Codonopsis root supplement by Ray Sahelian, M.D.
April 14 2015

Codonopsis pilosula is also known as dang shen in traditional Chinese medicine. The roots are used by Chinese herbalists to treat hypertension, increase red and white blood cell count, and influence the immune system.

What's in the herb?
As with any herb, a number of substances are found in codonopsis root, including 8beta-hydroxyasterolid, perlolyrine, tangshenoside I, friedelin, taraxerol, alpha-spinasterol, alpha-spinasterol-beta-D-glucopyranoside, n-butyl-alpha-D-fructofuranoside and n-butyl-beta-D-fructopyranoside.

The addition of codonopsis to radiation therapy reduces the immunosuppressive effect.

Along with Ginkgo, codonopsis may be helpful in memory.

Lung disease
Phytother Res. 2015. Dang shen [Codonopsis pilosulaf] herbal formulae for chronic obstructive pulmonary disease: a systematic review and meta-analysis.S This systematic review and meta-analysis assessed the efficacy and safety of Dang shen formulae for the treatment of chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD). Adverse events were low and not different between intervention and control groups. Thirty-three events were reported, including gastrointestinal upset, dry mouth, and insomnia. Dang shen formulae appear to improve some aspects of the included COPD outcomes. However, owing to methodological flaws, the current evidence is inadequate to support the routine use of Dang shen formulae outside of Chinese medicine practice.

Codonopsis and ulcer
Codonopsis may be helpful in ulcers.

For a list of herbs used in Chinese medicine, see Chinese Herbs.

Side effects
Codonopsis may prevent platelet aggregation and thin the blood.

Codonopsis Research
Dangshen (Codonopsis pilosula) and Bai guo (Gingko biloba) enhance learning and memory.
Altern Ther Health Med. 2004.
To test (1) whether Gingko biloba (Bai guo) in combination with Codonopsis pilosula (Dangshen) or Gingko biloba (GB) alone could enhance memory acquisition and retention of normal human subjects, better than a placebo and (2) to investigate whether the overall health status can be affected by these supplements. A double blind randomized placebo controlled trial design was used to determine the efficacy of these two products compared to placebo. Sixty participants, aged 21- 60 years, who were either students or faculty of the Southern California University of Health Sciences. Each combination capsule was made up of 75mg of Codonopsis pilosula total glycosides and 40mg GB extract. Each GB capsule consisted of 40mg of Gingko biloba as an aqueous extract and. The placebo pill was similar in shape and color to that of the other two capsules. All the participants regardless of the group were instructed to take one pill twice a day with food. The between groups findings indicate that both products are better than placebo at producing improvements in acquisition and retention and overall health status. In our participant population, the combination product seems to be better than GB alone in improving the cognitive function and overall health.

The antioxidant effects of aqueous and organic extracts of Panax quinquefolium, Panax notoginseng, Codonopsis pilosula, Pseudostellaria heterophylla and Glehnia littoralis.
J Ethnopharmacol. 2004.
The roots of Panax quinquefolium, Panax notoginseng, Glehnia littoralis, Codonopsis pilosula and Pseudostellaria heterophylla were extracted with an aqueous extraction method and also with an organic extraction method. The aqueous extracts of Glehnia littoralis and Codonopsis pilosula were the most potent in inhibiting erythrocyte hemolysis. The aqueous extracts of Panax quinquefolium and Panax notoginseng had lower potencies while the aqueous extract of Pseudostellaria heterophylla and the organic extract of Panax quinquefolium were only weakly active. The organic extracts of Glehnia littoralis, Panax heterophylla and Panax quinquefolium were potent in inhibiting lipid peroxidation while the organic extracts of Codonopsis pilosula and Panax notoginseng had weaker potencies. The aqueous extracts possessed much lower potencies the corresponding organic extracts. However, the Glehnia littoralis extract was the most potent aqueous extract. The results suggest that Glehnia littoralis, Codonopsis pilosula, Panax notoginseng and Panax heterophylla are cheaper substitutes of Panax quinquefolium with regard to antioxidant activity.

Codonopsis pilosula Nannf total alkaloids potentiate neurite outgrowth induced by nerve growth factor in PC12 cells.
Acta Pharmacol Sin. 2003.
To explore the effect of Codonopsis pilosula total alkaloids on differentiation induced by nerve growth factor (NGF) in PC12 cells. Codonopsis alone did not exhibit neuritogenic activity, but caused a significant enhancement of NGF (2 microg/L)-induced neurite outgrowth in PC12 cells, and increased the phosphorylation of mitogen-activated protein kinase (MAPK). Codonopsis enhanced the NGF-induced neurite outgrowth in PC12 cells by amplifying an up-stream step of the MAPK-dependent signaling pathway.

