Chelidonium majus, or greater celandine, has a long history of use in many European countries. Ancient Greeks, Pliny the Elder and Dioscorides all called celandine an effective detoxifying agent. The Romans used celandine as a blood cleanser. The French herbalist Maurice Mességué cited celandine tea for help with liver problems.
Its use also extends to traditional Chinese medicine, and it’s become an important part of western phytotherapy. Extracts of greater celandine have exhibited a broad spectrum of toxicity to harmful organisms as well as liver protecting activity. This has led to the inclusion of greater celandine in liver and gallbladder cleansing and support protocols.
Benefits of Greater Celandine
Greater celandine extract has strong antioxidant potential, specifically from the alkaloid and flavonoid components.  The greatest content of the beneficial alkaloids has been found in the root, sometimes achieving 2-3% concentrations. This has prompted greater celandine to be included in preparations designed to support the biliary tract and liver,  such as Livatrex®, my enhanced blend of herbs that help detoxify and support the normal function of the liver and gallbladder.
Greater celandine extract has been shown to support bile production. Extra bile helps the body’s digestion processes perform more effectively, specifically by breaking down fat and facilitating toxin removal.
Greater celandine contains chelidonic acid, which has been found to relieve discomfort and be aggressive against certain harmful organisms. In one study, chelidonic acid was found to temper indications of ulcerative colitis and provided the foreground for examination into greater celandine’s therapeutic role in relieving other intestinal irritation. 
Defense Against Harmful Organisms
The School of Stomatology at China Medical University studied the effects of greater celandine extract on streptococcus; researchers noted significant activity against harmful organisms.  The University of Milan in Italy also found greater celandine extracts and isolated compounds to exhibit significant activity against harmful organisms. 
The Department of Tropical and Subtropical Crops at Czech University in the Czech Republic tested the activity of extracts from 16 Siberian plants against five species of microorganisms. Greater celandine was among the five plants shown to have the highest activity. 
The preliminary reports really provide a positive glimpse into the potential for greater celandine. As always, consult your healthcare provider before taking any supplement, especially if a history of liver disease exists in your family. A few reports have been passed around of some people experiencing liver problems as a result of very large amounts; however, these reports are anecdotal. Regardless, if you’re pregnant or nursing, avoid greater celandine for the time being.
- Nadova S, Miadokova E, Alfoldiova L, Kopaskova M, Hasplova K, Hudecova A, Vaculcikova D, Gregan F, Cipak L. Potential antioxidant activity, cytotoxic and apoptosis-inducing effects of Chelidonium majus L. extract on leukemia cells. Neuro Endocrinol Lett. 2008 Oct;29(5):649-52.
- Táborská E, Bochoráková H, Dostál J, Paulová H. [The greater celandine (Chelidonium majus L.)–review of present knowledge]. Ceska Slov Farm. 1995 Apr;44(2):71-5. Review. Czech.
- Kim DS, Kim SJ, Kim MC, Jeon YD, Um JY, Hong SH. The therapeutic effect of chelidonic acid on ulcerative colitis. Biol Pharm Bull. 2012;35(5):666-71.
- Cheng RB, Chen X, Liu SJ, Zhang XF, Zhang GH. [Experimental study of the inhibitory effects of Chelidonium majus L. extractive on Streptococcus mutans in vitro]. Shanghai Kou Qiang Yi Xue. 2006 Jun;15(3):318-20. Chinese.
- Colombo ML, Bosisio E. Pharmacological activities of Chelidonium majus L. (Papaveraceae). Pharmacol Res. 1996 Feb;33(2):127-34. Review.
- Kokoska L, Polesny Z, Rada V, Nepovim A, Vanek T. Screening of some Siberian medicinal plants for antimicrobial activity. J Ethnopharmacol. 2002 Sep;82(1):51-3.