Corydalis tubers

Chinese: 延胡索

Pinyin: Yán Hú Suǒ

Parts used: Dried tuber

TCM category: Herbs that invigorate the Blood

TCM nature: Warm

TCM taste(s): BitterPungent

Meridian affinity: SpleenHeartLiverLung

Scientific name: Cordalis yanhusuo

Use of corydalis tubers (Yan Hu Suo) in TCM

Please note that you should never self-prescribe TCM ingredients. A TCM ingredient is almost never eaten on its own but as part of a formula containing several ingredients that act together. Please consult a professional TCM practitioner, they will be best able to guide you.

Preparation: Remove fibrous roots from the tuber, wash and boil in water until there is no white heart remaining. Take out from the water and dry.

Dosage: 3 - 9 grams

Main actions according to TCM*: Moves the Blood, breaks Blood Stagnation and reduces associated pain. Regulates Stagnant Qi and reduces associated pain.

Primary conditions or symptoms for which corydalis tubers may be prescribed by TCM doctors*: Chest pain Epigastric pain Amenorrhea Dysmenorrhea Traumatic swelling Traumatic pain

Contraindications*: This herb should not be used during pregnancy.

Key TCM concepts behind corydalis tubers (Yan Hu Suo)'s properties

In Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM), corydalis tubers are plants that belong to the 'Herbs that invigorate the Blood' category. Like the name indicates these herbs tend to stimulate the Blood flow. In TCM they're used to help the circulation of Blood in cardiovascular conditions or menstrual irregularities as well as to treat acute pains caused by Blood Stagnation. They can also be used to treat Blood Stasis in the case of certain tumors, cysts and hardened clots.

Furthermore corydalis tubers are plants that are Warm in nature. This means that corydalis tubers tend to help people who have too much "cold" in their body, although with less effect than a plant that would be Hot in nature. Balance between Yin and Yang is a key health concept in TCM. Those who have too much cold in their body are said to either have a Yin excess (because Yin is Cold in nature) or a Yang deficiency (Yang is Hot in Nature). Depending on your condition corydalis tubers can help restore a harmonious balance between Yin and Yang.

Corydalis tubers also taste Bitter and Pungent. The so-called "five elements" theory in Chinese Medicine states that the taste of TCM ingredients is a key determinant of their action in the body. Bitter ingredients like corydalis tubers tend to have a cleansing action on the body by clearing heat, drying dampness and promoting elimination via urination or bowel movements. On the other hand Pungent ingredients tend to promote the circulations of Qi and body fluids. That's why for instance someone tends to sweat a lot when they eat spicy/pungent food.

The tastes of ingredients in TCM also determine what organs and meridians they target. As such corydalis tubers are thought to target the Spleen, the Heart, the Liver and the Lung. In TCM the Spleen assists with digestion, blood coagulation and fluid metabolism in the body. In addition to regulating blood flow, the Heart is believed to be the store of the "spirit" which basically refers to someone's vitality. The Liver is often referred as the body's "general" because it is in charge of regulating the movements of Qi and body fluids. It also takes a leading role in balancing our emotions. In addition to performing respiration, the Lungs are thought to be a key part of the production chain for Qi and the body fluids that nourish the body.

Research on corydalis tubers(Yan Hu Suo)

Corydalis yanhusuo may have a potential clinical value for treating mild to moderate pain.1

Corydalis Yanhusuo shows a favorable effect on the treatment of reflex sympathetic dystrophy2


1. Yuan CS, Mehendale SR, Wang CZ, Aung HH, Jiang T, Guan X, Shoyama Y. ( 2004). Effects of Corydalis yanhusuo and Angelicae dahuricae on cold pressor-induced pain in humans: a controlled trial. J Clin Pharmacol. , 44(11):1323-7.

2. Xu RS, Zong XH, Li XG. (2009). Controlled clinical trials of therapeutic effects of Chinese herbs promoting blood circulation and removing blood stasis on the treatment of reflex sympathetic dystrophy with type of stagnation of vital energy and blood stasis. Zhongguo Gu Shang , 22(12):920-2.