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.
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
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.”
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.”
To consolidate all of the information above, we can come up with a quick list of possible side effects of corydalis:
- Muscle tremors
- THP toxicity (including hepatitis and liver injury)
Those who should avoid corydalis include:
- Pregnant or breastfeeding women
- Those with liver disease
- People with irregular heart rhythms
Medications which may interact with corydalis include:
- Anti-cancer herbs
- Chest pain medication
- Clogged artery medicines
- Heart rhythm medications
- HIV medication
- Pain relievers
- 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