Chelidonine is the major alkaloid component of Chelidonium majus. Chelidonium majus L. is the only species of the tribe Chelidonieae of the family Papaveraceae. Papaveraceae is rich in specific alkaloids. C. majus contains various isoquinoline alkaloids with protopine, protoberberine and benzophenanthridine structures. This benzophenanthridine alkaloid can induce apoptosis in some transformed or malignant cell lines.
D-Chelidonine, the main alkaloid of Chelidonium majus, was first isolated in 1839. The supposed healing properties of greater celandine (Chelidonium majus) were believed in throughout Europe and Asia during the Emperial Roman period (Pliny 1966), and New World aboriginal cultures used BIA-containing plants by using sap or root extracts to treat minor cuts and infections.