Corydalis (Yan hu suo)
Latin: Corydalis tomentellae siccata
Parts Used: Tuber and bulb
Taste/Energetics: Spicy, bitter, warming
Properties: Circulatory stimulant, analgesic, sedative, hypnotic.
Actions: This is an herb used by traditional Chinese medicine practitioners for pain relief and specifically for neuralgia. Coming from the Poppy family it contains the constituent dehydrocorybulbine (DHCB) that is the main analgesic alkaloid in Corydalis. Per herbalist Michael Tierra, “Unlike poppy and its biochemical derivatives, DHCB does not necessitate the raising of doses with its subsequent addiction as do other conventional pain relievers.” While pharmaceutical companies are busy trying to replicate this one constituent, it should be noted that corydalis contains numerous other pain relieving alkaloids which contribute to the plant’s analgesic effect. After opium poppy, TCM practitioners consider corydalis to be the most potent pain reliever.
This is a plant to primarily use for neuralgia, arthritis, fibromyalgia and chronic pain. It is also quite sedative and helpful for pain that leads to insomnia. It stimulates blood flow which is useful for that type of stuck neuralgic and arthritic pain that doesn’t seem to budge. The warming and moving action of corydalis helps to reduce pain as well. There is a strong need for alternatives to the long term use of opiate pain meds as there is considerable evidence of an epidemic of addiction and lethal overdoses with that class of drug. Corydalis provides one option.
Dosage: Traditionally 3-9 grams (1-2 tbsp) decocted for 30 minutes- best in balanced formulas. .5-1.5 grams as powder. Often used in the West as a tincture 1-2 ml as needed to several times a day.
Contraindications: This is a strong opiate like analgesic and blood mover that should be avoided in pregnancy and by nursing mothers. Avoid with other opiates and with sedatives. Avoid excessive doses.