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Dān Shēn 丹參

Pharmaceutical name Salviae miltiorrhizae Radix salvia (elixir) root “cinnabar root”
Category Invigorate Blood
Key Properties Invigorates the blood
Tonifies the blood
Calms irritability due to blood heat
Properties Bitter
Slightly Cold
Tropism HT, PC, LV
Actions & Indications 1) Invigorates the Blood & Dispels Stasis (anywhere in body)
2) Clears heat & Soothes Irritability (vexation)
3) Cools the Blood & Reduces Abscesses
4) Nourishes the Blood & Calms the Spirit (palpitations)
Dosages 6-15g (9-12g)
Contraindications (TCM) Contraindicated during pregnancy
Caution with hemoptysis, hematuria, hypermenorrhea
Contraindications (Western)
Chemical Composition Tanshinone I, IIA, IIB; hydroxytanshionone, methyltanshinonate, methylenetanshinquinone, przewatanshinquinone A, miltirone, dihydrotanshinone I, tanshinol A, tanshinol B, tanshinol C, nortanshinone, 1,2,15,16-tetrahydrotanshiquinone, isotanshinone I, II; isocryptotanshinone, tanshiquinone A, B, C
Pharmacological Effects • Cardiovascular: administration in various laboratory animals associated with negative chronotropic and inotropic effects, and reduction of blood pressure; dilates and increases blood perfusion to coronary arteries to reduce damage of cardiac ischemia and prevent or diminish death of cardiac muscle
• Antiplatelet: injection associated with antiplatelet effects in healthy rabbits, rats and mice; antiplatelet effect reached peak 30 minutes after intravenous injection, and lasted for approximately 2 hours
• Anticoagulant and thrombolytic: associated with anticoagulant and thrombolytic effects
• Antibiotic: inhibitory influence on S. aureus
• Hepatoprotective: associated with marked hepatoprotective effect by lowering liver enzyme levels in mice exposed to carbon tetrachloride; also beneficial in treating mice with liver cirrhosis; hepatoprotective function due in part to its effect at improving blood circulation and promoting regeneration of liver cells
• Antineoplastic: in mice with lung cancer, intraperitoneal injection at 9.0 g/kg showed marked inhibitory action on growth of cancer cells with p<0.05 to 0.02; in mice with ascites carcinoma, intraperitoneal injection effective in inhibiting growth and spread of tumor cells
• CNS suppressant: marked sedative effect, prolongs hypnotic influence of phenobarbital and negates stimulating effects of caffeine
Herb-Drug Interactions • Anticoagulant or antiplatelet drugs: significant impact on pharmacodynamics and pharmacokinetics of warfarin, according to studies conducted in rats; after a single dose of warfarin, use of Dan Shen orally for three days increased absorption rate constant, plasma concentration, prothrombin time, steady-state plasma level, area under plasma-concentration-time curves, maximum concentrations and elimination half-lives of warfarin; however, there was a decrease of clearances and apparent volume of distribution of warfarin; researchers concluded that this herb-drug interaction explains exaggerated warfarin effect when herbs such as Dan Shen and Dang Gui (Radicis Angelicae Sinensis) were administered concurrently
• Digoxin: an in vitro study demonstrated that Dan Shen has digoxin-like immunoreactivity; concurrent use of both digoxin and Dan Shen may result in falsely elevated serum digoxin concentrations (positive interference) as measured by fluorescence polarization immunoassay, and a falsely lowered level (negative interference) when measured by microparticle enzyme immunoassay
• Incompatible with Li Lu (Veratri nigri Radix et Rhizoma)
Classical Formula(s)

Dan Shen Yin (Salvia Drink) 丹參飲 (丹参饮)

Qi Ge San (Open up the Diaphragm Powder) (deleted chu tou kang) 啟膈散 (減杵頭糠)

Qing Ying Tang (clear the nutritive-level decoction)清營湯 (清营汤)

Ding Xian Wan (delete Zhu Sha)(Arrest Seizures Pill) 定涎丸(減硃砂)

Huo Luo Xiao Ling Dan (Wonderfully Effective Pill to Invigorate the Collaterals) 活絡效靈丹

Tian Wang Bu Xin Dan (Emperor of Heavens Special Pill to Tonify the HT) 天王補心丹 (天王补心丹)


This information is a reference tool for Chinese herbal studies. It is not intended to replace professional medical advice. Please consult a primary health professional if you require health advisory.