Overview of Dang Shen
Scientific Name: Codonopsis pilosula
Similar to other members of the bellflower family (i.e., Campanulaceae), dang shen (Codonopsis pilosula) has bell-shaped flowers. Dang shen (or dangshen) is also known as poor man’s ginseng. As with many traditional Chinese medicine (TCM), dang shen is often combined with other herbs. Do not confuse with bellflowers, which are in the genus Campanula.
Conflicting (Unclear):insufficient information
- Cognitive Ability, a dang shen / ginkgo combination may be more effective than dang shen alone 
- Immune Stimulant in Breast Cancer Patients, dang shen with Angelica sinensis / citronellol / reishi, and Angelica sinensis / Ganoderma tsugae / rose geranium [2-3]
No Evidence:insufficient information
No Clinical Research:All other conditions.
- Dry Mouth and Throat
- Gastrointestinal Upset
- Avoid or contact a licensed healthcare practitioner, if you have heart problems.
- Adverse events may include insomnia, limb tremors, palpitations, and tachycardia.
- Dang shen may also worsen chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD).
- A case study reported that dang shen in combination with Alpinia katsumadai, Astragalus propinquus, Atractylodes macrocephala, Dioscorea opposita, Dolomiaea souliei, Glycyrrhiza uralensis, Paeonia, Patrinia, Poria cocos, Psoralea corylifolia, and Pueraria caused liver failure and death.
There is not enough research on the use of supplements containing dang shen during pregnancy and breast-feeding, so consult a licensed healthcare practitioner before use or avoid use.
Dang shen is not a "drug", the best doses have not been thoroughly established. Make sure to follow the specific product instructions and take as directed on the label or consult a licensed healthcare practitioner before use.
1. Singh B, Song H, Liu XD, Hardy M, Liu GZ, Vinjamury SP, Martirosian CD. Dangshen (Codonopsis pilosula) and Bai guo (Gingko biloba) enhance learning and memory. Altern Ther Health Med. 2004 Jul-Aug;10(4):52-6. PubMed PMID: 15285274. 2. Zhuang SR, Chen SL, Tsai JH, Huang CC, Wu TC, Liu WS, Tseng HC, Lee HS, Huang MC, Shane GT, Yang CH, Shen YC, Yan YY, Wang CK. Effect of citronellol and the Chinese medical herb complex on cellular immunity of cancer patients receiving chemotherapy/radiotherapy. Phytother Res. 2009 Jun;23(6):785-90. doi: 10.1002/ptr.2623. PubMed PMID: 19145638. 3. Zhuang SR, Chiu HF, Chen SL, Tsai JH, Lee MY, Lee HS, Shen YC, Yan YY, Shane GT, Wang CK. Effects of a Chinese medical herbs complex on cellular immunity and toxicity-related conditions of breast cancer patients. Br J Nutr. 2012 Mar;107(5):712-8. doi: 10.1017/S000711451100345X. Epub 2011 Aug 25. PubMed PMID: 21864416. 4. Gilbert JD, Musgrave IF, Hoban C, Byard RW. Lethal hepatocellular necrosis associated with herbal polypharmacy in a patient with chronic hepatitis B infection. Forensic Sci Int. 2014 Aug;241:138-40. doi: 10.1016/j.forsciint.2014.05.021. Epub 2014 Jun 2. PubMed PMID: 24915453. 5. Shergis JL, Liu S, Chen X, Zhang AL, Guo X, Lu C, Xue CC. Dang shen [Codonopsis pilosula (Franch.) Nannf] herbal formulae for chronic obstructive pulmonary disease: a systematic review and meta-analysis. Phytother Res. 2015 Feb;29(2):167-86. doi: 10.1002/ptr.5248. Epub 2014 Oct 22. Review. PubMed PMID: 25336444. 6. Afendi FM, Okada T, Yamazaki M, Hirai-Morita A, Nakamura Y, Nakamura K, Ikeda S, Takahashi H, Altaf-Ul-Amin M, Darusman LK, Saito K, Kanaya S. KNApSAcK family databases: integrated metabolite-plant species databases for multifaceted plant research. Plant Cell Physiol. 2012 Feb;53(2):e1.