Lesser celandine (Ranunculus ficaria)

While some complementary and alternative techniques have been studied scientifically, high-quality data regarding safety, effectiveness, and mechanism of action are limited or controversial for most therapies. Whenever possible, it is recommended that practitioners be licensed by a recognized professional organization that adheres to clearly published standards. In addition, before starting a new technique or engaging a practitioner, it is recommended that patients speak with their primary healthcare provider(s). Potential benefits, risks (including financial costs), and alternatives should be carefully considered. The below monograph is designed to provide historical background and an overview of clinically-oriented research, and neither advocates for or against the use of a particular therapy.

Related Terms

  • Fig buttercup, pilewort, Ranunculaceae (family), Ranunculus ficaria, scurvywort, woodland buttercup.

Background

  • Lesser celandine (Ranunculus ficaria) is a perennial herbaceous meadow plant in the buttercup family that is found in Europe, Asia, Canada, and the northeastern and northwestern parts of the United States, where it is considered an invasive species. Lesser celandine is not to be confused with greater celandine (Chelidonium majus), a member of the Papaveraceae family.

  • According to herbal textbooks and tradition, lesser celandine has astringent properties and has been used to treat inflammatory conditions. Lesser celandine was once known as “pilewort” and has been used to treat hemorrhoids. It is also known as “scurvywort,” because its leaves have been used as a source of vitamin C. Scurvy is a condition that results from vitamin C deficiency.

  • There is currently a lack of high-quality clinical trials available investigating lesser celandine for any medical condition.

  • It has been reported that all parts of the lesser celandine plant are poisonous.

Scientific Evidence

Uses

These uses have been tested in humans or animals. Safety and effectiveness have not always been proven. Some of these conditions are potentially serious, and should be evaluated by a qualified healthcare provider.

No available studies qualify for inclusion in the evidence table.

*Key to grades:

Tradition

The below uses are based on tradition or scientific theories. They often have not been thoroughly tested in humans, and safety and effectiveness have not always been proven. Some of these conditions are potentially serious and should be evaluated by a qualified health care professional.

  • Astringent, anti-inflammatory, dental hygiene (tooth cleaner), heartburn/poor appetite, hemorrhoids, liver and gallbladder tonic, scurvy, ulcers.

Dosing

The below doses are based on scientific research, publications, traditional use, or expert opinion. Many herbs and supplements have not been thoroughly tested, and safety and effectiveness may not be proven. Brands may be made differently, with variable ingredients, even within the same brand. The below doses may not apply to all products. You should read product labels, and discuss doses with a qualified healthcare provider before starting therapy.

Adults (18 years and older)

  • There is no proven safe or effective dose for lesser celandine in adults.

Children (under 18 years old)

  • There is no proven safe or effective dose for lesser celandine in children.

Safety

The U.S. Food and Drug Administration does not strictly regulate herbs and supplements. There is no guarantee of strength, purity or safety of products, and effects may vary. You should always read product labels. If you have a medical condition, or are taking other drugs, herbs, or supplements, you should speak with a qualified healthcare provider before starting a new therapy. Consult a healthcare provider immediately if you experience side effects.

Allergies

  • Avoid in people with known allergy or hypersensitivity to lesser celandine or any of its constituents or members of the Ranunculaceae family.

Side Effects and Warnings

  • It has been reported that all parts of the lesser celandine plant are poisonous.

  • Lesser celandine may cause hepatitis or liver damage. Avoid in patients with poor liver function.

  • Avoid in people with known allergy or hypersensitivity to lesser celandine, any of its constituents, or members of the Ranunculaceae family.

  • Avoid in pregnant or breastfeeding women, due to a lack of available scientific evidence.

Pregnancy and Breastfeeding

  • Avoid in pregnant or breastfeeding women, due to a lack of available scientific evidence.

Interactions

Most herbs and supplements have not been thoroughly tested for interactions with other herbs, supplements, drugs, or foods. The interactions listed below are based on reports in scientific publications, laboratory experiments, or traditional use. You should always read product labels. If you have a medical condition, or are taking other drugs, herbs, or supplements, you should speak with a qualified healthcare provider before starting a new therapy.

Interactions with Drugs

  • Lesser celandine may interact with drugs that may damage the liver.

Interactions with Herbs and Dietary Supplements

  • Lesser celandine may interact with herbs and supplements that may damage the liver.

Author Information

  • This information is based on a systematic review of scientific literature edited and peer-reviewed by contributors to the Natural Standard Research Collaboration (www.naturalstandard.com).

References

Natural Standard developed the above evidence-based information based on a thorough systematic review of the available scientific articles. For comprehensive information about alternative and complementary therapies on the professional level, go to www.naturalstandard.com. Selected references are listed below.

  1. Cooley NM, Holmes MG, Attridge TH. Growth and stomatal responses of temperate meadow species to enhanced levels of UV-A and UV-B+A radiation in the natural environment. J Photochem Photobiol B 2000;57(2-3):179-85. View Abstract
  2. Strahl S, Ehret V, Dahm HH, et al. [Necrotizing hepatitis after taking herbal remedies]. Dtsch Med Wochenschr 1998;123(47):1410-4. View Abstract

The information in this monograph is intended for informational purposes only, and is meant to help users better understand health concerns. Information is based on review of scientific research data, historical practice patterns, and clinical experience. This information should not be interpreted as specific medical advice. Users should consult with a qualified healthcare provider for specific questions regarding therapies, diagnosis and/or health conditions, prior to making therapeutic decisions.