Cordyalis for Chronic, Low-level Pain

Did You Know… 

… that the herb Corydalis may effectively treat persistent low-level pain without the risk of addiction or a loss of effectiveness?

Roots of the flowering poppy plant Corydalis contain a promising compound for pain management.

Practitioners of Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM) have known the benefits of Corydalis all along, and have prescribed it as a remedy for headache and back pain (even pain caused by nerve problems and muscle spasms) for thousands of years.  Now, exciting new research has exposed the compound that makes Corydalis such an effective reliever of low-level chronic pain.

The Non-Addictive Painkiller 

When it comes to chronic pain, effective, safe options are few.  Popular over-the-counter drugs like acetaminophen and ibuprofen are riddled with risks when used regularly, and prescription painkillers are even more dangerous due to their addictive properties.  Corydalis may just offer a solution for persistent, low-level pain.

Researchers at the University of California, Irvine are responsible for unlocking the mechanism through which Corydalis kills pain.  It started with an “herbalome” project that involved cataloguing all the chemical components used in TCM.  The researchers were hoping to find a compound that would act in a similar manner to morphine.  They stumbled upon something perhaps even better in Corydalis: dehydrocorybulbine (DHCB).

Unlike opiate drugs like morphine and codeine, DHCB doesn’t act on morphine receptors, but instead on dopamine receptors.  Dopomine is a neurotransmitter that helps regulate the brain’s pleasure and reward centers, emotions, movement, learning, and sleep, among many other functions.  Earlier studies have confirmed dopamine’s participation in pain sensation.

Using Corydalis plants grown in central eastern China, researchers tested DHCB’s pain-relieving effect on mice.  They found that the substance soothed both inflammatory and injury-related neuropathic pain.  Although DHCB needs further testing to rule out toxicity in humans, the preliminary results are exciting, as DHCB doesn’t seem to lose its effectiveness overtime… unlike opiates.  “[R]epeated DHCB administrations do not lead to development of tolerance and thus that DHCB may present advantages over morphine in chronic pain treatment.”

Other studies confirm that corydalis doesn’t present the risk of addiction that other pain relievers do.

Other Benefits of This Natural Painkiller

Corydalis’s potency may extend beyond pain management and into disease prevention.  Corydalis has been used as a cardio tonic and a sedative, and is currently being studied as a possible treatment for cancer, menstrual cramps, hypertension, and convulsions.

Experts suggest taking three to nine grams of Corydalis a day for pain relief.  Corydalis can be taken as granules dissolved in hot water or as pills (although with pills, it may take longer for the effect to manifest).  Experts say not to take Corydalis if you are pregnant, breastfeeding, or have an irregular heart rhythm.  There may be other contraindications, so experts advise consulting with your doctor before treating your pain with Corydalis.

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