What You Need to Know About Corydalis

corydalis root
corydalis root. Ottmar Diez/StockFood Creative/Getty Images

Corydalis is an herb long used in traditional Chinese medicine (a form of alternative medicine that originated in China). Often sourced from the root of the plant, corydalis extract is available in dietary supplement form. It's thought that taking corydalis supplements can help treat certain health conditions, as well as reduce pain.

Corydalis yanhusuo is one of the most common types of corydalis used in herbal medicine.

Uses for Corydalis

In alternative medicine, corydalis is said to aid in the treatment of the following health problems:

Additionally, corydalis is thought to have sedative and anti-inflammatory effects. Some proponents also suggest that it can help fight cancer.

In traditional Chinese medicine, corydalis is sometimes used to enhance heart health and treat cardiovascular problems, including heart failure.

Benefits of Corydalis

While clinical trials testing the health effects of corydalis are currently lacking, some preliminary research shows that the herb may offer certain benefits. Here, several key findings on the potential health benefits of taking corydalis:

1)  Pain

Corydalis may help relieve neuropathic pain, according to a number of studies on rats. A type of pain associated with nerve damage, neuropathic pain is often experienced by people with diabetes.

2)  Anxiety

In a rat-based study published in the American Association of Nurse Anesthetists Journal in 2011, tests on rats demonstrated that tetrahydropalmatine (a compound found in Corydalis yanhusuo) may have anxiety-reducing effects.

3)  Heart Health

A preliminary study published in the Journal of Pharmacy and Pharmacology in 2007 indicates that Corydalis yanhusuo may help protect against heart failure following a heart attack.

In tests on rats, scientists observed that Corydalis yanhusuo may help improve cardiac function.

4)  Cancer

A combination of Corydalis yanhusuo and turmeric may have anti-cancer benefits, according to a study published in Oncology Reports in 2009. Although tests on cells determined that the combination of Corydalis yanhusuo and turmeric may help inhibit the growth and spread of cancer, more research is needed before Corydalis yanhusuo can be recommended for cancer prevention or treatment.


Due to a lack of research in humans, little is known about the safety of taking corydalis supplements. However, there's some concern that corydalis may cause a number of side effects, including muscle spasms.

Keep in mind that supplements haven't been tested for safety and dietary supplements are largely unregulated. In some cases, the product may deliver doses that differ from the specified amount for each herb. In other cases, the product may be contaminated with other substances such as metals.

 Also, the safety of supplements in pregnant women, nursing mothers, children, and those with medical conditions or who are taking medications has not been established. You can get further tips on using supplements here.

Alternatives to Corydalis

A number of natural remedies may help alleviate pain and act as an alternative to corydalis. For example, herbs like white willow bark may soothe low back pain, while such herbs as ginger and devil's claw may ease the pain of arthritis.

Since pain is often closely linked to inflammation, following an anti-inflammatory diet might also be beneficial in managing chronic pain. What's more, research shows that mind-body techniques like meditation and guided imagery may be helpful for people with pain problems.

There's also some evidence that alternative therapies such as massage and acupuncture may help reduce pain caused by conditions such as migraine.

Where to Find It

Sold in many natural-food stores and stores specializing in herbal products, corydalis supplements are widely available for purchase online.

Using Corydalis for Health

It's important to note that self-treating a chronic condition (such as heart disease) with corydalis and avoiding or delaying standard care may have harmful consequences. If you're considering the use of corydalis in treatment of any type of health condition, talk to your doctor before starting your supplement regimen.


Choi JG, Kang SY, Kim JM, Roh DH, Yoon SY, Park JB, Lee JH, Kim HW. "Antinociceptive Effect of Cyperi rhizoma and Corydalis tuber Extracts on Neuropathic Pain in Rats." Korean J Physiol Pharmacol. 2012 Dec;16(6):387-92.

Gao JL, He TC, Li YB, Wang YT. "A traditional Chinese medicine formulation consisting of Rhizoma Corydalis and Rhizoma Curcumae exerts synergistic anti-tumor activity." Oncol Rep. 2009 Nov;22(5):1077-83.

Henkes H, Franz M, Kendall O, Monroe J, Legaspi A, LeDoux J, Haese C, Williams D, McCall S, Johnson AD, Ceremuga TE. "Evaluation of the anxiolytic properties of tetrahydropalmatine, a Corydalis yanhusuo compound, in the male Sprague-Dawley rat." AANA J. 2011 Aug;79(4 Suppl):S75-80.

Huang JY, Fang M, Li YJ, Ma YQ, Cai XH. "Analgesic effect of Corydalis yanhusuo in a rat model of trigeminal neuropathic pain." Nan Fang Yi Ke Da Xue Xue Bao. 2010 Sep;30(9):2161-4.

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. 2007 May;59(5):695-701.

Disclaimer: The information contained on this site is intended for educational purposes only and is not a substitute for advice, diagnosis or treatment by a licensed physician. It is not meant to cover all possible precautions, drug interactions, circumstances or adverse effects. You should seek prompt medical care for any health issues and consult your doctor before using alternative medicine or making a change to your regimen.

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