English: Corydalis tubers

Chinese: 延胡索

Parts used: Dried tuber

TCM category: Herbs that invigorate the Blood

TCM nature: Warm

TCM taste(s): BitterPungent

Organ affinity: Spleen Heart Liver Lung

Scientific name: Cordalis yanhusuo

Use of Yan Hu Suo (corydalis tubers) 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 Yan Hu Suo 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.

Common TCM formulas in which Yan Hu Suo is used*

Ge Xia Zhu Yu Tang

Source date: 1830 AD

Number of ingredients: 12 herbs

Formula key actions: Invigorates Blood. Eliminates Blood Stagnation below the diaphragm. Stops pain. Promotes Qi movement.

Conditions targeted*: AmenorrheaPainful menstruations and others

In Ge Xia Zhu Yu Tang, Yan Hu Suo invigorates Blood, eliminates Stagnation and stop pain

Read more about Ge Xia Zhu Yu Tang

Shao Fu Zhu Yu Tang

Source date: 1830 AD

Number of ingredients: 10 herbs

Formula key actions: Expels Cold and warm the menstruation Blood. Stops pain. Invigorates Blood. Dispels Blood stagnation.

In Shao Fu Zhu Yu Tang, Yan Hu Suo invigorates Blood, eliminates Stagnation and stops pain

Read more about Shao Fu Zhu Yu Tang

Qing Re Tiao Xue Tang

Source date: 1576 AD

Number of ingredients: 10 herbs

Formula key actions: Expel Dampness. Relieve pain. Move Qi and Blood.

In Qing Re Tiao Xue Tang, Yan Hu Suo moves Qi, stops pain and invigorates Blood

Read more about Qing Re Tiao Xue Tang

Wu Yao Tang

Source date: 1336 AD

Number of ingredients: 9 herbs

Formula key actions: Pacifies the Liver. Moves Qi. Stops pain. Nourishes Liver Blood. Eliminates Stagnation.

Conditions targeted*: Chronic pelvic inflammatory disease and others

In Wu Yao Tang, Yan Hu Suo moves the Qi to invigorate the Blood, regulating the menses and alleviating pain.

Read more about Wu Yao Tang

Jin Ling Zi San

Source date: 992 AD

Number of ingredients: 2 herbs

Formula key actions: Moves Liver Blood and Liver Qi. Drains Liver Heat or Fire. Stops pain.

Conditions targeted*: Peptic ulcersChronic gastritis and others

In Jin Ling Zi San, Yan Hu Suo invigorates the Blood by moving Qi and eases pain

Read more about Jin Ling Zi San

Key TCM concepts behind Yan Hu Suo's properties

In Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM), Yan Hu Suo belongs 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 Stagnation when it causes certain tumors, cysts and hardened clots.

Furthermore Yan Hu Suo is Warm in nature. This means that Yan Hu Suo tends 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 Yan Hu Suo can help restore a harmonious balance between Yin and Yang.

Yan Hu Suo also tastes Bitter and Pungent. The so-called 'Five Phases' theory in Chinese Medicine states that the taste of TCM ingredients is a key determinant of their action in the body. Bitter ingredients like Yan Hu Suo tends 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 Yan Hu Suo is thought to target the Spleen, the Heart, the Liver and the Lung. In TCM the Spleen assists with digestion, Blood coagulation and Fluids metabolism in the body. In addition to regulating Blood flow, the Heart is believed to be the store of the 'Mind' 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 the Body Fluids. It also takes a leading role in balancing our emotions. In addition to performing respiration, the Lungs are thought in TCM to be a key part of the production chain for Qi and the Body Fluids that nourish the body.

Research on 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.