yán hú suǒ | Fumewort
COMMON NAME (Chinese Name)

Corydalis (Yán Hú Suǒ)


Corydalis yanhusuo


Corydalis supplements have empirically-proven analgesic and sedative effects, making them effective nutraceutical therapies for insomnia and anxiety. As a pain-killer, decoctions using the rhizomes of Corydalis plants are especially useful (and popular) for treating menstrual pain and menstruation-triggered migraines, as well as everyday headaches. Corydalis root decoctions get their sedative and pain-killing properties by inhibiting dopamine receptors and triggering changes in serotonin and noradrenaline levels — similar to the ways modern SSRI antidepressants function.

Consequently, in addition to having well-defined uses in pain management and sedation, Corydalis also shows some promise for use in improving and stabilizing mood. The antidepressant effects of dl-tetrahydropalmatine (the primary active compound in Corydalis decoctions) are evident in as little as 45 minutes after oral use, making it a potential novel fast-acting treatment for depression, anxiety, and bipolar disorder. Moreover, clinical trials have demonstrated the potential value of Corydalis root extract in minimizing cravings and the symptoms of withdrawal for people trying to quite a variety of different controlled substance habits. There is some evidence that people trying to quit smoking or using tobacco products, for example, may be more likely to quit (and avoid relapsing) successfully.

Corydalis yanhusuo rhizomes are considered in Chinese medicine as spicy, bitter and cool, going to the Heart, Liver, Lung and Stomach channels. It is classified by Chinese medicine as an herb that increases circulation, removing pain caused by stagnation (lack of circulation).


Traditional medicinal applications of Corydalis call for the use of the dried tubers (root structures) of Corydalis yanhusuo plants. Attempting to substitute other variants of Corydalis is not recommended, as not all variations have all (or the same) medicinal properties.

The dried tubers of Corydalis yanhusuo plants are traditionally prepared for oral use via hot-water decoctions and alcohol-based tinctures. However, Corydalis root is now also available for purchase in (largely un-researched) pill and powder forms. Recent research suggests that tinctures/extracts made using alcohol and acetic-acid have the most potent medicinal effects. That said, stir-frying the rhizome in vinegar/wine before making your hot-water decoctions can also amplify the therapeutic effects of Corydalis teas and tinctures.


Women who are pregnant or trying to become pregnant should not take Corydalis supplements. Likewise, because these supplements have significant effects on brain chemistry and hormone levels, people with a history of depression, anxiety, bipolar disorder, psychosis, and other mood disorders should talk to their doctor before using Corydalis supplements. This is doubly true for people currently taking ant-depressants and similar medications.

Using this herb may cause people to test positive for opiates in urine tests.

You should consult with a certified herbalist, physician or other qualified healthcare professional before taking Cordydalis.


Chen, John, Chen, T &  Cramton, L. Chinese Medical Herbology and Pharmacology Art of Medicine Press, Inc. City of Industry, CA USA. 2003. 1327 pp ISBN: 0-9740635-0-9  http://aompress.com/herbology

Chen, Hsing-Yu, et al. “Investigation on Chinese Herbal Medicine for Primary Dysmenorrhea: Implication from a Nationwide Prescription Database in Taiwan.” Complementary Therapies in Medicine, Churchill Livingstone, 6 Dec. 2013, https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/abs/pii/S0965229913001970.

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Li, Rui, et al. “Fast-Acting Effects of l-Tetrahydropalmatine on Depression and Anxiety in Mice.” International Journal of Psychiatry and Mental Health, 2019, pp. 01–12., doi:10.36811/ijpmh.2019.110001.

Ma, Zhong-Ze, et al. “Isoquinoline Alkaloids Isolated from Corydalis Yanhusuo and Their Binding Affinities at the Dopamine D1 Receptor.” Molecules, vol. 13, no. 9, 2008, pp. 2303–2312., doi:10.3390/molecules13092303.

Romm, Aviva, et al. “Menstrual Wellness and Menstrual Problems.” Botanical Medicine for Women’s Health, Churchill Livingstone, 4 Dec. 2009, https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/B9780443072772000076.

Romm, Aviva, et al. “Conditions of the Reproductive Organs.” Botanical Medicine for Women’s Health, Churchill Livingstone, 4 Dec. 2009, https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/B978044307277200009X.

Wu, Hongwei, et al. “Influence of Vinegar and Wine Processing on the Alkaloid Content and Composition of the Traditional Chinese Medicine Corydalis Rhizoma (Yanhusuo).” Molecules, vol. 19, no. 8, Apr. 2014, pp. 11487–11504., doi:10.3390/molecules190811487.

Zengion, Andrea H., and Eric Yarnell. “Herbal and Nutritional Supplements for Painful Conditions.” Pain Procedures in Clinical Practice (Third Edition), Hanley & Belfus, 30 Aug. 2011, https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/B978141603779810020X.


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