Reviewed on 6/11/2021
Other Name(s):

Bastard Ginseng, Bellflower, Bonnet Bellflower, Campanule à Bonnet, Chuan Dang, Codonopsis Modestae, Codonopsis pilosula, Codonopsis Pilosula Modesta, Codonopsis tangshen, Codonopsis tubulosa, Dangshen, Dong Seng, Ginseng Bâtard, Ginseng du Pauvre, Racine de Campanule à Bonnet, Radix Codonopsis, Radix Codonopsis Pilosulae.


Codonopsis is an herb. People use the root to make medicine.

Codonopsis is used to treat HIV infection and to protect cancer patients against side effects of radiation treatment. It is also to boost the immune system; and to treat weakness, loss of appetite (anorexia), chronic diarrhea, shortness of breath, noticeable heartbeat (palpitations), asthma, cough, thirst, and diabetes.

Although codonopsis is sometimes used as a substitute for ginseng in general tonic formulas, none of the chemicals called saponins that are responsible for some of the effects of ginseng have been found in codonopsis.

How does it work?

Codonopsis seems to stimulate the central nervous system. It also seems to promote weight gain and increase endurance, as well as increase red and white blood cells counts and promote blood circulation.


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Uses & Effectiveness

Insufficient Evidence to Rate Effectiveness for...

  • HIV infection.
  • Protection against radiation side effects in cancer treatment.
  • Brain disorders.
  • Loss of appetite.
  • Diarrhea.
  • Asthma.
  • Cough.
  • Diabetes.
  • Other conditions.
More evidence is needed to rate the effectiveness of codonopsis for these uses.

Natural Medicines Comprehensive Database rates effectiveness based on scientific evidence according to the following scale: Effective, Likely Effective, Possibly Effective, Possibly Ineffective, Likely Ineffective, and Insufficient Evidence to Rate (detailed description of each of the ratings).

Side Effects

Codonopsis is POSSIBLY SAFE for most people when taken by mouth in appropriate amounts.


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Special Precautions & Warnings

Pregnancy and breast-feeding: There is not enough reliable information about the safety of taking codonopsis if you are pregnant or breast-feeding. Stay on the safe side and avoid use.

Bleeding disorders: Codonopsis might slow blood clotting and increase bleeding. In theory, taking codonopsis might make bleeding disorders worse.

Surgery: Codonopsis might slow blood clotting. In theory, taking codonopsis might increase the risk for bleeding during and after surgical procedures. Stop using codonopsis at least two weeks before a scheduled surgery.


Medications that slow blood clotting (Anticoagulant / Antiplatelet drugs)Interaction Rating: Moderate Be cautious with this combination.Talk with your health provider.

Codonopsis might slow blood clotting. Taking codonopsis along with medications that also slow blood clotting might increase the chances of bruising and bleeding.

Some medications that slow blood clotting include aspirin, clopidogrel (Plavix), dalteparin (Fragmin), enoxaparin (Lovenox), heparin, ticlopidine (Ticlid), warfarin (Coumadin), and others.


The appropriate dose of codonopsis depends on several factors such as the user's age, health, and several other conditions. At this time there is not enough scientific information to determine an appropriate range of doses for codonopsis. Keep in mind that natural products are not always necessarily safe and dosages can be important. Be sure to follow relevant directions on product labels and consult your pharmacist or physician or other healthcare professional before using.

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Chen, Y., Zhu, Y., Wei, J., and Liang, N. [Chemical components of Codonopsis pilosula (Franch.) Nannf. var. volubilis (Nannf.) L.T. Shen]. Zhongguo Zhong.Yao Za Zhi. 1995;20(10):611-640. View abstract.

Han, C., Li, L., Piao, K., Shen, Y., and Piao, Y. [Experimental study on anti-oxygen and promoting intelligence development of Codonopsis lanceolata in old mice]. Zhong.Yao Cai. 1999;22(3):136-138. View abstract.

Han, G., He, X., Yang, J., Yuda, M., Kasai, R., Otani, K., and Tanaka, O. [Chemical constituents of Codonopsis pilosula Nannf.]. Zhongguo Zhong.Yao Za Zhi. 1990;15(2):105-6, 127. View abstract.

