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

corydalisAlthough 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.

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.

A potentially serious concern was raised regarding its alkaloid constituent THP.

University of Michigan Health Center

In its description of the herb, UMHO 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 points 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.”

WebMD

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

Summary

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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

Conclusion

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.

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  • 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.

  • Lovablesin

    I have used the herb for my chronic pain and it works well. It makes you very relaxed & pain free. But everyone is different. I started using this because I no longer wanted to use pain medication (Percocet & fentanyl)

  • 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.

  • Heaven

    Myself, do not like the effects of the Lortab that I have been prescribed for years any longer for my acute pain, nor the side effects…I will keep taking the Corydalis Powder regardless of non tested so called scientific results….I am proof it works for me and that is all I need. THE RX drugs that are tested cause MANY MORE issue’s than any herb any where, I am proof of that, Glaucoma, Cataracts, former addiction even from taking as prescribed!!! Not shocking….many more issue’s I have from RX meds!! Bring on the Herb’s. I am making an Herbal Tincture for Rheumatoid Arthritis at present.
    Also, just my thinking, maybe the MD’s do not want us on Herb’s because they will loose our money. That is what my Pharmacist told me one day and he was concerned about losing my business also….think about it…

  • 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.

  • STARSTERN

    Googling around I came across this ;”The active content of the rhizome varies from field to field. I suggest a reference work, such as “The Illustrated Chinese Materia Medica of Crude and Prepared” by Kun-Ying Yen for such information. Some people have a genetic pre-determination to develop liver conditions that can degenerate into hepatitis when using this product. If at all possible, have a doctor check your liver enzyme panel after using it for no more than a few weeks to see if there is an elevated bilirubin level, in which case you should stop using corydalis.”

    Korean J Hepatol. 2009. A case of acute cholestatic hepatitis induced by Corydalis speciosa. Department of Internal Medicine, Korea University College of Medicine, Seoul, Korea. We report herein a case of hepatotoxicity induced by Corydalis speciosa Max. A 37-year-old male complained of jaundice and mild abdominal discomfort. A thorough history was taken, and laboratory investigation, diagnostic imaging studies, and percutaneous liver biopsy sampling were conducted to determine the cause of liver injury. An accurate cause was not revealed. We administered supportive management for acute cholestatic hepatitis of unknown origin, after which his symptoms disappeared and serum aminotransferase levels decreased gradually to near normal levels. However, at 2 months after discharge, the symptoms and the elevation of aminotransferase levels recurred. At that time he told us that he had repeatedly but unintentionally eaten a herb called “Hwang-geun cho” (Corydalis speciosa Max.). Thus, we diagnosed his case as herbal hepatotoxicity.

    Salutary effects of Corydalis yanhusuo extract on cardiac hypertrophy due to pressure overload in rats.

    Wen C1, Wu L, Ling H, Li L.

    Author information

    Abstract

    We have evaluated the effects of an alcohol extract from the rhizome of Corydalis yanhusuo W. T. (CY), a well-known traditional Chinese medicinal herb, on pressure-overloaded cardiac hypertrophy induced by transverse abdominal aorta constriction (TAAC) in rats. Rats were given vehicle or CY extract (200 or 50 mg kg(-1) per day) from the second week after induction of pressure overload, for a period of 7 weeks. Haemodynamic parameters, relative heart weight and myocyte cross-sectional area were measured in each group. We also estimated left ventricular (LV) collagen volume fraction (CVF) using Masson trichrome staining, and type I collagen expression by Western blot assay. Chronic TAAC caused notable cardiac hypertrophy and heart dysfunction. Significant collagen deposition and greater type I collagen expression were found in model control rats. These changes were not significantly reversed after treatment with 50 mg kg(-1) CY, whereas 200 mgkg(-1) significantly improved heart function and prevented cardiac hypertrophy, with parallel reductions in myocardial fibrosis, as evidenced by reduced LV CVF and reduced levels of type I collagen. In conclusion, chronic treatment of rats with CY extract attenuated development of cardiac hypertrophy.

    PMID: 17725860 [PubMed – indexed for MEDLINE]

    Calcium influx inhibition: possible mechanism of the negative effect of tetrahydropalmatine on left ventricular pressure in isolated rat heart.

    Chan P1, Chiu WT, Chen YJ, Wu PJ, Cheng JT.

    Author information

    Abstract

    The active ingredient dl-tetrahydropalmatine (THP) isolated from the traditional Chinese herb Corydalis racemosa has been found to have antihypertensive effects. However, severe cardiac and neurological toxic effects were reported from using this herb for the treatment of pain. In an isolated perfused rat heart model, THP at the concentration of 100 microM was found to have a negative effect (-45%) on left ventricular pressure and this effect was produced concentration-dependently from concentrations lower than 50 microM. In isolated cardiomyocytes, radioactive calcium influx was also inhibited significantly by THP at the concentration of 100 microM and this effect was also in a concentration-dependent manner (-39%). In a patient with latent heart disease, the use of Corydalis should probably be detrimental, the toxic effect was probably due to calcium influx inhibition.

    PMID: 10364840 [PubMed – indexed for MEDLINE]

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