The medicinal power of celandine

Celandine is a plant growing low to the ground that blooms in the spring. The young leaves of celandine can be eaten in a side salad before flowering. You can blanch young celandine leaves like spinach to eat them as a side vegetable. When the plant blooms, there is too much protoanemonin in the leaves to eat. That’s a toxin. The roots are perfectly edible; you have to cook them for a while. However, you should not eat too much of this because of the toxins it contains. Furthermore, the flower buds are pickled to eat them like capers. Celandine grows throughout Europe and large parts of Asia, from the Atlantic coast to Western Siberia. Furthermore, celandine occurs naturally in the Middle East and North Africa. The plant has been successfully introduced in Canada and the United States. NB! This article is written from the personal view of the author and may contain information that is not scientifically substantiated and/or in line with the general view.

Botanical drawing of celandine / Source: Johann Georg Sturm (Painter: Jacob Sturm), Wikimedia Commons (Public domain)


  • Traditional use
  • Naming
  • Active substances
  • Celandine for vein swelling
  • Celandine in the garden
  • Dose and safety
  • Visit a doctor or herbal therapist

Traditional use

The most important use of celandine in folk medicine is against hemorrhoids. The roots of celandine are somewhat shaped like hemorrhoids. According to the signature theory, this characterizes the effect of the plant against this disease. The leaves of celandine contain a large amount of vitamin C and were previously used to treat scurvy. From the 16th to the 19th century it was taken on long sea voyages where there was always a shortage of fresh fruit and vegetables and therefore vitamin C. When the older leaves are dried, a toxic substance is created; From the powder of this, a poison was previously made in the European Alps that was smeared on arrows.


In Latin, celandine is called Ranunculus ficaria . Alternative names in Dutch are: Lesser celandine, Klierkruid, Pacifier thistle, Figwort, Small swallowwort, Oaneklootjes, Kattenklootjes and Klein celidonie. Pacifier is the old name for hemorrhoids. This plant was mainly used for hemorrhoids. The plant is called fig root because ficaria is the Latin name for fig. In German, the plant is called Scharbockkraut, or scurvy, because it was used against this disease. In English the plant is called Lesser Celandine. Celandine is the Greater Celandine. The plants do not look much alike except that the flower color of both is yellow and that they are both medicinal plants.

Active substances

Celandine is mainly used for phytotherapeutic purposes, the root and sometimes the herb. The root contains the following active substances: triterpene saponins such as the glycosides of hederagenin and oleanolic acid, protoanemonin, anemonin, tannins, vitamin C, traces of essential oil.

Celandine is not a widely applicable herb. Moreover, there are alternative medicine plants that have fewer side effects.

Celandine for vein swelling

Celandine reduces congestion or swelling of the blood vessels. In addition, it has an analgesic effect. It is used both externally in the form of ointments and internally, for example by drinking tea from the root.

Celandine as a ground cover in a forest. / Source: Ellywa, Wikimedia Commons (CC BY-SA-3.0)

  • Venous insufficiency,
  • Hemorrhoids,
  • Varicose veins.

Celandine in the garden

Celandine can grow nicely in your garden. Don’t worry about that; you can eat it in the spring. It is a beautiful, flowering plant that fits perfectly in a wild garden. It does well in both the shade and the sun. It is a greedy plant; it ensures that it takes nutrients from other plants. For example, beans grow less well next to celandine.

Dose and safety

There are a number of ways to use this medicinal plant.

  • Liquid extract: 20 to 50 drops per day
  • Alcohol: 20 to 50 drops per day.
  • Decoction: two to three cups, use 5% of the decoction per cup of tea.

External use is in the form of an ointment. Use 10% of the liquid extract in an ointment. Protoanemonin is a substance that can irritate the skin and mucous membranes. That is why a herbalist will recommend a medicinal plant that has fewer or no side effects and has the same medicinal effect, such as: American witch hazel, white horse chestnut and prickly mouse broom.

Visit a doctor or herbal therapist

Much of the information about the medicinal plant mentioned in this article comes from the book Groot Handboek Medicinal Plants by Geert Verhelst. That is a handbook in phytotherapy. However, it is not suitable for self-healing. Anyone who suffers from something should consult a doctor or herbal therapist for a good diagnosis and choice of the best remedies, tailored to your personal situation. The knowledge and science mentioned here is of a purely informative nature.