CorydalisCorydalis turtschaninovii, Corydalis yanhusuo
• Pain (many types, including
Widely used in Chinese herbal medicine, the herb corydalis is said to alleviate pain by “moving qi” and “stimulating the blood.” These expressions refer to traditional concepts included within the complex theories of
The part of the plant used medicinally is the rhizome (underground stalk).
What is Cordyalis Used for Today?
There is no reliable evidence that corydalis or its constituents offer any medicinal benefits. Corydalis contains a number of active and potentially dangerous chemicals in the alkaloid family, including tetrahydropalmatine (THP), corydaline, protopine, tetrahydrocoptisine, tetrahydrocolumbamine, and corybulbine. Of these, THP may be the most active, as well as the most toxic (see Safety Issues
Much weaker evidence from
Corydalis is usually taken at a dose of 5–10 grams daily, or equivalent quantities of an extract.
Corydalis has not undergone any meaningful safety testing. The herb is known to produce immediate side effects, including nausea and fatigue, in some people. In addition, there are serious safety concerns related to its alkaloid constituent THP. Use of products containing THP has repeatedly been associated with severe and potentially fatal liver injury. 11-16
In addition, there are three reports that use of THP by young children has led to life-threatening suppression of the central nervous system.
For these reasons, we strongly recommend against the use of corydalis, especially by young children, pregnant or nursing women, or people with liver disease.
3. Reimeier C, Schneider I, Schneider W, et al. Effects of ethanolic extracts from Eschscholtzia californica and Corydalis cava on dimerization and oxidation of enkephalins. Arzneimittelforschung . 1995;45:132–6.
6. Kleber E, Schneider W, Schafer HL, et al.. Modulation of key reactions of the catecholamine metabolism by extracts from Eschscholtzia californica and Corydalis cava . Arzneimittelforschung . 1995;45:127–31.
8. Kubo M, Matsuda H, Tokuoka K, et al. 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 . 1994;17:458–9.
Last reviewed April 2009 by EBSCO CAM Review Board
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