There is, in Asia, a climbing plant, the Codonopsis pilosula. Well, from the extracts of this plant a natural remedy is obtained, also called bastard ginseng or poor man's ginseng, as its action is similar to ginseng but sweeter. In particular, the bastard ginseng is neuroprotective, it helps in case of heartburn and gastritis, it strengthens the defenses and the intestinal microbiota. Not only that, Codonopsis is also a remedy capable of strengthening the body, making it more resistant to fatigue and stress. These properties that we have mentioned are proven by scientific studies, which we will explain better below in order to better understand the action of this amazing remedy.
Codonopsis and its action on the gastrointestinal tract and microbiota
Poor man's ginseng is beneficial and protective for the gastrointestinal tract, helping in case of gastric ulcers and gastritis. Not only that, this remedy contains substances called fructans, such as inulin, which act by regulating the intestinal microbiota in a beneficial way. Fructans, in fact, are prebiotic, this means that they support and favor the growth of the good bacteria of the microbiota (Li et al, Molecules, 2018). Scientific studies have shown that Codonopsis pilosula extracts were able to increase the presence, in the intestinal microbiota, of Bifidobacteria and Lactobacilli, which are the good bacteria. At the same time, extracts of Codonopsis have been shown to inhibit the growth of other bacteria, such as those of the Bilophila type, which, in the presence of a high-fat diet, promote high levels of inflammation, dysfunction of the intestinal barrier, fatty liver and changes in blood glucose (Li et al, Evid Based Complement Alternat Med., 2021). Not only that, fructans are transformed, in the intestinal tract, into butyrate, which is anti-inflammatory and capable of strengthening the gastric barrier by increasing the defenses of the gastric mucosa against pathogens (Liu et al, Adv Nutr, 2018).
Codonopsis, anti-fatigue properties
Codonopsis has adaptogenic properties. This means that it helps the body adapt to stress and fatigue and makes it more resilient, even in the presence of intense physical exertion and weakness (Xie et al, Food Funct, 2020).
Codonopsis and the immune system
Poor man's ginseng protects the health of the intestinal microbiota and this results in a strengthening of the natural defenses. In general, extracts of Codonopsis have been shown to stimulate the action of the immune system by increasing lymphocytes, which are cells of the immune system designed to fight viruses, bacteria and tumors, in the spleen (Zhao et al, Carbohydr Polym, 2013). At the same time, however, Codonopsis acts by modulating the immune response, maintaining a balance between pro-inflammatory and anti-inflammatory substances, thus making the body ready and active to respond in case of attacks but avoiding excessive immune responses (Deng et al, Biomed Pharmacother, 2019).
Codonopsis and cognitive functionality
Codonopsis never ceases to amaze. In fact, this remedy also shows a neuroprotective action. The intake of poor man's ginseng extracts has been shown to improve cognitive function and to help counteract the accumulation of beta amyloid proteins, which is instead a feature of Alzheimer's disease. Very interesting is the fact that this effect was observed above all in the hippocampus, which is one of the first brain regions to be affected by degeneration (Wan et al, Aging, 2020).
The small ginseng can be found in pharmacies or specialized shops in the form of a dry extract to be taken by mouth. Codonopsis is generally considered safe and well tolerated (Wan et al, Aging, 2020). However, always follow the instructions on the package, avoid during pregnancy and breastfeeding as there are no studies that testify the safety of the remedy in these delicate phases of life and ask your doctor for advice if you are taking drugs, especially for coagulation, for avoid interactions. Do not take the Codonopsis before surgery as it may increase bleeding.