Corydalis Side Effects

Corydalis Side Effects

Corydalis is an herb used in traditional Chinese medicine for a variety of symptoms. This article will look at some of the possible side effects of the herb.

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Corydalis never received much press in the West until it was featured on an episode of Dr. Oz in late January 2014. The doctor extolled the virtues of the herb’s pain relief properties. Although most of the episode focused on its uses, little time was spent on any the corydalis side effects or interactions.

Interactions & Side Effects of Corydalis

Although information on the herb is limited, below you can find information compiled from a variety of popular health-related websites on the possible interactions and side effects of corydalis.

Dr. Oz

The Dr. Oz website does state possible interaction with some medications, such as hypnotics, sedatives, cancer medications, and anti-arrhythmic drugs.

NYU Langone Medical Center

In their assessment of the herb, NYU Langone Medical Center writes that corydalis “has not undergone any meaningful safety testing.” The possibility of “immediate side effects” such as nausea and fatigue in some people is mentioned. A potentially serious concern is raised regarding its alkaloid constituent  tetrahydropalmatine (THP), “Use of products containing THP has repeatedly been associated with severe and potentially fatal liver injury.In addition, there are three reports that use of THP by young children has led to life-threatening suppression of the central nervous system.”

University of Michigan Health System

In its description of the herb, the University of Michigan Health System states, “Corydalis should not be taken by pregnant or nursing women. There have been several reports in Western journals of THP toxicity, including acute hepatitis. In addition, people taking corydalis can experience vertigo, fatigue, and nausea.”

Yahoo! Health

In addition to those side effects stated by others above, Yahoo! Health pointed out that Corydalis could also interact with pain relievers, HIV medication, and drugs for chest pain or clogged arteries. It may also “add to the effects of pain relievers, antibiotics, antivirals, anti-cancer herbs and supplements, sedatives, and herbs and supplements taken to treat abnormal heart rhythms or chest pain caused by clogged arteries. Corydalis may also interact with herbs and supplements containing tyramine.”


Here we read that “it is not known if using Corydalis is safe.” We also read that high doses can cause spasms and muscle tremors.

Who Should Not Use Corydalis?

Dr. Oz stated that the herb should only be used for significant pain, and not for minor pain relief. He also said that it should not be used by pregnant or breastfeeding women, or those with irregular heart rhythms.

This sentiment is echoed by WebMD, which writes “It’s UNSAFE to take corydalis if you are pregnant. It might start your period and cause the uterus to contract. This could cause a miscarriage.”

NYU Langone Medical Center adds, “We strongly recommend against the use of corydalis, especially by young children, pregnant or nursing women, or people with liver disease.”

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To consolidate all of the information above, we can come up with a quick list of possible side effects of corydalis:

  • Fatigue
  • Nausea
  • Muscle tremors
  • Spasms
  • THP toxicity (including hepatitis and liver injury)
  • Vertigo

Those who should avoid corydalis include:

  • Children
  • Pregnant or breastfeeding women
  • Those with liver disease
  • People with irregular heart rhythms

Medications which may interact with corydalis include:

  • Antibiotics
  • Antivirals
  • Anti-cancer herbs
  • Chest pain medication
  • Clogged artery medicines
  • Heart rhythm medications
  • HIV medication
  • Hypnotics
  • Pain relievers
  • Sedatives
  • Tyramine-based supplements


Corydalis has been used for centuries, but significant testing to provide a full assessment of its safety and proper dosage is lacking.

Have you used Corydalis? Tell us of your experience in the comments below.

Updated January 4, 2015
Originally published January 2014

  • Colorado Mom

    After being addicted to (VA doctor prescribed) morphine sulfate for sixteen years, I was able slowly abate my husbands need for this and all other prescribed pain meds using Corydalis. He had degenerative disc disease, scoliosis and herniated discs. The morphine had ravaged my husbands body to the point that his weight was down to 126 pounds and he could no longer even think straight. Literally, I believe that my husband was dying. After surgery to repair almost half of his back, and with the help of corydalis, within two months we were able to half dose my husband until he was no longer taking morphine. He saved the last of his morphine, but after three years, we finally were able to dispose of the remaining prescription.

    Corydalis might not be studied and approved like other profitable meds, especially for important adverse side effects, and this is unfortunate. The over prescribing of opiates in our world needs to come to an end and if it means taking something like Corydalis, that might have potential problems that might lead to liver ailments, what makes it’s potential toxicity any different than most prescription medications? As a society, are we supposed to roll over and be submissive to harmful “prescription” drugs just because someone who needs a few more dollars in his back pocket say’s that it’s okay to take those chemicals?

    Simply ignoring something that would be of greater benefit, because there is no money to be gained by profiteers, is inexcusable.. Doctors and researchers need to review the Hippocratic Oath.

    Am I angry for what my husband went through? You bet I am. We lost over twenty years of happiness through the neglect of the VA and our government. To them, we’re just over reacting. God will have the final judgement on that one, and for that one true fact, I’m thankful. I just pray that someday soon, no one will ever have to relate this same kind of story to anyone, ever again.

  • Karen Camp

    I said I tried corydalis in ginger tea early this evening. Now I am hyper. It seems that the herb blocks the effects of dopamine on peripheral dopamine receptors. Not good. That’s like an antidepressant and I react badly to antidepressants.

  • Maximus Proximo

    I have been taking Corydalis in powder form for a year. I have Lumbar Arthritis and Sciatica. It works and no side effects. It sure beats traditional pain medications that have addictive and adverse side effects. I’ll use it as long as I can.

  • Robert

    I have personally used corydalis and have been impressed with the effects. Of course that doesn’t really qualify as scientifically valid data but it definitely works for me. Great article.


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