The effect of Codonopsis pilosula on gastric acid, serum gastrin and plasma somatostatin concentration in dogs
Zhongguo Zhong Yao Za Zhi. 1998.
The results were obtained by oral administration of the decoction of Codonopsis pilosula in three different doses(10 g, 20 g, 40 g) to 5 dogs with Heidenhain pouch. No significant changes occurred in the acidity output of Heidenhain pouch and plasma somatostatin concentration out of the oral administration. A significant increase occurred in serum gastrin concentration 150 min after a dose of 10 g, 90 min and 150 min after doses of 20 g, and 30 min, 60 min, and 150 min after doses of 40 g.

Investigations on the protective action of Condonopsis pilosula (Dangshen) extract on experimentally-induced gastric ulcer in rats.
Gen Pharmacol. 1997.
The action of Codonopsis pilosula extract in 5 animal models of gastric ulcer was investigated. It was found that codonopsis extract had higher efficacy on gastric ulcer induced by stress, acetic acid and sodium hydroxide and little significant effect on ulcers induced by pyloroligature and indomethacin. The codonopsis extract was also capable of reducing gastric acid pepsin secretion. It is possible that inhibition of gastrointestinal movement and propulsion is one of the mechanisms underlying the antiulcer action of codonopsis extract.

Clinical and experimental study on codonopsis pilosula oral liquor in treating coronary heart disease with blood stasis
Zhongguo Zhong Xi Yi Jie He Za Zhi. 1995.
The effects of Codonopsis pilosula oral liquor on tissue-type plasminogen activator (t-PA) and plasminogen activator inhibitor (PAI) in the plasma of 25 patients of coronary heart disease with blood stasis were studied. After 4 weeks of codonopsis therapy, platelet aggregation significantly decreased, there was no significant difference in t-PA and PAI. From the results shown above, it suggested that one of the effects of codonopsis in influencing blood coagulation was its inhibition on platelet aggregation, but not through the elevating of fibrinolytic activity.

Immunological and hematopoietic effect of Codonopsis pilosula on cancer patients during radiotherapy
Zhongguo Zhong Xi Yi Jie He Za Zhi. 1992.
Codonopsis pilosula was used as an adjuvant in 76 cancer patients during radiotherapy and its protective effect on hematopoietic and immunologic function was studied. Results: (1) No influence on Hb and WBC of the patients with radiotherapy. (2) It could reduce the immunosuppressive effect of radiotherapy on delayed hypersensitive reaction, the lymphocyte response to PHA and IL-2. (3) No difference between treated and control groups in most humoral immune indices such as IgG, IgA and C3, but had slight increase in IgM in treated patients, while significant decrease in control.

Macrological identification of Chinese drug dangshen radix Codonopsis
Zhongguo Zhong Yao Za Zhi. 1992.
Macrological characters of 17 reference crude drugs from Codonopsis and Campanumoea were observed. Identification of 110 samples collected from 18 provinces of China indicated that more than 70 percent of the commercial Dangshen is derived from Codonopsis pilosula.

Protective effects of the pollen of Codonopsis pilosula (Franch.) Nannf. on liver lesions at the ultrastructural level
Zhongguo Zhong Yao Za Zhi. 1989.
The experimental hepatic lesion of C57 mice was induced by carbon tetrachloride (CCI4), and the feeds containing pollen of Codonopsis pilosula were given to the animals. It was found by electronic microscopy that these pollens evidently reduced the hepatic steatosis, improved liver necrosis, suppressed the formation of the collagen fibrils in Disse's spaces and around central veinules. It was shown that the pollens of Codonopsis pilosula could counteract efficiently the liver lesion of mice induced by CCI4.

Q. Can AHCC be taken the same day as codonopsis supplement?
     A. Probably, as long as the doses are not excessive.

Codonopsis, 750 mg, 120 Tablets - Planetary Herbals
Codonopsis is one of the most highly regarded herbal tonifiers of Chinese herbalism and has properties similar to ginseng. Research suggest that it promotes energy and endurance as well as supports immune resistance.

Supplement Facts
Serving Size: 1 Tablets
Calcium - 45 mg 5% daily value
Codonopsis Root - 750 mg

Suggested Use: 1 or two codonopsis tablets daily in the morning between meals, or as recommended by your health care professional.