Codonopsis Root - Dang Shen
Products Featuring This Herb:
Codonopsis Root Extract Powder
Bupleurum & Dragon Bone
Ginseng & Astragalus
Ginseng & Longan
Ginseng & Zizyphus
Ten Complete Supertonic
Abundant Qi Teapills
Aid Life Pills
Central Chi Teapills
Central Chi Teapills Economy Size
Emperor's Teapills Economy Size
Four Gentlemen Teapills
Four Gentlemen Teapills Economy Size
Great Pulse Teapills
Healthy Digestion Teapills
Peaceful Sleep Teapills
Regulate the Middle Jiao Pills
Replenish the Root Teapills
Return the Spleen Formula
Return the Spleen Formula Economy Size
Six Gentlemen Teapills
Six Gentlemen Plus Teapills
Solitary Hermit Teapills
Ten Flavor Teapills
Women's Precious Teapills
Women's Precious Teapills Economy Size
Six Gentlemen Plus Powder
Other Common Names
Page # In Ancient Wisdom of the Chinese Tonic Herbs
Codonopsis Pilosulae, Radix
Qi and Blood
Organ Meridian Systems
Part Used and Form
Qi and Blood tonic. Tonifies Spleen and Lungs and mildly invigorates Yang.
Codonopsis is one of the most famous and widely used Chinese tonic herbs. It is very mild and without any side effects, yet it is a superb Qi tonic. It invigorates the Spleen and Lung functions so that Qi is replenished and it promotes the production of body fluids. Codonopsis is also an excellent blood tonic and a major immune system tonic.
For many centuries Codonopsis has been one of China ’s favorite tonic herbs. It is believed to have an action similar to that of Ginseng, but milder. It is often used in place of Ginseng in formulas that actually call for Ginseng to be used as a main Qi tonic, especially when the purpose of the formula is to invigorate the Spleen and Lung functions. This is totally acceptable in the Chinese herbal system. Although high quality Codonopsis is a relatively expensive herb, it is still called “poor man’s Ginseng” because it is less expensive than Ginseng and serves the same primary role in a Ginseng-based Qi tonic formula. However, recent studies have shown that Ginseng and Codonopsis do not share the same chemical basis for their Qi building activity. Codonopsis does not contain any saponins similar to the ginsenosides found in Ginseng. Therefore, it is not advisable to consider Codonopsis to be a true substitute for Ginseng in all instances. They both can be used in an herbal program to build Qi. However, Ginseng possesses a very different type of adaptogenic activity. Ginseng’s action in formulations associated with Ginseng’s powerful Yang power cannot be substituted for by Codonopsis. Codonopsis does possess mild Yang energy suited well to women and men who possess excessive Yang energy already.
Codonopsis can always be used as the main Qi tonic in a person’s program when Ginseng is not desired but a Qi tonic is desired. Its blood building quality makes it especially good for people who are weakened due to illness and Codonopsis is extremely effective at relieving chronic fatigue. Many women use it to build blood and the Chinese consider Codonopsis to be an herb specifically suited to pregnant women and nursing mothers, holding that Codonopsis helps produce milk and that the nutrients in Codonopsis are especially nourishing to babies.
Codonopsis is also useful for those who wish to strengthen their digestive and respiratory functions. It is especially useful for people who tend to become short winded or cough easily due to deficient lung energy and for people who become congested after a meal or who digest inefficiently.
Codonopsis is an excellent herb for children. It is mild yet has powerful strengthening effects, especially on the digestive and respiratory systems and upon the immune system. It builds strong muscle in children. Babies can start chewing on clean Codonopsis roots as soon as they have teeth and know how to hold the root to their mouth. It is an excellent teething herb.
Traditional Chinese herbalism has featured Codonopsis as an herb that could be substituted for Ginseng whenever Ginseng is called for in a formulation. However, the chemical constituents of Codonopsis have turned out to be very different from Ginseng. In particular, Codonopsis root has only a small saponin content. Codonopsis contains taraxeryl acetate, friedelin and taraxerol. d-spinasterol, D7-stigmastenol and their glucosides have also been identified. In addition, the root contains sucrose, glucose, inulin, starch, traces of alkaloids and resins.
Codonopsis contains immune-stimulating polysaccharides. It is therefore being used clinically in Japan and China to build resistance of cancer patients in Fu Zheng Therapy. Codonopsis has been found to induce the production in human beings of a-interferon.
odonopsis is not commonly used by itself, though it certainly could be. It may be combined with:
- Astragalus, White Atractylodes, Poria and Licorice Root to strengthen the Spleen and to build Qi.
- Dang Gui to build blood
- Schizandra and Astragalus to tonify the Lung Qi
Varieties and Grading
Codonopsis is one of the herbs that comes in a very wide range of grades. All Codonopsis grows in northern China, but the best grows in the mountains of Gansu and Shaanxi Provinces. Two kinds of Codonopsis are available: the wild one, which is called Tai Dang Shen and the cultivated, which is called Lu Dang Shen. Wild is superior and it is more expensive, although it may be somewhat smaller than the cultivated variety. YeSheng Dang Shen, which is collected from the wild in Gansu Province, is highly favored and available in some Chinese herb shops. Cultivated Codonopsis can also be of very high quality and most of the Codonopsis available in herb shops in America is cultivated. Three varieties of cultivated Codonopsis are particularly favored: Tianshui Dang Shen (from Tianshui District, Gansu Province), Luzhou Dang Shen (from Shanxi Province) and Wen Dang Shen (from Gansu Province)
Tonic herbalists can easily recognize high quality Codonopsis. Larger roots are the best. They should be straight and clean, without signs of insect, mold or fungus contamination. It should be dry on the surface, yet flexible and moist when a piece is chewed. It should be light tan in color. High quality Codonopsis is sweet tasting and pleasant. The sweetness in the taste develops after you have chewed on the root for several seconds. Once you’ve gotten into the tonic herbs a bit, good Codonopsis will taste very pleasant when eaten raw. Low grade Codonopsis is much less tasty and poor Codonopsis has almost no flavor. Because low grade Codonopsis will sell for less, the suppliers spend less time cleaning and preparing it, so it might still be quite dirty. Remember, if you eat an herb like Codonopsis raw, it is best to wash it first to get any remnants of China ’s good earth off it. Always get the best Codonopsis you can obtain. Poor quality Codonopsis is of little value to one’s health while high quality Codonopsis is a major tonic herb.
Codonopsis is one of the herbs now regarded to possess significant immuno-stimulating properties. It is rich in immune stimulating polysaccharides which are extremely valuable in helping the body fight off microbial invasion, especially in the early stages. These same polysaccharides have been shown to be useful in supporting the immune systems of people with cancer who are using the herbs in conjunction with conventional cancer therapies (Fu Zheng Therapy). Codonopsis has been demonstrated to have radiation protection activity and can be effective in protecting cancer patients receiving radiation therapy from the side effects without diminishing its benefits. Codonopsis also has interferon-inducing activity that may be of importance in many immune deficiency conditions, including HIV infection.
Codonopsis can be taken safely by anyone wishing to gently but assuredly build Qi, to strengthen their immune system, to nourish their blood and to strengthen digestion and respiration. It can be taken in large or small dosages without side effect. It is an extremely reliable herb which maintains its position as one of the great herbs of the world.