Danshen | Dan Shen
COMMON NAME (Chinese Name)

Danshen (Dan Shen)


Salvia Miltiorrhiza


Salvia; Chinese Sage; Red Sage Root


Red sage root is known in Traditional Chinese Medicine as an herb that regulates and invigorates the blood. It’s categorized as having bitter and cool qualities, and particularly affects the Heart, Pericardium and Liver channels.

Danshen is widely praised for a wide variety of benefits. It’s said to be adaptogenic, alterative, anticholesterolemic, antihypertensive, antirheumatic, antiseptic, antispasmodic, astringent, emmenagogic, hepatoprotective, sedative, tonic, vulnerary, and much more.

More or less, that means the dried red roots of danshen plants may reduce bodily inflammation, increase circulation while decreasing blood pressure, stimulate menstruation, diminish cramps, reduce fibroids, and prompt wound healing. Used topically, it can be an effective acne and psoriasis treatment. When taken orally, danshen may have particularly significant impacts on heart and liver function. This makes it a potentially useful protective supplement against the development of heart disease (for the older crowd) and a potentially helpful hangover remedy (for the party animals among us). It may also help stave off osteoporosis (perfect for dairy/lactose sensitive folks who may have trouble getting enough calcium).


Danshen roots are most often available for purchase in capsules or pre-made extracts, though it is possible to harvest, dry, and decoct/infuse it at home.


If you’re currently taking Warfarin or other anticoagulant medication or antiplatelet medication (including aspirin), danshen may increase your risks of lightheadedness and bleeding. Certain interactions with medications have proved to have dangerous effects. Danshen can potentiate Warfarin, other blood thinners, and Digoxin.  It’s also not recommended for folks taking benzodiazepines . If you’re taking any heart medications, be sure to consult with your cardiologist before introducing red sage root to your routine. It may also cause stomach discomfort, loss of appetite, and allergic reactions in the skin even for people who aren’t taking any contraindicated medications.

You should consult with a certified herbalist, physician or other qualified healthcare professional before taking danshen.


Actor, Jeffrey K., and Keri C. Smith. Translational Inflammation. Academic Press, an Imprint of Elsevier, 2019.

Danshen. Review of Natural Products. Facts & Comparisons [database online]. St. Louis, MO: Wolters Kluwer Health Inc; August 2011

Guo, Yubo, et al. “Salvia Miltiorrhiza: an Ancient Chinese Herbal Medicine as a Source for Anti-Osteoporotic Drugs.” Journal of Ethnopharmacology, U.S. National Library of Medicine, 29 Sept. 2014

Lin, T., Hsieh, C. Pharmacological effects of Salvia miltiorrhiza (Danshen) on cerebral infarction. Chin Med 5, 22 (2010) doi:10.1186/1749-8546-5-22

Wang, Fang, et al. “Natural Products for the Prevention and Treatment of Hangover and Alcohol Use Disorder.” Molecules (Basel, Switzerland), MDPI, 7 Jan. 2016

Wang, Lili, et al. “Salvia Miltiorrhiza: A Potential Red Light to the Development of Cardiovascular Diseases.” Current Pharmaceutical Design, Bentham Science Publishers, 2017

Yazdi, Puya. “12 Benefits of Salvia Miltiorrhiza Root (Danshen).” SelfHacked, SelfHacked, 14 Dec. 2019, https://selfhacked.com/blog/salvia-miltiorrhiza-red-sage/


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