Botanical Name: Corydalis yanhusuo
Plant Family: Papaveraceae (the poppy family)
Plant part used medicinally: rhizome
Historical use: Corydalis yanhusuo is one of traditional Chinese medicine’s chief herbs for relieving pain. It is also called the “Chinese Poppy” and has traditionally been used for pain associated with rheumatism, arthritis and menstruation and as a sleep aid. Corydalis was first mentioned in an herbal textbook in 720 CE. Today, one of the active ingredients is available in China as a prescription pain reliever.
Important chemical components: alkaloids such as tetrahydropalmatine, dehydrocorybulbine and berberine.
Contraindications or warnings: Can lead to excess sedation in overdose. Not safe for use in pregnancy.
Research on Corydalis demonstrates benefits for pain relief, insomnia and preventing drug addiction relapse in both morphine and cocaine addiction. These effects are due to binding to dopamine, serotonin and norepinephrine receptors, along with cannabinoid CB1 receptors and kappa-opioid receptors.
Corydalis studies show:
- Lessening of both inflammatory and neuropathic pain
- Improved abstinence rates and lowering of cravings in opioid and cocaine addiction
- Reduced pain in rat model of trigeminal neuralgia
Zhang Y et al. Discovery of N-methyltetrahydroprotoberberines with κ-opioid receptor agonists-opioid receptor agonist activities from corydalis yanhusuo by using two-dimensional liquid chromatography. J Ethnopharmacol. 2014 Sep 29;155(3):1597-602
Huang J et al. Analgesic effect of Corydalis yanhusuo in a rat model of trigeminal neuropathic pain. Nan fang yi ke da xue xue bao = Journal of Southern Medical University. 2010. 30. 2161-4.
Yang Z et al. Medication of l-tetrahydropalmatine significantly ameliorates opiate craving and increases the abstinence rate in heroin users: a pilot study. Acta Pharmacol Sin. 2008 Jul;29(7):781-8
Wang JB, Mantsch JR. l-tetrahydropalamatine: a potential new medication for the treatment of cocaine addiction. Future Med Chem. 2012 Feb;4(2):177-86