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Effective Use of Mild Acting Herbs V. Dang Shen (Codonopsis)

Effective Use of Mild Acting Herbs V. Dang Shen (Codonopsis)
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Volume 2 Issue 3 - June 2007

by Subhuti Dharmananda

Codonopsis refers to the roots of Codonopsis pilosula, recognized as a common substitute for ginseng (Panax ginseng).The botanical name derives from the plant’s bell-like flowers and the hairy character of its young growing parts.The Chinese name given to this herb, Dang Shen, indicates that it was considered to be a ginseng-like plant (ginseng is renshen) from the Shan Dang region of Shan Xi Province, which had been the principal source for ginseng in ancient times.Codonopsis didn’t appear in any of the herbals prior to the Qing Dynasty; it was first mentioned in the Ben Cao Cong Xin (by Wu Yiluo; 1751) and in the Bencao Gangmu Shiyi (by Zhao Xuemin 1765).Though codonopsis originates in east Asia and is found growing wild, nearly all the modern supply comes from cultivation.The roots are harvested in autumn after three years growth for use as a medicinal; they have a mild, sweet taste and are used in some Chinese food therapy recipes; for example, chicken soup may be prepared with codonopsis, astragalus, lotus seed, lycium fruit, and other mild herbs to make a good tasting qi tonic.The root of the related plant Codonopsis lanceolata is seasoned with salt and pepper, and used as a food in Korea, called todok.
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