Corydalis: The Herbal Supplement You've Never Heard Of
Corydalis yanhusuo is a flowering herbal plant that has been used as a folk remedy for pain throughout the centuries. While its pain-relieving properties have been well substantiated, its mechanisms of action have been less understood.
A new study from University of California, Irvine researchers helps to shed light on how Corydalis yanhusuo, or YHS, affects the body’s response to chronic pain.
“I’m not sure when the use of poppy for the relief of pain was made illegal for herbalists, but it certainly is. In fact, in California one can be cited and made to uproot and discard any poppy plants that are even remotely suspected as being used for medicinal purposes. It is certainly clear why this is the case; the latex of the poppy plant has a long history of addictive abuse both in China and later in its extracted and refined form today as morphine and heroin.
However, herbalists are finding other members of the Papaveraceae family to have similarly powerful analgesic pain-relieving properties. Even California poppy, today one of the most popular herbs sold for insomnia in Europe, has somnolescent and mild analgesic properties.
Corydalis yanhusuo is believed to be an effective non-addictive analgesic for both acute inflammatory and nerve pain.
There have been studies done on rodents who had induced inflammatory pain associated with tissue damage and infiltration of immune cells, and injury-induced neuropathic pain. The latter is particularly important because evidently Western medicine has no adequate treatments for neuropathic pain.
The teams screened 10 traditional Chinese medicines known as analgesics and nearly 500 compounds known for their pain-relieving abilities. Only dehydrocorybulbine (DHCB), the constituent found in Corydalis yanhusuo, produced a reproducible effect. Unlike poppy and its biochemical derivatives, DHCB does not necessitate the raising of doses with its subsequent addiction as do other conventional pain relievers. This is the first time that the coordinated efforts of both Chinese medical doctors and researchers East and West have been able to extract, identify and test a specific biochemical constituent that seems largely responsible for the remarkable analgesic properties of this medicinal herb.
These are several species of corydalis throughout the world, and indeed many of these may have the same or even greater analgesic properties, but the one most used in Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM) for thousands of years grows in Siberia, Northern China and Japan. Corydalis yanhusuo is one of the herbs most frequently used by Chinese herbalists for the treatment of pain and various other circulatory problems.
It is classified as a powerful Blood-moving herb, which relieves the stasis that causes pain according to TCM theory. “