Herbal Remedies for Warts: Herbs to the Rescue

Stop warts with these natural remedies

| May/June 1999

Celandine (Chelidonium majus) is a member of the poppy family (Papaveraceae) native to Europe and naturalized in North America, where it grows on moist roadsides and forest edges. The sixteenth edition of The Dispensatory of the United States of America (1889) describes celan­dine’s medicinal attributes: “The yellow juice is often applied to corns and warts, which it destroys by stimulating them beyond their vital powers, and is said to be very useful in eczema, urticaria, and other itching complaints.”

In the past three decades, researchers have found that extracts of celandine fight viruses, tumors, bacteria, fungi, and inflammation. In 1996, scientists at Palacky University in Olomouc, Czech Republic, and the University of Regensburg in Germany found that an extract of celandine inhibits epidermal cell growth in humans. These researchers credited two specific alkaloids, sanguinarine and chelerythrine, with the inhibitory action. These alkaloids, along with berberine, interact with DNA, which may explain how all three alkaloids also fight tumors. However, despite the strong history of celandine’s effectiveness as a wart remedy, double-blind studies are needed to further substantiate this use.

At least twenty different alkaloids have been isolated from celandine’s bright ­orange-yellow sap, which is present in both the roots and aboveground parts. A study by University of Zagreb researchers in 1982 showed that the total concentration of alkaloids is lowest at blossoming, then reaches its highest concentration in summer. Researchers thus recommended harvesting from early August to late October.

Extracts of celandine may also prevent certain forms of cancer. In 1997, researchers in Japan and South Korea found that an extract of celandine inhibits glandular stomach cancer in rats. However, ingesting any raw form of celandine is not advised; at least one case of haemolytic anemia has been reported, and extracts are slightly toxic to developing embryos.

Bloodroot (Sanguinaria canadensis), also known as red Indian paint, red puccoon, redroot, coonroot, and pauson, is, like celandine, a member of the Papaveraceae, or poppy family. It grows on cool, well-shaded, and well-drained forest slopes of the Piedmont of eastern North America. As anyone who has picked the flowers knows, the sap is rust-red and stains hands and clothing. And, also like celandine, the colored sap is rich in alkaloids, particularly sanguinarine and chelerythrine.

Bloodroot has a long history of use by Native American tribes, who used it to dye clothing, stain their faces and bodies, repel insects, cure rheumatism and sore throats, and even aid in divination during religious ceremonies. European settlers quickly adopted this versatile plant and used it as an expectorant, emetic, and, not surprisingly, to remove warts and cure nasal polyps. In 1857, J. W. Fell cited a bloodroot-based cure for skin cancer that he had learned from Indian traders along the shores of Lake Superior (noted in his A Treatise on Cancer, published in London).



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