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Eur Rev Med Pharmacol Sci. 2017 Mar;21(1 Suppl):46-52.

Hepatotoxicity induced by greater celandine (Chelidonium majus L.): a review of the literature.

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Unit of Forensic Toxicology (UoFT), Department of Anatomical, Histological, Forensic and Orthopedic Sciences, Sapienza University of Rome, Rome, Italy.


The available literature assessing Chelidonium majus L. (CM) hepatotoxicity potential, and its risk to benefit assessment has been reviewed in this paper. Identification of significant scientific literature was performed via the following research databases: Cochrane Central, Google Scholar, EMBASE, Medline, Science Direct, Scopus, Web of Science, using the following keywords: "Chelidonium majus", "greater celandine", "Hepatotoxicity", "Liver" "Injury", "Toxicity" individually investigated and then again in association. CM named also greater celandine, swallow-wort, or bai-qu-cai (Chinese), has been used for a long time in traditional Chinese medicine and phytotherapy. Its extracts have been claimed to display a wide variety of biological activities: antimicrobial, anti-inflammatory, spasmolytic, antineoplastic, hepatoprotective, and analgesic. Moreover, herbal medicine suggests this plant have numerous additional effects which have not yet been scientifically evaluated, such as antitussive, diuretic, and eye-regenerative. However, despite its claimed hepatoprotective effects, several hepatotoxicity cases have been reported to be probably or highly probably connected with CM exposure, after their evaluation through liver-targeted causality assessment methods. CM hepatotoxicity has been defined as a distinct form of herb-induced liver injury (HILI), due to an idiosyncratic reaction of the metabolic type. This evidence has to be considered in relationship with the absence of considerable benefits of CM therapy. Therefore, the risk to benefit ratio of the use of herbal products containing greater celandine can actually be considered as negative.

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