Used in Traditional Chinese Medicine as a pain reliever, corydalis comes from a flowering plant found in China and Japan. With a variety of benefits and none of the addictive qualities of prescription pain relievers, corydalis may just be the new answer to chronic pain you haven’t heard of yet.
The Search for Alternatives
According to the US Department of Health and Human Services, “pain affects more Americans than diabetes, heart disease and cancer combined.” Additionally, “one in every four Americans, have suffered from pain that lasts longer than 24 hours and millions more suffer from acute pain.”
With so many Americans suffering from chronic pain, the search for more treatment options has gained momentum over the last few years. Currently, many patients are prescribed prescription medications like codeine and morphine, as well as nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs like aspirin and ibuprofen. However, many of these drugs have been linked with negative side effects like addiction.
A Different Pain Reliever…
Corydalis, or yan hu suo, has a long history of being used to improve blood flow and alleviate pain in Traditional Chinese Medicine. Now, new studies are linking this flowering herb to pain relieving results without the risk of addiction. In fact, corydalis works in a similar way as other pain relievers by blocking the pain signals to the brain.
However, unlike morphine and codeine, corydalis acts on dopamine receptors instead of morphine receptors. Dopamine is known as the “reward” neurotransmitter, but also has been shown to possess analgesic (pain-relieving) effects.
A study published in 2014 revealed that dehydrocorybulbine (DHCB), found in corydalis, effectively alleviates “thermally induced acute pain” and “inflammatory pain and injury-induced neuropathic pain.” Another promising result from this study was that the use of corydalis did not cause antinociceptive tolerance, which occurs when pain killers gradually work less and less.
Uses for Corydalis
Traditionally, corydalis has been used to treat a variety of issues ranging from inflammation to blood flow to chronic pain. Due to its promising results in recent studies, corydalis is also being examined as a possible solution to drug addiction and depression.
Here are a few of the most common treatments corydalis is used for:
In Tradition Chinese Medicine, corydalis is used to stimulate blood flow and reduce pain caused by menstrual cramps. The herb analgesic properties affect dopamine and block pain sensors, thereby relieving menstrual discomfort.
As a pain reliever, corydalis can have a light “tranquilizing” effect that may assist in sleeping issues caused by pain. One of the 20 powerful alkaloids found in the herb, tetrahydropalmatine (THP), is believed to have sedative properties along with its analgesic effects.
One study found that the alkaloids dehydrocorydaline, d-glaucine and l-tetrahydrocoptisine found in corydalis extract helped reduce inflammation and pained caused by it. Additionally, studies have found that corydalis is the only reproducible analgesic in Traditional Chinese Medicine.
Although corydalis is generally considered to be safe for healthy adults, it should not be used by pregnant or breastfeeding women or by people with an irregular heart rhythm. It may also have some interactions with medications such as hypnotics, sedatives, cancer medications and anti-arrhythmic drugs. Always talk to your doctor before trying a new remedy or supplement.
As the healthcare industry continues to combat an increasing chronic pain issue in the United States and world, corydalis may just be the best natural solution to relieve pain without the severe side effects that accompany so many prescription and over-the-counter drugs.
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