This section is from the book "A Text-Book Of Pharmacology, Therapeutics And Materia Medica", by T. Lauder Brunton. Also available from Amazon: A text-book of pharmacology, therapeutics and materia medica.
Characters. - Root several-headed, branching, red-brown; stem about twenty inches (50 centimetres) long, light green, hairy; leaves about six inches (15 centimetres) long, petiolate, the upper ones smaller and sessile, light green, on the lower side glaucous, lyrate-pinnatifid, the pinnae ovate-oblong, obtuse, coarsely crenate or incised, and the terminal one often three-lobed; flowers in small, long-peduncled umbels with two sepals and four yellow petals; capsule linear, two-valved and many-seeded. The fresh plant contains a saffron-coloured milk-juice and has an unpleasant odour and acrid taste.
Dose. - 10 to 30 gr.
Composition. - It contains two alkaloids - chelidonine and chelerythrine - the latter being supposed to be identical with sanguinarine.
Action. - Chelerythrine, however, as obtained from chelidonium, has no tetanising action, but produces paralysis and loss of reflex action (Schroff, jun.). Chelidonine has a bitter, acrid taste, but appears to have little physiological action.
Uses. - Externally the fresh juice acts as a local irritant, and is used to destroy corns or warts, and to lessen itching in skin diseases. When given internally in large doses it excites violent purging. It was formerly much used in jaundice. It appears to act as a bitter tonic and alterative, and is employed in phthisis and scrofula.