Codonopsis Root (Dang Shen)

Common Names
Codonopsis root, Poor Man's Ginseng, Pilose Asia Bell Root.
The plant species called the codonopsis can reach five feet in length. This herb is a twining perennial characterized by possessing oval shaped leaves and green colored flowers with distinct purple colored veins. The long and sweet taproot of the codonopsis is used in herbal medicine around the world. Codonopsis is cultivated around the world, but it is originally native to Asia and was traditionally used in the herbal medical system of many ancient Asian cultures.


sweet, neutral


Channels Entered
Spleen, Lung


Parts used


The herb known as Codnopsis is a perennial plant that originated in Asia. The plant itself is very ornamental with purple flowers and deep green leaves. Its vining habit allows the plant to readily twist and twine itself around any available object as it grows. It is the plant's deep taproot that is highly prized as an ingredient that can be used in a number of different herbal formulas. Codonopsis Root has a garnered a reputation throughout the years as a necessary building block for optimal health and energy


Primary Traditional Functions
Tonifies Qi, Strengthens the Middle Jiao

 Zhong (central) qi deficiency

Tonifies the Lung

Lung qi deficiency
Disorders characterized by Lung qi deficiency

Nourishes Blood, Promotes Generation of Bodily Fluids

Deficiency of qi, body fluids and blood

Qi and yin deficiencies

Blood deficiencies

Qi and blood deficiencies

Restores Constitution and Expels Pathogenic Factors

Excess accumulation of pathogen factors with interior deficiency

Exterior conditions or interior excess meeting constitutional deficiency. Mild, gnerates body fluids and nourishes blood to help the body fight pathogenic factors suhch as common cold and constipation.

Contraindiated for use alone in these conditions:

Wind-cold with aversion to cold, fever, headache, nasal obstruction, cough and sputum in a constitutionally deficient person

Constipation due to deficiency

History of the Codonopsis Root
Although the plant is now cultivated in many countries it is still revered as a healing compound by the Chinese and Japanese communities. The original use for Codonopsis root was initially documented in the Chinese herbal encyclopedia Ben Jing Feng Yuan hundreds of years ago. The taproot was harvested, prepared and prescribed for the treatment of respiratory problems as early as 1695 CE.


Ancient Uses of the Codonopsis Root
During ancient times the cooling herbal properties of the Codonopsis Root were primarily designated to cleanse the lungs. If a person suffered from a condition which was thought to result from a lack of energy in their digestive system, Codonopsis Root would be prescribed as a treatment. This type of deficiency is still known today simply as ‘spleen qi'. Individuals who suffered from vomiting, nausea or loss of appetite were frequently given doses of the Codonopsis Root as a primary treatment.

The plant's sweet root was even favored as the treatment of choice when an individual needed a boost in energy. The use of Codonopsis Root was thought to be one of the best options available for anyone who complained of fatigue but it was also widely used to treat a variety of other health complaints ranging from mild coughs and Colds to much more serious physical conditions that included arthritis and digestive diseases.


Modern Uses of the Codonopsis Root
Today it is possible to find a number of different tablets, tinctures and even teas that are prepared from the root of the Codonopsis plant. This herbal ingredient is still being used as a treatment for peptic ulcers, GI complaints, asthma and other respiratory ailments.


The root of the Codonopsis plant has been found to play a valuable role in the maintenance of person’s healthy red blood cells. Use of this herbal compound has also been proven to promote a stronger and more effective immune system overall. Many people identify this herbal compound as a poor man's version of the more expensive Ginseng. In fact the effects of both herbs on an individual's respiratory, digestive, immune and metabolic systems are remarkably similar. The practical use for Codonopsis Root has expanded throughout the years and it is now being prescribed for cancer and lupus patients.


Side Effects of the Codonopsis Root
There are no worrisome side effects that have been attributed to the use of the Codonopsis Root. It is frequently recommended as a treatment option for numerous conditions and is considered to be a safe dietary supplement.


Cautions & Contraindications

  1. Though mild, may generate heat because of its tonic effect of sweet and cloying. Should be used with caution in cases of excess heat or fire.
  2. Incompatible with Li Lu
  3. Dosages above 63 grams may cause arrhythmia or discomfort in the left pectoral area. Side effects subside when use is discontinued.