2. The Diseases of the Liver

Chelidonium is the only plant, indigenous to this country, which possesses a yellow juice. That the colour of this juice led to its use in liver diseases on the lines of the doctrine of Signatures….

Jaundice, Gall-stones, Enlargements, Tumours, and Cancer, and their Treatment.


IF anyone shall maintain that Jaundice is not a greater disease of the liver, but a minor one, I shall reply, Then such a one has never had the curious complaint. Jaundice was the indirect efforts at independent thought in medicine; it was in this wise:- A student was working with Professor H with the microscope while he had a bad cold in his head-in the hot trickling dewdrop stage-and finding that microscopizing under the circumstances was not an easy matter, he said to his professorial friend, “What’s good for a cold in the head?”

“Oh,” said he, “sniff up cold water into your nostrils- that’ll cure it quickly.”

Studiosus set his microscope aside; went home. Once there, forthwith sniffed cold water most diligently into his nostrils, and cured the said coryza there and then. A sweet cure! as the sequel shewed.

The next day he had the beginning symptoms of catarrhal jaundice, and in two days the affection was well-established.

Professor H. was again consulted, and said he must give up hospital work at once, and take a holiday in the hills.

Being conversant with all the facts of the case, it occured to me that as catarrhal jaundice was due to a catarrh of the gall-ducts, just as the coryza was a catarrh of the nose, so if we could only get at the gall-ducts as readily as at the nostrils, we might wash them out also, and thus cure the jaundice, as the coryza had been cured.

I have had a certain number of colds in the head to treat during the years that have since elapsed, but I have never recommended Professor H.’s plan of sniffing cold water into the nostrils, believing a catarrh of the nose to be less bad than a corresponding state of the gall-ducts. This simple narration really touches at the very foundations of all curing : The young man was not well; nature sought to rid his organism of something harmful to his organismic self; she set up a watery discharge from a small portion of the mucous lining of the body, near the surface and not otherwise too much functionally occupied. This hot running from the nose was really a curative expression of the organism. (The young man had been long living and working in the most foul atmosphere of dissecting rooms and hospital wards). The cold water stopped it (the flux, not the disease,) and then nature fell back upon the liver, as she so often does.

Centrifugal fluxes and discharges should not be lightly stopped.

Why the flux? Whence the discharge? Let the questions of the why? and whence? be answered as we go along. Here I merely insist upon the elementary truth that a morbid process having a, perhaps, time-honored name, may be nevertheless no disease at all, but merely a means of cure set up by nature herself, and that there are diseases which it is disadvantageous or dangerous to cure, that is to cure in the sense in which the verb to cure is commonly used in English by the thoughtless. Of course to effect a really radical cure of any primary disease can never be other than a gain to the individual.


CURED BY Chelidonium majus.

A good many years since I was summoned to see a country gentleman for sudden indisposition. It was a rather tedious railway journey, and a humble friend of the family, anxious to enlighten me, told me that the squire had the “Yeller Janders.” Yellow the patient was, indeed, and the colour was from jaundice! There were the usual symptoms- constipation, scanty urine of a dark yellow browny colour, and debility with depression of spirits. Chelidonium majus in small material doses, put matters right in a few days, leaving the patient, however, weak.

“What medicine have you been giving my husband?”

“A new remedy.”

“What’s it’s name.”

“Chelidonium majus.”

“What’s the English of that?”

“The greater Celandine.”

“Then it is not by any means a new remedy, for it is in my old Herbal, in which it is recommended for jaundice.”

And so it was: the use of the greater Celandine in jaundice has trickled down to us through the ages from the primary source of the doctrine of signatures.

Of Chelidonium majus, I would say that it is in this country the greatest liver medicine we have and there is, in all conscience, no lack of hepatics. Some of my early success in practice was due to my use of Chelidonium.

It came about thus: I went to see and important lady for a well-known physician in the north, he being too busy to attend, but said lady strongly objected to new doctors. She took a look at me- as I subsequently learned- from a position where she herself was invisible to me, and did not like the look of me. So I was sent away with many apologies from the daughter. Her hepatalgia was easier just at that moment; she would wait till her own physician would come.

James Compton Burnett
James Compton Burnett was born on July 10, 1840 and died April 2, 1901. Dr. Burnett attended medical school in Vienna, Austria in 1865. Alfred Hawkes converted him to homeopathy in 1872 (in Glasgow). In 1876 he took his MD degree.
Burnett was one of the first to speak about vaccination triggering illness. This was discussed in his book, Vaccinosis, published in 1884. He introduced the remedy Bacillinum. He authored twenty books, including the much loved "Fifty Reason for Being a Homeopath." He was the editor of The Homoeopathic World.