Corydalis (Corydalis yanhusuo)

Family: Papaveraceae

Parts commonly used: Rhizome.

Properties/energetics: Analgesic, anodyne, circulatory stimulant, antispasmodic, emmenagogue/Warm; spicy, bitter.

Systems predominantly affected:  Circulatory, lungs, liver, digestive, reproductive.

Uses: This herb is a member of the Poppy family, and, like its cousin botanicals, it is a very strong analgesic (pain reliever), having approximately 1 percent of the strength of opium. The pain-relieving power of its combined alkaloids are 40 percent as effective as morphine for pain caused by congestive conditions of the chest, the stomach and the colon, and the uterus and for hernial disorders and traumatic injury.

Combinations: Combines well in general with California Poppy and Wild Lettuce and any of the following herbs for relief of specific pain: Silk Tassel and Dong Quai for painful menstruation (dysmenorrhea), Feverfew and Valerian for headache, and Licorice and Fennel for intestinal discomfort. For any other pain, take some corydalis, give more when needed, and have the person rest.

Affects on specific body types: Corydalis relieves pain in all constitutional types.

Precautions: Large doses can cause drowsiness. Do not use during pregnancy.

Preparations/dosage: Alcoholic and acetic acid extractions (the latter an alcohol tincture that includes 10 percent vinegar) are the most potent. Decoction: Up to 1/2 ounce boiled in water taken as needed. Corydalis is available in tablet form, called yan hu suo.

By James Green, Herbalist, copyright 2008

For more information please refer to James Green’s book, The Male Herbal, 2nd Edition