Danshen

Scientific names: Salvia miltiorrhiza Bunge.

Common names: Danshen, dan shen, tanshen, tan-shen, Radix Salviae miltiorrhiza, Fu Fang Dan Shen

Efficacy-safety rating:

ÒÒ...Ethno or other evidence of efficacy.

Safety rating:

...Little exposure or very minor concerns.

What is Danshen?

Danshen is a perennial herb that grows on sunny hillsides and stream edges in China. Its violet-blue flowers bloom in the summer and the leaves are oval, with finely serrated edges. The fruit is an oval brown nut. Danshen's roots, from which many of the common names are derived, are a vivid scarlet red. Danshen is related to common sage, the culinary herb.

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What is it used for?

Traditional/Ethnobotanical uses

Danshen is considered one of the most important traditional Chinese medicines and has widespread use in Asian countries. Traditionally, danshen has been used to improve bodily functioning, as well as to treat bleeding, abnormal menstruation, miscarriage, swelling, insomnia, and hepatitis. More recent uses include treatment of blood vessel/heart and brain/blood vessel conditions.

General uses

Danshen has been used extensively in Chinese medicine for many years. Limited studies have shown efficacy in coronary artery disease and stroke, but the quality of study methods limits the validity of the findings.

What is the recommended dosage?

Active ingredients in commercially available preparations vary greatly. Commonly cited dosages include the following: 10 “dripping pills” taken 3 times a day (by mouth or under the tongue), 3 Fu Fang Dan Shen tablets taken orally 3 times a day, danshen 20 mg/kg capsules. Doses of 100 mg/kg as a bolus injection have been used in children.

How safe is it?

Contraindications

Data are lacking.

Pregnancy/nursing

Information regarding safety and efficacy in pregnancy and lactation is lacking.

Interactions

Danshen may interfere with measurements of digoxin levels in blood and may increase the blood thinning effect of warfarin. It may reduce midazolam concentrations in blood, and decreasing the pharmacologic effects, which can potentially change the effects for many drugs.

Side Effects

Adverse reactions appear to be limited to allergy, dizziness, headache, mild intestinal symptoms, and reversible changes in blood cell counts.

Toxicities

Information is limited.

References

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

Copyright © 2009 Wolters Kluwer Health

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