What is Codonopsis?

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  • Written By: Sara Schmidt
  • Edited By: Andrew Jones
  • Last Modified Date: 27 January 2020
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Also known as Poor Man's Ginseng, codonopsis is a native Asian plant. It has been used in traditional Asian homeopathic medicine for centuries. The herbal remedy is considered a versatile treatment for dozens of ailments, from cancers to everyday pain.

Fully named codonopsis pilosula, the perennial plant can grow up to five feet in height. It features oval-shaped leaves and purple-veined, green flowers. The taproot, which is the part of the plant from which medicine is made, is long and sweet.

One of the largest health benefits of codonopsis is its ability to help fight tumors and cancer. The herbal remedy has the ability to increase the production of both white and red blood cells. This results in the reduction of chemotherapy and other cancer treatment side effects, making the patient healthier. It can also decrease the recovery period, as well as the overall effectiveness of radiation therapy.

People suffering from chronic headaches have been prescribed the herb as a treatment. The plant also has a history of being effective against abdominal disorders and digestive problems. Asthma, stomach pain, muscle tension, lupus symptoms, and high blood pressure symptoms can also be alleviated by the root extract.


Codonopsis can be used to treat and prevent peptic ulcers or other body ulcerations. Symptoms associated with ulcers, such as vomiting, loss of appetite, and diarrhea can be stopped with the herbal remedy as well. General gagging or vomiting may be prevented with the traditional Asian medicine.

As a homeopathic remedy, codonopsis has several other effects on patients. It can increase the taker's general endurance and stamina. It has been known to help curb stress and to simultaneously build the body's resistance to stress. Some herbal tonics that claim to be of ginseng origin substitute codonopsis as a less costly option. Some also believe that the herb is more potent than real ginseng.

The remedy is popular for strengthening the immune system in general. It has also been used to replenish Qi, or the Chinese concept of energy. Other uses for codonopsis include rectifying lung and spleen problems, increasing milk production in nursing mothers, increasing muscle growth, and promoting production of bodily fluids. The herb is also used in cooking and wine making.

Typically available in tablet form, codonopsis can also be purchased as a tea or tincture. It is considered a mild herb without reported side effects. Though many consider the herb safe for pregnant or nursing women and children, use of the herb in any form should be under the supervision of a health care professional.


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