What Are the Medical Uses of Codonopsis Pilosula?

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  • Written By: Lumara Lee
  • Edited By: Heather Bailey
  • Last Modified Date: 03 November 2019
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Codonopsis pilosula is a flowering perennial and member of the lobelia family. It is native to Korea and China, where it has been used medicinally for several thousand years. Codonopsis pilosula is cultivated around the world for its beauty as an ornamental plant and its healing properties. The herb is used to treat a variety of afflictions, including asthma, digestive disorders, fatigue, stress, and high blood pressure. Nursing mothers drink the tea for its galactagogue action to increase their production of milk.

The medicinal agents of Codonopsis pilosula are found in the taproot. This taproot contains saponins, alkaloids, steroids, polysaccharides, and other components that make the herb beneficial for the whole body. Codonopsis pilosula revitalizes the spleen and is used as a tonic.

It increases the amount of white and red blood cells, and is used in the treatment of anemia. One of its most important benefits is its ability to strengthen the immune system. The polysaccharides promote the production of interferon and boost the herb’s immune-building properties even further. Codonopsis pilosula can heal ulcers and stimulate appetite. It rejuvenates the body and increases mental alertness and stamina.

Adaptogenic components in the taproot strengthen the body’s ability to withstand stress. This helps relieve many of the symptoms of stress such as chronic headaches, fatigue, and high blood pressure. It also acts as a stomachic and digestive to relieve gastrointestinal disturbances like nausea, indigestion, vomiting, and diarrhea.


Modern medicine has discovered some new uses for Codonopsis pilosula. Its healing properties relieve side effects frequently experienced by cancer patients being treated with chemotherapy or radiation, such as nausea, indigestion, shortness of breath, and lethargy, and its immune-boosting and energy-enhancing benefits help restore their vitality. This ginseng substitute has also been used to treat human immunodeficiency virus (HIV).

It is believed to have the same medicinal properties as ginseng in a weaker form. Codonopsis pilosula is sometimes known as poor man’s ginseng since it is cheaper than ginseng and is used as a substitute for the more expensive herb in many natural healing formulas. It is generally used to treat the same conditions that ginseng is used for. People in ancient China ingested a tonic composed of both herbs to restore flagging energy and overcome lethargy. It is sometimes combined with gingko biloba since the antioxidant properties of codonopsis pilosula enhance gingko’s ability to improve memory.


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