This section of the book is from "The Complete Herbalist" by Dr. O. Phelps Brown. Also available from Amazon: The Complete Herbalist: The People Their Own Physicians By The Use Of Nature's Remedies.
COMMON NAME. Tetter Wort.
MEDICINAL PARTS. Herb and root.
Description. -- This plant is an evergreen perennial, with a stem from one to two feet in height, branched, swelled at the joints, leafy, round, and smooth; the leaves are smooth, spreading, very deeply pinnatified; leaflets in from two to four pairs, from one and half to two and a half inches long, and about two-thirds as broad, the terminal one largest, all ovate, cuneately incised or lobed; the lateral ones sometimes dilated at the lower margin, near the base almost as if auricled; color of all, a deep shining green; the flowers are bright yellow, umbellate, on long, often hairy stocks.
History. -- Celandine is a pale green, fleshy herb, indigenous to Europe and naturalized in the United States; it grows along fences, by roads, in waste places, etc., and flowers from May to October. If the plant be wounded, a bright yellow, offensive juice flows out, which has a persistent, nauseous, bitter taste, with a biting sensation in the mouth and fauces. The root is the most intensely bitter part of the plant, and is more commonly preferred. Drying diminishes its activity. It yields its virtues to alcohol or water.
Properties and Uses. -- It is stimulant, acrid, alterative, diuretic, diaphoretic, purgative, and vulnerary. It is used internally in decoction or tincture, and externally in poultice or ointment for scrofula, cutaneous diseases, and piles. It is likewise good in hepatic affections, or liver complaints, and exerts a special influence on the spleen. As a drastic hydragogue, or purge, it is fully equal to gamboge. The juice, when applied to the skin, produces inflammations, and even vesications. It has long been known as a caustic for the removal of warts; it is also applied to indolent ulcers, fungous growths, etc., and is useful in removing specks and opacities of the cornea of the eye.
Celandine is from the Greek word Chelidon, which signifies a swallow. The ancients assert that if you put out the eyes of young swallows when they are in the nest, the old ones will restore their eyes again with this herb. It is said that we may mar the apple of the bird's eye with a needle, and that the old birds will restore their sight again by means of this herb. Never having made any such cruel experiments, I am not prepared to say whether any such miraculous power of healing loss of sight is a virtue of the plant, or whether it is an instinct or gift inherent of the swallow itself.
Celandine is also used in curing salt-rheum, tetter, or ringworm. It is superior to arnica as a vulnerary; an alcoholic tincture of the root (three ounces to a pint) will be found an unrivaled application to prevent or subdue traumatic inflammations.
Dose.--Of the powdered root, from half a drachm to one drachm; of the fresh juice, from twenty to forty drops, in some bland liquid; of the tincture, from one to two fluid drachms; of the aqueous extract, from five to ten grains.