Health Benefits of Turkey Corn herbs

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Turkey Corn Quick Facts
Name: Turkey Corn
Scientific Name: Dicentra canadensis
Origin Deciduous woodland in eastern North America
Shapes Capsules, 5-15 mm long, narrowly more or less ellipsoid
This indigenous perennial plant is a beautiful little herb that grows in North America, Canada to Kentucky, in rich soil, on hills, among rocks and old decayed timber. The plant grows 6 to 12 inches high. It has small, tender stalk and small fine leaves of bluish-green colour, round bulbous root, about the size of a large pea; from two to four of these peas to a stalk, attached to small roots which are hard, and of yellowish colour; quite bitter, and nearly odourless. The six to ten small, reddish-purple, nodding flowers are seen very early in the spring and the root should be gathered while the plant is in flower. The fruit is a pod-shaped, many-seeded capsule. The alkaloid, Corydalia, is the active principle.


Flowers form in a raceme of 4 to 8 hanging, greenish-white shaped flowers measuring ¾ inch long and ½ inch wide on slender stalks at the end of naked stem rising above the leaves. The pair of small yellowish lobes open like wings and reveals the short stamens and two horned stigma. The pair of long, vertical ruffles is at right angles to the wings. Sepals are triangular to ovate, 2-4 mm long, attached basally and rounded to more or less truncate base. Margins are entire, membranous and white. Corollas are white and sometimes pinkish tinged with yellow to orangish yellow tip. Inner petals are linear or nearly so toward base which is expanded above the midpoint with broadly winged margin.

Leaves and stems

Leaves are basal, triangular in outline about 5 to 9 inches long and 2½ to 5 inches wide, thrice divided into lacy, narrowly oblong to linear segments. Surfaces are smooth, the underside with a powdery, waxy bloom. Stems are smooth and green to brown. Petiole is 8-24 cm long. Usually leaf blades are four times compound, lobed and about 4.5-9 cm long and ovate to broadly triangular in outline.

Facts of Turkey Corn

Name Turkey Corn
Scientific Name Dicentra canadensis
Native Deciduous woodland in eastern North America
Common/English Name Wild Turkey Corn, Choice Dielytra, Stagger Weed, Squirrel Corn
Stem 6-25 cm in length
Leaf (3-5 x 1-3 cm) wide
Flowering Season Mid spring to autumn
Flower White, pale pink, heart shaped, 8-12 mm in diameter
Fruit shape & size Capsules, 5-15 mm long, narrowly more or less ellipsoid
Seed Somewhat flattened, kidney-shaped, 1.5-2.5 mm long
Medicinal part The root


Fruits are dehiscent capsules about 5-15 mm long and narrowly more or less ellipsoid. The surface is often slightly swollen over seeds, smooth and 3 to numerous seeded. Seeds are 1.5 to 2.5 mm long, somewhat flattened, kidney shaped in outline, rounded along rim. Surface is smooth, shiny and black.


Do not disregard the action of this herb by the barnyard sound of the common name (the root growth resembles a corn kernel). Turkey corn is one of the best alterative agents in the herbal kingdom. It is usually combined with other remedies such as Burdock (Lappa), Queen’s delight (Stillingia), or Prickly ash (Xanthoxylum fraxineum). A Philadelphia professor has this to say about the small root: “There is no fact better established than that this medicine, judiciously administered, has the power to remove syphilis from the system.” The tincture should be prepared from the fresh herb and given in doses of 20–30 drops, three times a day. Also admirable for scrofula and all skin diseases. Recommended in menstrual complaints, as its tonic properties render it as an alterative in all enfeebled conditions.


Infusion of 1 teaspoonful of the root, cut small or granulated, to 1 cupful of boiling water; steep ½ hr.; drink cold a wineglassful three or four times a day. Of the powder, 5–10 grains. Of the tincture, 20–30 drops three or four times a day.

Homoeopathic Clinical

Tincture of bulbous root gathered when plant is in flower; trituration of dried root; triturations of Corydalia—Gastric catarrh, Scrofula, Syphilis, Ulcerations.

Russian Experience

The most interesting Russian literature is given to one kind of Turkey corn, Corydalis, commonly called “Chochlatka”, which means in folk language hens or chickens cackling indiscriminately. The shadowy bush or brush growth of central and south Russia is an ideal setting for survival. Indication of past Folk Medicine is not mentioned, only Atlas (1963) giving botanical description and medical details.


As extracts of Corydil and in combinations, for trembling, nerve paralysis and nerve disorders: it stimulates and increases muscle tone. Experiments on animals show positive effect on the central nervous system. Physiologically Iscoriaodine is calming to the central nervous system. As there is no other information from available books, interested readers will get the best scientific information about chemical, botanical and clinical properties from Atlas, Moscow, 1963.

This brief information is given with the thought that the local knowledge of the Indians and Folk Medicine in North America has been confirmed scientifically and clinically by scientists in other countries.

Medicinal uses

  • It is used by Native Americans for treating ulcers, sores, cramps, burns, fever, tapeworms, diarrhea and irregular periods.
  • It is also used to stop vomiting.
  • It is used as a spring emetic, blood purifier and also in cough syrups.
  • Tubers are used for treating chronic cutaneous affections, scrofula, syphilis and menstrual complaints.






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