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Corydalis spp.

Corydalis spp.


No documentation

Vernacular Name

Corydalis, Yanhusuo


Corydalis yanhusuo is a member of the Poppy family, is closely related to the Opium Poppy. In traditional Chinese medicine, Corydalis is said to invigorate the blood, move qi or energy traveling through the body, and decrease pain, especially with menstrual cramps, abdominal cramping, and hernias.

There are over 400 different Corydalis species. This perennial plant is a low growing plant that produces small trumpet-like flowers that vary in color from white to pink to blue, depending upon the species. The leaf shapes vary by species as does the height of growth.

Origin / Habitat

Corydalis is thought to be native to areas such as China and Japan. The plant can survive in harsh climates including snow and freezing temperatures. It is commonly found in woodlands.

Chemical Constituents

Alkaloids including cordalines, tetrahydropalmatine (THP) and protapine.[1]

Plant Part Used


Traditional Use



Dosage Range

Dried tuber: 5-10gm daily.

Standardized dose: 20-100mg daily of a standardized extracts.

Most Common Dosage

7g dried herb daily

Standardization Dosage

80% tetrahydropalmatine (THP)



Part of Corydalis’ pain relieving effects may be due to its anti-inflammatory activity, as reported in laboratory animal studies.[2]

Corydalis has been reported in laboratory animal studies to be a dopamine agonist, binding predominantly at the dopamine D(1) receptor.[3] Corydalis is used in nervousness induced insomnia, agitation and/or anxiety, in part due to isoquinoline alkaloids derived from tyrosine metabolism which influence the neurotransmitter metabolism.[4],[5] Extracts from Corydalis have been reported in a laboratory study to enhance the chemical oxidation of adrenaline and the synthesis of melanine from dihydroxyphenylalanine (DOPA).[6]

Corydalis has also been reported in laboratory studies to have antitumor activity, inhibiting the metastasis of cancer cells in vitro through the activation of p38 and inhibition of ERK1/2 and SAPK/JNK mitogen-activated protein kinase (MAPK) signaling.[7],[8]

Corydalis also has cardioprotective activity as reported in laboratory studies.[9] Laboratory studies have found that corydalis extracts significantly improved heart function and prevented cardiac hypertrophy, with parallel reductions in myocardial fibrosis in rats.[10],[11],[12]

A laboratory study found that use of corydalis inhibited antibody-mediated allergic reactions and also influenced cell-mediated allergia reactions.[13]

One laboratory study found that corydalis administration in rats with diabetic induced cataracts inhibited aldose reductase.[14]


Pain relieving effects of corydalis extracts have been reported in laboratory human studies. A small clinical study found that a single oral dose of corydalis decreased pain intensity and pain bothersomeness scores significantly decreased, with dose-related analgesic effects also observed.[15]

One double-blind, placebo-controlled human study from China found that tetrahydropalmatine (THP) was superior to conventional drug therapy for treatment of supraventricular arrhythmia.[16]

Interaction and Depletions

Interaction with other Herbs

No documentation

Interaction with Drugs

Based on pharmacology, use with caution in individuals taking opiate medications for pain.

Precautions and Contraindications

Side effects

Discontinue if allergy occurs.

Corydalis has been used for decades in China, but evidence suggests hepatotoxicity may occur in some individuals.[17] Use this herb with extreme caution, especially in hepatically compromised individuals.


