The number one Chinese herb for pain relief is yan hu suo, corydalis tuber. Yan hu suo is in the category of herbs that invigorate the blood and promotes movement of qi. This herb is a natural analgesic that has the same pain relieving effects as most opiod drugs on the market but without the side effects. Corydalis is a distant cousin of the poppy plant but without the addictive properties. Morphine comes from the opium poppy plant and all its synthesized derivatives called opiods, i.e. Oxcycodone, Ocxycontin, Hydrocodone-Vicodin, Percocet & Demerol are addictive. Heroin is also extracted from the opium poppy plant and is highly addictive.
Scientists have isolated a number of alkaloids from the tuber of corydalis, including corydaline, tetrahydropalmatine (THP) and other related alkaloids including dl-THP.1 Of the full range of 20 alkaloids found in the plant, THP is considered to be the most potent. In laboratory research, it has been shown to exhibit a wide number of pharmacological actions on the central nervous system, including analgesic and sedative effects.2
Other human clinical trials on dl-THP have shown the ability to fall asleep was improved in people suffering from insomnia after taking 100-200 mg of dl-THP at bedtime. No drug hangover symptoms such as morning grogginess, dizziness or vertigo were reported by people taking the alkaloid extract.3
Reports from Chinese researchers also note that 75 mg of THP daily was effective in reducing nerve pain in 78% of the patients tested.4 Painful menstruation (dysmenorrhea), abdominal pain after childbirth, and headache have also been reported to be successfully treated with THP.5
Yan hu suo is not given as a single herb but in a formula to synergistically work with other herbs and to decrease any side effects. This herb is not to be taken while pregnant. Please contact your Chinese herbalist for more information.
1. Hsu HY. Oriental Materia Medica: A Concise Guide. Long Beach, CA: Oriental Healing Arts Institute, 1986, 448-50.
2. Zhu YP. Chinese Materia Media: Chemistry, Pharmacology, and Applications. Australia: Harwood Academic Publishers, 1998, 445-8.
3. Chang HM, But PPH. Pharmacology and Applications of Chinese Materia Medica vol 1. Singapore: World Scientific Inc., 1986, 521.
4. Lin DZ, Fang YS. Modern Study and Application of Materia Medica. Hong Kong: China Ocean Press, 1990, 323-5.
5. Zhu YP. Chinese Materia Media: Chemistry, Pharmacology, and Applications. Australia: Harwood Academic Publishers, 1998, 445-8.
Sharon McDermott, L.Ac.