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. 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

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5 Comments on Corydalis Side Effects

  1. Karen Camp // August 5, 2014 at 4:44 pm // Reply

    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.

  2. 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…

  3. Maximus Proximo // March 15, 2014 at 2:10 pm // Reply

    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.

  4. Lovablesin // March 6, 2014 at 1:31 pm // Reply

    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)

  5. 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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