What Is Dan Shen Herb and Its Benefits?

Danshen, the dried root of Salvia miltiorrhiza, is used in Chinese medicine to promote blood flow and treat vascular disease. Danshen appears to alter hemostasis and improve circulation by causing vasodilation, inhibiting platelet aggregation and decreasing clotting, interfering with extrinsic blood coagulation, mimicking the activity of antithrombin III, and promoting fibrinolytic activity. Danshen is used orally for circulation problems, ischemic stroke, angina pectoris, and other cardiovascular diseases as well as menstrual problems, chronic hepatitis, abdominal masses, insomnia due to palpitations and tight chest, acne, psoriasis, eczema, and other skin conditions. Danshen is also used orally to relieve bruising and to aid in wound healing.

Also known as:  Ch’ih Shen, Chinese Red Sage, Chinese Salvia, Dan Shen, Dan-Shen, Huang Ken, Pin-Ma Ts’ao, Racine de Salvia, Radix Salviae Miltiorrhizae, Radix Salvie Miltiorrhiae, Red Rooted Sage, Red Sage, Salvia Przewalskii Mandarinorum, Salvia Root, Sage Miltiorrhiza, Salviae Miltiorrhizae, Sauge Rouge, Sauge Rouge Chinoise, Shu-Wei Ts’ao, Tan Seng, Tan-Shen, Tzu Tan-Ken

Diseases and Conditions

There is insufficient reliable information available about the effectiveness of danshen. Danshen has been used for the following conditions:

  • Promoting blood flow
  • Treating vascular disease
  • Improve circulation by causing vasodilation
  • Inhibiting platelet aggregation
  • Decreasing clotting
  • Interfering with extrinsic blood coagulation
  • Mimicking the activity of antithrombin III
  • Promoting fibrinolytic activity
  • Circulation problems
  • Ischemic stroke
  • Angina pectoris
  • Menstrual problems
  • Chronic hepatitis
  • Abdominal masses
  • Insomnia due to palpitations
  • Tight chest
  • Acne
  • Psoriasis
  • Eczema
  • Other skin conditions
  • Relieve bruising
  • Aid in wound healing


Danshen is possibly safe when used orally and appropriately. There is insufficient information on the safety of danshen for pregnant and breastfeeding women; best to avoid. Children should not consume danshen due to possible serious adverse reactions. The most common side effect associated with danshen is an increased risk for bleeding when used with other agents that inhibit platelet aggregation or anticoagulants. Other possible side effects of danshen may include:

  • Hypotension
  • Pruritus
  • Reduced appetite
  • Stomach discomfort
  • Drowsiness

Danshen has antiplatelet properties which can cause excessive bleeding; discontinue use at least 2 weeks before surgery.

Medication Interactions

Danshen has moderate interactions with antihypertensive drugs, cytochrome P450 3A4 substrates, and midazolam. Combining danshen and antihypertensive drugs might increase the risk of hypotension. Taking danshen might reduce levels and decrease effectiveness of other drugs metabolized by the enzyme in cytochrome P450 3A4 substrates. Danshen has major interactions with anticoagulant/antiplatelet drugs, digoxin, and warfarin, and should not be used together.

Supplement and Food Interactions

Danshen may interact with anticoagulant/antiplatelet herbs and supplements, cardiac glycoside-containing herbs, herbs and supplements with hypotensive effects, and methyl salicylate oil. Taking danshen with herbs that affect platelet aggregation could potentially increase the risk of bleeding in some people. These herbs include:

  • Angelica
  • Clove
  • Feverfew
  • Garlic
  • Ginger
  • Ginkgo
  • Panax ginseng
  • Horse chestnut
  • Red clover
  • Turmeric

Using danshen with herbs containing cardiac glycosides might increase the risk cardiovascular effects and side effects such as arrhythmia. Cardiac glycoside containing herbs include:

  • Black hellebore
  • Canadian hemp roots
  • Digitalis leaf
  • Hedge mustard
  • Figwort
  • Lily of the valley roots
  • Motherwort
  • Oleander leaf
  • Pheasant’s eye plant
  • Pleurisy root
  • Squill bulb leaf scales
  • Strophanthus seeds

Concurrent use of danshen with other herbs and supplements that decrease blood pressure might increase risk of hypotension. Some of these products include:

  • Andrographis
  • Casein peptides
  • Cat’s claw,
  • Coenzyme Q-10
  • Fish oil
  • L-arginine
  • Lycium
  • Stinging nettle
  • Theanine

Lastly, there is one case report of increased international normalized ratio (INR) with concomitant use of topical methyl salicylate oil, oral danshen, and warfarin.


Danshen is often used in combination with other herbs, so oral dosing of danshen alone has not been examined in well-conducted human trials. Therefore, no specific dose can be recommended.


There are no foods in which danshen is food.


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