Dangshen: How to Stomach It
By Anthony Almada, M.S.

When searching for answers to nebulous digestive problems, many delve into the trove of Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM); while there, look for the herb dangshen, which comes from the root of the codonopsis (Condonopsis pilosula). Here's why:

Water extracts of dangshen have historically displayed modest immune-enhancing effects on human cells. However, in animal studies, a water extract showed protective effects against a variety of ulcer-inducing agents, marked by a suppression of stomach-acid production.

One study using dangshen, which garnered national attention, involved 116 patients with difficult-to-treat inflammatory bowel disease (IBD). For 16 weeks, patients were given a placebo, an individual Chinese herb (15 capsules per day) or a combination formula (600 mg raw, dried dangshen per day, equaling the 15-capsule regimen). A significant improvement of symptoms was seen in both groups receiving the herbs. How and why dangshen works, however, remains a mystery.

Exercise biochemist Anthony Almada, M.S. has collaborated on more than 45 university-based studies and is founder and chief scientific officer of IMAGINutrition.