Corydalis is a Chinese remedy used at least since the 8th century to help “invigorate the blood” and relieve almost any painful condition. It is mainly used for menstrual cramps, and for chest and abdominal pain. Research in China has confirmed the validity of corydalis’ traditional use, revealing that it contains powerful alkaloids that are responsible for its analgesic effect.

Corydalis is hypnotic, sleep-inducing, hallucinogenic, sedative, and tranquillising. It also suppresses the central nervous system, reduces blood pressure, and impedes movement of the small intestine. Folk medicine used it for worm infestation, menstrual disorders, and Parkinson’s disease. Externally it was applied to poorly healing wounds and ulcers.

Botanical Name

Corydalis ambigua

Part Used


Common Names

Ezo-Engosaku, Hsuan Hu So, Yen Hu So, Yan Hu Suo


Corydalis ambigua flowerNative to Siberia, northern China, and Japan, corydalis is commonly cultivated in eastern and northeastern parts of China. It is propagated from seed in early spring or autumn, and the rhizome is harvested in late spring and early summer when the aerial parts have withered


Alkaloids (corydalis L, dl-tetrahydropalmatin aka THP, Papaveraceae type alkaloids)

Therapeutic Properties

Sedative, hypnotic, antispasmodic (muscles), anodyne, analgesic, cardioprotective, antiarrhythmic

Vitalist Properties

Temperature: Warming

Moisture: Moist

Therapeutic Indications

Aches and pains, anxiety, arthritis pain, ataxia, bruises, dysmenorrhea, hernia pain, lumbago, migraine, nervous hysteria, palsy, Parkinson’s disease, rheumatism pain, pain from traumatic injury, tics, tremors, and twitching.

Primary Use


Corydalis is specifically taken to treat pain and is used in Chinese herbal medicine to relieve pain resulting from almost any cause. It is rarely taken on its own, being combined with various other herbs as appropriate.

Corydalis is most commonly used to relieve menstrual pain.

In Chinese medical theory, and in other herbal traditions, pain is often thought to stem from obstruction of normal blood flow. As corydalis is believed to “invigorate the blood,” it is considered to be especially useful as a treatment for the pain that results from a traumatic injury.

Anxiety, insomnia, and restless legs syndrome.

The sedative qualities of corydalis make it useful in the treatment of insomnia and anxiety. Its alkaloids increase the sleep-inducing effect of barbiturates and are about 40 percent as effective as morphine in inducing sleep. Herbalists blend corydalis with passionflower or Skullcap to treat nervousness, insomnia, agitation, and anxiety.

Dosage (Divided Daily)

• Dried Extract: 2,000 – 6,000mg (10:1)

Dried Powder: 3,000 – 9,000mg

• Tincture: 4 – 20mL (1:2)

Buy Corydalis Loose Herb, Powder Capsules
Corydalis Root



Children, pregnant or nursing women should not use Corydalis, nor should those who have severe liver or kidney disease. Overuse (many times the recommended dosage) may lead to toxicity or hepatitis, and use of Corydalis may cause liver injury, nausea, fatigue or vertigo.

Side effects

Overdose can cause twitching and tics, rather than remedy them.

Interactions with other drugs

Corydalis may enhance the effects of sedatives, including alcohol and benzodiazepines, and should not be used at the same time.


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  3. Chevallier, A. (2000). Encyclopedia of herbal medicine (2nd American ed.). New York: DK Pub.
  4. Herbalpedia (2013)
  5. Mars, Brigitte. The Desktop Guide to Herbal Medicine: The Ultimate Multidisciplinary Reference to the Amazing Realm of Healing Plants, in a Quick-Study, One-Stop Guide. Laguna Beach, CA: Basic Health Pub., 2007.

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