. In fact, in larger doses, celandine can actually cause an acute hepatitis episode because its energetic influence is hot, dry and activating. Celandine uses do not end here. It is also very good for addressing an enlarged spleen, for helping to alleviate pancreas pain and ache, and also very useful to the entirety of the digestive tract if there is constipation or clay-colored stool that can be sourced to lack of bile due to a congested gallbladder.
Celandine uses also extend to relieving migraines and tension headaches that can be sourced to a congested liver and gallbladder. I use it a lot in small doses to help people who say their headache grips the right side of their head, because that’s the side the liver is on.
Celandine is also an excellent immune system medicine, being a broad-spectrum antibacterial, and very useful in addressing mycoplasma infections from Lyme disease co-infections. It has the ability to curtail inflammation in the brain, making it very useful in protocols for neurological Lyme.
Celandine uses also include anticancer capabilities, and its often used in cancer protocols in China and Russia. Its radioprotective qualities also make it useful in formulas to protect healthy body tissues during radiation therapy.
Celandine uses from eclectic herbalists
In Europe, celandine traditionally is mixed with milk and put into the eyes to help alleviate cataracts. It has long use as a remedy for visual obstructions. Interesting again, as Chinese medicine says that the liver and gallbladder open to the eyes.
I should have mentioned this first, as this is perhaps the most famous of celandine uses. The orange-yellow latex can be applied topically to warts and tags to help burn them away. Herbs that have this corrosive activity toward skin are called escharotic agents. Be careful with it and aim well.
That’s a lot of celandine uses in a nutshell.
Celandine uses and harvesting
Celandine has a really long flowering time, starting in early May here in New England and still often flowering into September. I gather the entire above-ground plant. You could even use the root, but I usually only gather the aerial parts — stem, leaf, and flower. Although the plant is abundant, I use it in very small doses, so a little goes a long way, and there is no need to harvest a lot of it. It is better to make a tincture with the fresh plant. We need about a quart for our apothecary, which means I will need about 1.5 pounds of fresh material.
Whether I take the plants life or not, I always give thanks to the plant for offering itself up. Celandine, however, is going to return with vigor, perhaps in the same year.
Celandine’s leaves are deeply lobed, its flowers are yellow, and it produces long, tapered mustard-looking seed pods. And of course there is the tel-tale orange latex. Its taste is peppery. In the video you can see the orange-yellow medicine oozing from the broken stems.
These are the celandine uses summed up. It will be blended in 60% alcohol at a 1:2 ratio, and the medicine will be ready in a few weeks for our apothecary.
The first online herbal medicine course from Clearpath School of Herbal Medicine is the Foundations of Western Herbalism, Part 1 begins with a systematic and comprehensive exploration of human beings and human health through the lenses of Western/European and First Nations/Native American health modalities while also interweaving principles and practices with contemporary scientific and medical understanding.
Learn more about this online herbalist course here. You can watch an introductory video and take a deeper look at the information you will learn from this course.