No documentation

Age limitation

No documentation

Adverse reaction

No documentation


  1. Hu T, Zhang X, Ma S, Cheng Y, Yao X. [Chemical constituents from Corydalis yanhusuo]. Zhongguo Zhong Yao Za Zhi. Aug 2009;34(15):1917-1920.
  2. Kubo M, Matsuda H, Tokuoka K, Ma S, Shiomoto H. Anti-inflammatory activities of methanolic extract and alkaloidal components from Corydalis tuber. Biol Pharm Bull. Feb 1994;17(2):262-265.
  3. Ma ZZ, Xu W, Jensen NH, Roth BL, Liu-Chen LY, Lee DY. Isoquinoline alkaloids isolated from Corydalis yanhusuo and their binding affinities at the dopamine D1 receptor. Molecules. 25 Sep 2008;13(9):2303-2312.
  4. Schäfer HL, Schäfer H, Schneider W, Elstner EF. Sedative action of extract combinations of Eschscholtzia californica and Corydalis cava. Arzneimittelforschung. Feb 1995;45(2):124-126.
  5. Reimeier C, Schneider I, Schneider W, Schäfer HL, Elstner EF. Effects of ethanolic extracts from Eschscholtzia californica and Corydalis cava on dimerization and oxidation of enkephalins. Arzneimittelforschung. Feb 1995;45(2):132-136.
  6. Kleber E, Schneider W, Schäfer HL, Elstner EF. Modulation of key reactions of the catecholamine metabolism by extracts from Eschscholtzia californica and Corydalis cava. Arzneimittelforschung. Feb 1995;45(2):127-131.
  7. Gao JL, Shi JM, He K, Zhang QW, Li SP, Lee SM, Wang YT. Yanhusuo extract inhibits metastasis of breast cancer cells by modulating mitogen-activated protein kinase signaling pathways. Oncol Rep. Oct 2008;20(4):819-824.
  8. Kim YA, Kong CS, Yea SS, Seo Y. Constituents of Corydalis heterocarpa and their anti-proliferative effects on human cancer cells. Food Chem Toxicol. 21 Dec 2009. [Epub ahead of print]
  9. Cheng XY, Shi Y, Zheng SL, Sun H, Jin W. [Studies on chemical constituents in the anti-myocardial ischemia effective fraction of Corydalis yanhusuo].  Zhong Yao Cai. Nov 2008;31(11):1656-1658.
  10. Wen C, Wu L, Ling H, Li L. Salutary effects of Corydalis yanhusuo extract on cardiac hypertrophy due to pressure overload in rats. J Pharm Pharmacol. Aug 2007;59(8):1159-1165.
  11. Wu L, Ling H, Li L, Jiang L, He M. Beneficial effects of the extract from Corydalis yanhusuo in rats with heart failure following myocardial infarction. J Pharm Pharmacol. May 2007;59(5):695-701.
  12. Ling H, Wu L, Li L. Corydalis yanhusuo rhizoma extract reduces infarct size and improves heart function during myocardial ischemia/reperfusion by inhibiting apoptosis in rats. Phytother Res. Jun 2006;20(6):448-453.
  13. Matsuda H, Tokuoka K, Wu J, Shiomoto H, Kubo M. Inhibitory effects of dehydrocorydaline isolated from Corydalis Tuber against type I-IV allergic models. Biol Pharm Bull. Apr 1997;20(4):431-434.
  14. Kubo M, Matsuda H, Tokuoka K, Kobayashi Y, Ma S, Tanaka T. Studies of anti-cataract drugs from natural sources. I. Effects of a methanolic extract and the alkaloidal components from Corydalis tuber on in vitro aldose reductase activity. Biol Pharm Bull. Mar 1994;17(3):458-459.
  15. Yuan CS, Mehendale SR, Wang CZ, et al. Effects of Corydalis yanhusuo and Angelicae dahuricae on cold pressor-induced pain in humans: a controlled trial. J Clin Pharmacol. Nov 2004;44(11):1323-1327.
  16. Xiaolin N, Zhenhua H, Xin M, et al. Clinical and experimental study of dl-tetrahydropalmatine effect in the treatment of supraventricular arrhythmia. J Xi’An Med Univ. 1998;10:150–153.
  17. Dharmananda S. Jin Bu Huan, corydalis and tetrahydropalmatine: A review prepared for the Rocky Mountain Poison and Drug Center. Institute for Traditional Medicine. 1993; 1-8.

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