Codonopsis | Dang Shen
COMMON NAME (Chinese Name)

Codonopsis (Dang Shen)


Codonopsis Pilosula


Codonopsis pilosula, also known as Radix Codonopsis and Dang shen is a common substitute for panax ginseng given its neutral temperature, sweet flavor and lower cost. Primarily, it’s the roots which are used for medicinal purposes due to the presence of bioactive compounds such as polyacetylenes, essential oils, polysaccharides, inulin, saponins, scutellarein, and  flavones. Needless to say, with all these benefits, this herb is used for many things. While some use this to improve appetite, support optimal metabolism, and helps to relieve fatigue, other’s use the potential antioxidant activity to protect against oxidative stress, improve vitality, and enhance the quality of life.

With neuroprotective properties, it has been shown to enhance neuron regeneration and regulates the release of neurotransmitters. Thus, it can be used to improve the symptoms of neurodegenerative disease, including Alzheimer’s disease. Additionally, the combination of Dang Shen and Bai Guo has been reported to enhance learning and memory capability

Moreover, it exhibits Anti-diabetic activity by decreasing the blood glucose level and improving the insulin resistance during diabetic conditions. Thus, it can be used to improve symptoms of type 2 diabetes mellites. 

Lastly, more specific studies have reported that dang shen shows anticancer activity via inhibiting the growth of cancerous cells, including gastric adenocarcinoma cells and hepatic cancerous cells. Also, it helps to protect against ischemia-reperfusion injury via inhibiting the apoptosis and lipid peroxidation during a kidney transplant.


Codonpsis is available for oral administration in different formulations including pills (capsules, tablets), decoction (for prompt action), and powder (intended for use in creating other preparations). It is usually replaced or used instead of ginseng in a formulation, but when there is a risk of interactions in making tablets, capsules, etc. don’t use Codonopsis. The beneficial effects of Codonopsis can be enhanced when used in combination with white atractylodes (bai zhu) and aconite (fuzi) in the formulation. Many stores carry both dried and sliced of Codonopsis for at-home decoction as well as pre-processed extracts.


Usually, normal doses do not cause any adverse effects, but avoid high doses of Codonopsis as it may result in confusion, chest pain, dizziness, throat pain, and other major symptoms. Do not exceed the recommended dose.

It should not be taken by those with severe medical conditions or known hypersensitivity to Codonopsis. There is a lack of research studies on the use among pregnant women so, it should not be given without proper consultation with a doctor. Also, it is not recommended for breastfeeding women by health care professionals. Moreover, it interferes with blood clotting so, should not be taken by individuals with bleeding disorders or those who have had or will have surgery within a couple of weeks. Individuals allergic to mug-wort, carrots, and celery should also avoid its use as there is a higher chance of cross allergies. You should consult with a certified herbalist, physician or other qualified healthcare professional before taking Codonopsis.


Chen, Hsien-Tung et al. “Dangshen (Codonopsis pilosula) activates IGF-I and FGF-2 pathways to induce proliferation and migration effects in RSC96 Schwann cells.” The American journal of Chinese medicine vol. 38,2 (2010): 359-72. doi:10.1142/S0192415X10007907

He, Jing-Yu et al. “The genus Codonopsis (Campanulaceae): a review of phytochemistry, bioactivity and quality control.” Journal of natural medicines vol. 69,1 (2015): 1-21. doi:10.1007/s11418-014-0861-9

He, Kai et al. “Evaluation of antidiabetic potential of selected traditional Chinese medicines in STZ-induced diabetic mice.” Journal of ethnopharmacology vol. 137,3 (2011): 1135-42. doi:10.1016/j.jep.2011.07.033

Singh, Betsy et al. “Dangshen (Codonopsis pilosula) and Bai guo (Gingko biloba) enhance learning and memory.” Alternative therapies in health and medicine vol. 10,4 (2004): 52-6.

Wang, Z T et al. “Investigations on the protective action of Condonopsis pilosula (Dangshen) extract on experimentally-induced gastric ulcer in rats.” General pharmacology vol. 28,3 (1997): 469-73. doi:10.1016/s0306-3623(96)00047-x

Yang FR, Li ZM, Gao JP. Separation and structural characterization and anti-tumor effect in vitro of polysaccharides from Radix Codonopsis. Lishizhen Med Mater Med Res. 2011;22:2876–2878.

Zhang, Qing et al. “Codonopsis pilosula Polysaccharide Attenuates Tau Hyperphosphorylation and Cognitive Impairments in hTau Infected Mice.” Frontiers in molecular neuroscience vol. 11 437. 27 Nov. 2018, doi:10.3389/fnmol.2018.00437

Zou, Yuan-Feng et al. “A Polysaccharide Isolated from Codonopsis pilosula with Immunomodulation Effects Both In Vitro and In Vivo.” Molecules (Basel, Switzerland) vol. 24,20 3632. 9 Oct. 2019, doi:10.3390/molecules24203632


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