Greater Celandine for Cancer Defense?

greater celandine (chelidonium majus)
Greater celandine (Chelidonium majus). Sunniva Harte/Photolibrary/Getty Images

Greater celandine (Chelidonium majus) is a plant long used in traditional Chinese medicine (a form of alternative medicine that originated in China). Often touted as a natural treatment for cancer, greater celandine is also purported to fight health concerns ranging from asthma to atherosclerosis.

Although research suggests that greater celandine may offer certain benefits, there's also some evidence that it might be toxic to the liver.

Uses for Greater Celandine

In alternative medicine, greater celandine is said to boost the immune system and is touted as a natural remedy for a number of health conditions, including:

In addition, greater celandine is said to relieve pain, promote detox, stimulate the immune system, and fight cancer.

Widely available for purchase online, greater celandine is sold in many natural-food stores and in stores specializing in dietary supplements.

Benefits of Greater Celandine

To date, research on the health effects of greater celandine is fairly limited. However, there's some evidence that greater celandine may offer certain benefits. Here's a look at some key study findings:

1) Cancer

In laboratory tests on human cancer cells, scientists have found that greater celandine may fight cancer by inducing apoptosis (a type of programmed cell death involved in stopping the spread of cancer cells).

A greater celandine extract shows potential as an anti-cancer drug, according to a research review published in BMC Cancer in 2005. For the review, investigators analyzed seven clinical trials on the use of a proprietary greater celandine extract in the treatment of cancer.

Although the review's authors found that the extract had beneficial effects on several types of cancer, they caution that most of the trials were of poor quality and state that "independent rigorous studies are urgently needed" before greater celandine can be recommended in the treatment of cancer.

2) Eczema

Preliminary research indicates that greater celandine may help treat atopic dermatitis (a form of eczema). In a 2011 study published in the Journal of Ethnopharmacology, for instance, researchers tested the effects of greater celandine on a group of mice with atopic dermatitis.

Results revealed that greater celandine significantly reduced the severity of several eczema symptoms, including itching and inflammation. However, it's unknown whether greater celandine might have the same effect on eczema in humans.

Possible Side Effects

Little is known about the safety of long-term or regular use of greater celandine and how it might interact with medication. Greater celandine may trigger a number of side effects, including nausea, dizziness, fatigue, and fever.

There's concern that greater celandine may harm liver health. In a report published in the Journal of Ethnopharmacology in 2009, for instance, scientists warn that several cases of acute hepatitis have been linked to greater celandine consumption in previously published studies.

There is also some evidence that greater celandine could have serious adverse effects on the heart, raising the risk of ventricular arrhythmias.

Given the safety concerns, it's critical to consult your healthcare provider prior to using greater celandine (especially if you have a history of liver problems). It's important to note that self-treating a chronic condition with greater celandine and avoiding or delaying standard care may have serious health consequences.

Using Greater Celandine for Health

Due to a lack of high-quality clinical trials and serious safety concerns, greater celandine cannot currently be recommended for treatment or prevention of any health problem (including cancer). 


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Disclaimer: The information contained on this site is intended for educational purposes only and is not a substitute for advice, diagnosis or treatment by a licensed physician. It is not meant to cover all possible precautions, drug interactions, circumstances or adverse effects. You should seek prompt medical care for any health issues and consult your doctor before using alternative medicine or making a change to your regimen.

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