Condonopsis (Codonopsis pilosula)

Traditional Indications

In Traditional Chinese Medicine, Condonopsis is known as Dang Shen 党参 or Poor man's ginseng. Dang Shen is said to be sweet and neutral and enter the Liver, Spleen, Heart and Pericardium channels. Dang Shen is said to tonify the middle Jiao, tonify Blood and enhance Spleen Qi to treat lack of appetite, fatigue, thirst, diarrhoea, vomiting and prolapse of uterus, stomach or rectum due to Spleen Qi deficiency. (1)


Phytochemical research shows that Codonopsis species contain mainly polyacetylenes, phenylpropanoids, alkaloids, triterpenoids and polysaccharides, which contribute to multiple bioactivities. (2)

Condonopsis is an adaptogens. Adaptogens are defined as substances that enhance the “state of non-specific resistance” in stress, a physiological condition that is linked with various disorders of the neuroendocrine-immune system. The stress protective activity of adaptogens is associated with regulation of homeostasis via several mechanisms linked with the hypothalamic-pituitary-adrenal axis and the regulation of key mediators of stress response, such as molecular chaperons (e.g., HSP70), stress-activated c-Jun N-terminal protein kinase 1 (JNK1), Forkhead box O (FOXO) transcription factor DAF-16, cortisol and nitric oxide. (3)

A herbal formula including radix codonopsis exhibited antihyperglycemic and antioxidative effects in a mouse model of type 2 diabetes mellitus (4) and increases hepatic insulin sensitivity.

A study evaluating the proliferative and migrative effects of Dang Shen on RSC96, Schwann cells investigated the molecular signaling pathways including (1) survival signaling, IGFs-IGFIR-Akt-Bcl2 and proliferative signaling, cell cycle factors and MAPK pathways. (2) migrate and anti-scar signaling, FGF-2-uPA-MMPs concluded that applying an appropriate dose of Dang Shen would be a potential approach for enhancing neuron regeneration in neurodegenerative disease. (5)

Codonopsis pilosula extract in 5 animal models of gastric ulcer was investigated. It was found that the 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 C. pilosula extract was also capable of reducing gastric acid pepsin secretion. (6)

1. Healing WRIo. Codonopsis Root (Dang Shen) 2019
2. He J-Y, Ma N, Zhu S, Komatsu K, Li Z-Y, Fu W-M. The genus Codonopsis (Campanulaceae): a review of phytochemistry, bioactivity and quality control. Journal of natural medicines. 2015;69(1):1-21.
3. Panossian A, Wikman G. Effects of Adaptogens on the Central Nervous System and the Molecular Mechanisms Associated with Their Stress-Protective Activity. Pharmaceuticals (Basel, Switzerland). 2010;3(1):188-224.
4. Chan JY-W, Lam F-C, Leung P-C, Che C-T, Fung K-P. Antihyperglycemic and antioxidative effects of a herbal formulation of Radix Astragali, Radix Codonopsis and Cortex Lycii in a mouse model of type 2 diabetes mellitus. Phytotherapy Research. 2009;23(5):658-65.
5. Chen H-T, Tsai Y-L, Chen Y-S, Jong G-P, Chen W-K, Wang H-L, 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. 2010;38(02):359-72.
6. Wang Z-T, Du Q, Xu G-J, Wang R-J, Fu D-Z, Ng T-B. Investigations on the protective action of Condonopsis pilosula (Dangshen) extract on experimentally-induced gastric ulcer in rats. General Pharmacology: The Vascular System. 1997;28(3):469-73.


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