Scientific name: Chelidonium majus

Common names: Garden Celandine, Tetterwort, Jewel Weed, Quick-in-Hand, Slippers, Snap Weed, Slipper Weed, Balsam Weed

Ayurvedic names:

Chinese names: bai jie cai

Bangladesh names:

Arabic names:    عروق الصباغين (O’rooqu’ssabbaagheen)

Rain Forest names:

Family: Papaveraceae (Poppy)

Approximate number of species known:

Common parts used: Root, leaf, flower, stem

Collection: Summer

Annual/Perennial: Perennial

Height: 50-90cm    

Actions: Alterative, anodyne, anti-inflammatory, anti-spasmodic, antiviral, caustic, choleretic, cholagogue, diuertic, purgative, spasmolytic, vulnerary

Known Constituents: Alkaloids including chelidnine, chelerythine, chelidonic acid, coptisine, protopine, saponin, usually .6% total alkaloids expressed as chelidonine (C20, H19, NO5)

Constituents Explained:


The flowers contain bright yellow petals

The stem is usally round, robbed and yellowish to greensih brown, hollow and about 3-7mm in diameter.  When reduced to a powder it is usually greyish-green or brownish-green

Traditional Use:

Do not confuse this with lesser celandine, which is also called pilewort.  The name comes from Pliny who called the plant Chelidonium, which comes from the greek word chelidon which means a swallow.

Its sometimes thought of as a herb primarily Used for liver and gall bladder conditions.7  At larger doses the plant is poisonous? And causes the digestive tract to purge its contents.   Used to relax stomach pain. Alchemists once believed it was good for the blood due to it’s intense yellow colour.7 

Traditionally it has been used for migraines and haeomorrhoids.7

The plant has been used externally for fungus on the skin, and to remove warts.1

Clinical Studies:

A study assessed whether a methanol extract isolated from the greater celandine Chelidonium majus L. (CME) had antioxidant effect and was able to inhibit proliferation and to induce apoptosis in leukemia cells in vitro.

The potential antioxidant activity of CME was proved by the DPPH radical scavenging assay. The cytotoxicity of CME was measured by the cell growth inhibition assay using murine leukemia L1210 cell line and human promyelocytic HL-60 leukemia cells. Apoptosis-inducing effect was determined by fluorescence microscopy.

In the DPPH assay CME acted as a scavenger of DPPH free radical. The results on antiproliferative properties assessment clearly demonstrated that CME had a cytotoxic effect towards both leukemia cell lines in a dose-dependent manner. In addition, the human promyelocytic HL-60 cells were more sensitive to CME treatment than the L1210 cells.

It was concluded that the extract of C. majus L. had a strong antioxidant potential and exerted the antiproliferative activity via apoptosis on leukemia cells. CME due to the presence of the isoquinoline alkaloids and the flavonoid components may play an important role in both cancer chemoprevention through its antioxidant activity and modern cancer chemotherapy as cytotoxic and apoptosis-inducing agent.

A review summarized the preliminary results of two independent clinical trials conducted with the preparation “Ukrain”, containing thiophosphoric acid alkaloid derivatives from the plant Chelidonium majus L., in order to investigate whether it has immunopotentiating properties in cancer patients.

A total of twenty-seven patients with various malignancies were treated with “Ukrain” given intravenously in a dose of 10 mg every three days. In all patients the cellular and humoral immune response was studied. 

There was an increase in both total T-cells and T-helper lymphocytes, a decrease in T-suppressor cells, and normalization of the helper/suppressor (HIS) ratio.

A significant increase in erythrocyte-rosette-forming T-cells and NK cells was also demonstrated. Restoration of cellular immunity was accompanied by an improvement in the patients’ performance status and in the clinical course of the disease.

The treatment was generally well tolerated. The present study shows that some therapeutic benefit from the use of Chelidonium majus (“Ukrain”) as an immunostimulant in cancer patients can be achieved.


Nadova S, Miadokova E, Alfoldiova , Kapaskova M, Hasplova K, Hudecova A, Vaculcikova D, Gregan F, Cipak L. “Potential Antioxidant Activity, Cytotoxic And Apoptosis-Inducing Effects Of Chellidonium Magum L. Extracts On Leukemia Cells.” 2008 October.

Nowicky JW, Staniszewski A, Zbroja-Sontag W, Slesak B, Nowicky W, Hiesmayr W. “Evaluation Of Thiophosphoric Acid Alkaloid Derivatives From Chelidonium Magum L. (“Ukrain”) As An Immunostimulant In Patients With Various Carcinoma.” 1991