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Codonopsis - Roots


The roots of Codonopsis pilosula - also called: Dang Shen or Poor Man's ginseng, are washed thoroughly after harvesting. Then sorted and dried at a low temperature. This is done to ensure that the level of active ingredients (a.o. saponins, alkaloids and polysaccharides) remains high. It will keep the internal tissue of the root nice too: it will keep its orderly wood-like color.

benseng codonopsis planten

Poor Man's Ginseng is a twisting herb with woody roots that is used as a cheaper and milder alternative for real ginseng.


Despite common belief, it is not always the case that roots with a longer growth period are better than younger roots. The level of active ingredients does increase gradually as the root ages, but it is the circumstances under which the Codonopsis plant develops and grows that determines its final content of active constituents at the moment of harvesting.

benseng codonopsis wortels

Pieces of the Dang Shen roots.

The distinction between first or second class roots is made mostly based on visual aspects. Roots with a (spots of a) divergent color, some damage or unattractive growth patterns are usually marked 'second choice'. The level of active constituents in first and second class roots is equal and so is their strength.


Normally any bulk quantity of roots is packed in plastic bags in cardboard boxes or barrels.

If desired, smaller quantities can be packed in transparent plastic boxes.


Codonopsis roots have a somewhat sweet taste.

The medicinal actions of Codonopsis are comparable with those of real ginseng, but are milder and don't last as long. These properties make Codonopsis more suitable for people sensitive to real ginseng.


For optimal therapeutic results of the Codonopsis root it is advised to take 15-30 grams daily.

Preventative as a dietary supplement Codonopsis is usually taken 3-5 grams per day. When you don't consume the roots as a whole but only make tea from it, a daily dose of 5-10 grams is advised.
The advised amount is higher because after making tea more than half of the active ingredients will not be extracted and thus remain in the unconsumed roots.

Practical experiences have demonstrated that activity and effects of Codonopsis do not decline proportionally as the daily dose is lowered.

There is no dangerous maximum daily dose, but 1-2 grams of dried root is considered as a minimal daily dose. If you take less than this dosage it will most likely not contribute anything.

When mixed with other herbs with active constituents a lower dose of Codonopsis might be sufficient.

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