Han, G., Wang, C., Su, X., He, X., Wang, Y., Kenji, M., and Osamu, T. [Determination of tangshenoside I in Codonopsis pilosula Nannf. by TLC-UV spectrophotometric method]. Zhongguo Zhong.Yao Za Zhi. 1990;15(9):553-5, 577. View abstract.

Lee, K. T., Choi, J., Jung, W. T., Nam, J. H., Jung, H. J., and Park, H. J. Structure of a new echinocystic acid bisdesmoside isolated from Codonopsis lanceolata roots and the cytotoxic activity of prosapogenins. J Agric.Food Chem 7-17-2002;50(15):4190-4193. View abstract.

Lee, K. W., Jung, H. J., Park, H. J., Kim, D. G., Lee, J. Y., and Lee, K. T. Beta-D-xylopyranosyl-(1-->3)-beta-D-glucuronopyranosyl echinocystic acid isolated from the roots of Codonopsis lanceolata induces caspase-dependent apoptosis in human acute promyelocytic leukemia HL-60 cells. Biol Pharm Bull. 2005;28(5):854-859. View abstract.

Liu, J. H., Bao, Y. M., Song, J. J., and An, L. J. Codonopsis pilosula (Franch) Nannf total alkaloids potentiate neurite outgrowth induced by nerve growth factor in PC12 cells. Acta Pharmacol Sin. 2003;24(9):913-917. View abstract.

Liu, Z. Y., Yang, Y. G., and Zheng, B. [Effect of improving memory and inhibiting acetylcholinesterase activity by invigorating-qi and warming-yang recipe]. Zhongguo Zhong.Xi.Yi.Jie.He.Za Zhi. 1993;13(11):675-6, 646. View abstract.

Ng, T. B., Liu, F., and Wang, H. X. The antioxidant effects of aqueous and organic extracts of Panax quinquefolium, Panax notoginseng, Codonopsis pilosula, Pseudostellaria heterophylla and Glehnia littoralis. J Ethnopharmacol 2004;93(2-3):285-288. View abstract.

Prakash, A. O., Saxena, V., Shukla, S., Tewari, R. K., Mathur, S., Gupta, A., Sharma, S., and Mathur, R. Anti-implantation activity of some indigenous plants in rats. Acta Eur Fertil. 1985;16(6):441-448. View abstract.

Qin, L. M., Yan, Y. F., and Wang, Z. C. [Experimental study on the cardiotonic action of extract from Codonopsis pilosula (Franch.)Nannf.]. Zhongguo Zhong.Yao Za Zhi. 1994;19(4):238-40, inside. View abstract.

Wang, W., Zhao, D. Z., and Sun, B. H. [Study on effects of Codonopsis eupolyphaga anti-obesity powder in mice with nutritive obesity]. Zhongguo Zhong.Xi.Yi.Jie.He.Za Zhi. 1997;17(12):739-741. View abstract.

Wang, Z. T., Du, Q., Xu, G. J., Wang, R. J., Fu, D. Z., and Ng, T. B. Investigations on the protective action of Condonopsis pilosula (Dangshen) extract on experimentally-induced gastric ulcer in rats. Gen.Pharmacol 1997;28(3):469-473. View abstract.

Wang, Z. T., Ng, T. B., Yeung, H. W., and Xu, G. J. Immunomodulatory effect of a polysaccharide-enriched preparation of Codonopsis pilosula roots. Gen.Pharmacol 1996;27(8):1347-1350. View abstract.

Xiao, J. C., Liu, H. J., Han, D., Li, Z., Jiang, J. X., and Qing, C. [Protective effects of the pollen of Codonopsis pilosula (Franch.) Nannf. on liver lesions at the ultrastructural level]. Zhongguo Zhong.Yao Za Zhi. 1989;14(3):42-4, 64. View abstract.

Xu, X., Wang, S. R., and Lin, Q. [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;15(7):398-400. View abstract.

Zheng, T. Z., Li, W., Qu, S. Y., Ma, Y. M., Ding, Y. H., and Wei, Y. L. Effects of Dangshen on isolated gastric muscle strips in rats. World J Gastroenterol 1998;4(4):354-356. View abstract.

Reid D. A handbook of Chinese healing herbs. Boston, MA:Shambhala, 1995.

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