Reviewed on 6/11/2021
Other Name(s):

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, Sage Miltiorrhiza, Salvia bowelyana, Salvia miltiorrhiza, Salvia przewalskii, Salvia Przewalskii Mandarinorum, Salvia Root, Salvia yunnanensis, Salviae Miltiorrhizae, Sauge Rouge, Sauge Rouge Chinoise, Shu-Wei Ts'ao, Tan Seng, Tan-Shen, Tzu Tan-Ken.


Danshen is an herb. People use the root to make medicine.

Danshen is used for circulation problems, “brain attack” (stroke), chest pain (angina pectoris), and other diseases of the heart and blood vessels. It is also used for menstrual disorders, chronic liver disease, and trouble sleeping caused by complaints such as rapid heartbeat and tight chest. Some people use danshen for skin conditions including acne, psoriasis, and eczema. It is also used to relieve bruising and to aid in wound healing.

How does it work?

Danshen appears to thin the blood by preventing platelet and blood clotting. It also causes blood vessels to widen, and this can improve circulation.


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Uses & Effectiveness

Insufficient Evidence to Rate Effectiveness for...

  • Chest pain (angina). Early research suggests that taking danshen by mouth for up to 6 months is as effective as isosorbide dinitrate for reducing chest pain in heart disease patients.
  • Bronchitis. Early research suggests that injecting danshen in addition to usual treatment reduces symptoms of chronic asthmatic bronchitis and improves lung function after 3-4 days. However, by day 10, adding danshen to conventional therapy does not seem to produce additional benefit.
  • High cholesterol. Early research suggests that adding danshen acupoint injections to lipid-lowering medications for 30 days decreases total cholesterol, low density lipoprotein (LDL or “bad”) cholesterol, and certain blood fats called triglycerides it people with high cholesterol. It also seems to help increase high-density lipoprotein (HDL or “good”) cholesterol.
  • A type of stroke caused by a blood clot (ischemic stroke). Early research shows that receiving danshen by mouth or injecting danshen intravenously (by IV) might improve brain function after an ischemic stroke.
  • Kidney transplant. Early research suggests that receiving an injection with danshen for 10 days along with usual treatment improves kidney function after a kidney transplant, but does not reduce the risk of a transplant rejection.
  • Blood circulation problems.
  • Menstrual problems.
  • Abdominal masses.
  • Sleeplessness (insomnia) .
  • Acne.
  • Skin conditions.
  • Bruising.
  • Chronic liver inflammation (hepatitis).
  • Wound healing.
  • Other conditions.
More evidence is needed to rate the effectiveness of danshen for these uses.

Natural Medicines Comprehensive Database rates effectiveness based on scientific evidence according to the following scale: Effective, Likely Effective, Possibly Effective, Possibly Ineffective, Likely Ineffective, and Insufficient Evidence to Rate (detailed description of each of the ratings).

Side Effects

Danshen is POSSIBLY SAFE when taken by mouth by most people. It can cause some side effects, including itching, upset stomach, and reduced appetite.

There is some concern that it might also cause drowsiness, dizziness, and a blood condition called thrombocytopenia. But there isn't enough information to know for sure if danshen causes these side effects.


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Special Precautions & Warnings

Pregnancy and breast-feeding: There is not enough reliable information about the safety of taking danshen if you are pregnant or breast-feeding. Stay on the safe side and avoid use.

Bleeding disorders: There is a concern that danshen might increase the risk of bleeding. If you have a bleeding disorder, don't use it.

Low blood pressure: Danshen might lower blood pressure. In theory, taking danshen might make blood pressure become too low in people with low blood pressure.

Surgery: Danshen might slow blood clotting, so there is a concern that it might increase the risk of extra bleeding during and after surgery. Stop using danshen at least 2 weeks before a scheduled surgery.


Digoxin (Lanoxin)Interaction Rating: Major Do not take this combination.

Digoxin (Lanoxin) helps the heart beat more strongly. Danshen also seems to affect the heart. Taking danshen along with digoxin can increase the effects of digoxin and increase the risk of side effects. Do not take danshen if you are taking digoxin (Lanoxin) without talking to your healthcare professional.

Medications that slow blood clotting (Anticoagulant / Antiplatelet drugs)Interaction Rating: Major Do not take this combination.

Danshen might slow blood clotting. Taking danshen along with medications that also slow clotting might increase the chances of bruising and bleeding.

Some medications that slow blood clotting include aspirin, clopidogrel (Plavix), diclofenac (Voltaren, Cataflam, others), ibuprofen (Advil, Motrin, others), naproxen (Anaprox, Naprosyn, others), dalteparin (Fragmin), enoxaparin (Lovenox), heparin, warfarin (Coumadin), and others.

Warfarin (Coumadin)Interaction Rating: Major Do not take this combination.

Warfarin (Coumadin) is used to slow blood clotting. Danshen might increase how long warfarin (Coumadin) is in the body, and increase the chances of bruising and bleeding. Be sure to have your blood checked regularly. The dose of your warfarin (Coumadin) might need to be changed.

Medications changed by the intestine (Cytochrome P450 3A4 (CYP3A4) substrates)Interaction Rating: Moderate Be cautious with this combination.Talk with your health provider.

Some medications are changed and broken down by the liver. Danshen use might increase how quickly the body breaks down some medications. Taking danshen along with some medications that are broken down by the liver can decrease the effectiveness of some medications. Before taking danshen talk to your healthcare provider if you are taking any medications that are changed by the body.

Some medications changed by the liver include lovastatin (Mevacor), clarithromycin (Biaxin), cyclosporine (Neoral, Sandimmune), diltiazem (Cardizem), estrogens, indinavir (Crixivan), triazolam (Halcion), and others.

Medications for high blood pressure (Antihypertensive drugs)Interaction Rating: Moderate Be cautious with this combination.Talk with your health provider.

Danshen might lower blood pressure. Using danshen with drugs that lower blood pressure might cause blood pressure to drop too much.

Some medications for high blood pressure include captopril (Capoten), enalapril (Vasotec), losartan (Cozaar), valsartan (Diovan), diltiazem (Cardizem), amlodipine (Norvasc), hydrochlorothiazide (HydroDIURIL), furosemide (Lasix), and many others.

Midazolam (Versed, others)Interaction Rating: Moderate Be cautious with this combination.Talk with your health provider.

Midazolam (Versed) is changed and broken down by the body. Danshen might increase how quickly this medication is broken down by the body. Use danshen with caution and under the supervision of a healthcare provider if you are taking midazolam (Versed).


The appropriate dose of danshen depends on several factors such as the user's age, health, and several other conditions. At this time there is not enough scientific information to determine an appropriate range of doses for danshen. Keep in mind that natural products are not always necessarily safe and dosages can be important. Be sure to follow relevant directions on product labels and consult your pharmacist or physician or other healthcare professional before using.

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