Dan Shen - Salvia militorrhiza

Professional Data
 Pin Yin
Dan Shen
Radix Salviae miltiorrhizae
 Introduction Back to Top
Danshen Root is the dried root and rhizome of Salvia miltiorrhiza Bge. (Fam. Labiatae). The drug is collected in spring or autumn, removed from soil, and dried.

 Western medical Back to Top
Dan Shen is indicated in the treatment of viral myocarditis, acute myocardial infarction, diabetes, chronic simple rhinitis, and hepatocirrhosis, etc..

 Eastern medical Back to Top
  • Pattern: Activates Blood, removes Blood stasis, cools Blood, clears the Heart, nourishes Blood, calms shen.
  • Properties: Bitter, slightly cold.
  • Channels Entered: Heart, Pericardium and Liver.
 Chemical constituents Back to Top
The main chemical constituents contained in this herb are: tanshinone I, IIA, IIB, cryptotanshinone, miltirone, and Vit E, etc..

 Pharmacological actions Back to Top
Functions over the kidney

dan shen could alleviate the denaturalization and necrosis of renal tubular epithelial cell in glycerin-induced acute renal failure in rats, decrease the cast in lumen, increase blood flow volume in kidneys, improve creatinine clearance rate, and lower urea nitrogen; it also had diuretic effect. It could protect ischemic injury of kidney and protect the kidneys from the injury caused by gentamycin, also prevent the declining of Na-K-ATP enzyme activity of renal cortex. dan shen had obvious preventing and protecting effects on renal hemodynamics disturbance induced by ciclosporin A so that there's no obvious declining of glomerular filtration rate and urine volume, and renal blood flow volume increased compared with previous condition.

Functions on the heart

Water extract of dan shen had obvious protecting function on isoproterenol-induced myocardial ischemia in rats. It also had preventing effect on acute myocardial ischemia caused by coronary artery ligation in rats (intraperitoneal injection at the dosage of 5g crude drug/kg).

Function of preventing radioactive pulmonary injury

For pulmonary injury caused by deep x-ray in mice, dan shen could promote the rehabilitation. But it had no obvious protecting effect on thymus gland.

Effects on digestive system

dan shen could increase the blood flow volume in gastric mucosa, inhibit tissue peroxidation, strengthening the nti-oxidant ability of gastric mucosa. dan shen could stimulate the mucus secretions of gastric wall, consolidate the barrier of gastric mucosal, effectively block the ischemic and anoxia condition of gastric mucosa induced by ethanol so that prevent deep tissues of gastric mucosa from injury.

Effects on tumors

dan shen had inhibitory effect on cervical carcinoma in mices.

Effects on inflammations

Water-soluble ingredients of dan shen could inhibit carrageen-induced foot edema in rats. Water soluble active ingredients of dan shen and magnesiunlithospermate B had the functions of improving renal function and increasing PGE2 output in the urine. dan shen could inhibit leukotrienes generation in polynuclear leucoste.

Effects on hematopoiesis

Granular progenitor cells in marrow of mice injected Compound Dan Shen Injection (made from dan shen and jiang xiang) are obvious higher than those in control group.

Effects on reproduction

Huo Xue Hua Yu Fang (70% decoction made from dang shen, chuan xiong and dang gui in the proportion of 8:3:3) could obviously improve the development of fetus, decrease the pathological changes of placenta in rats. In immature rates, dan shen could increase blood estradiol, uterus weight, and PGE2 in the ovary.

Effects of protecting liver injury

Dan Shen Injection had protecting function on liver cells of D-galactose induced experimental liver injury in rats.

Effects on nervous system

In healthy individuals, intravenous drip of 20ml Dan Shen Injection could decrease rhythm, lower its amplitude in EEG, and 4C/S~7C/S wave followed by S wave activity appeared, which indicated that dan shen had inhibitory effect on central nerve.

 Clinical Studies Back to Top
Viral myocarditis

Experiential formula Si Shen Yin which consisted of dan shen 12g, hai er shen 12g, nan sha shen 9g, ku shen 9g, zhi gan cao 3g, guang yu jin 9g, chao zao ren 9g, lian zi xin 2g was made into granules to treat viral myocarditis. Twice daily, 1 pack every time. 39 cases were treated, the courses of treatment ranged between 20 to 60 days, and the clinic symptoms improved to different extent.

Acute myocardial infarction

Dan Shen Injection 10g~24g was added into 500ml 5% glucose or low molecular dextran for intravenous drip. Once daily, 7~14 days as a course of treatment. 388 cases of acute myocardial infarction were treated, the incidence rate of heart failure was 29.9%, the mortality rate within hospitalization was 27.2%, which were lower that those in the control group but without statistic significance. The mortality rate in males was 16.2% and was significantly lower than that of the control group. No difference in female group.


Compound Dan Shen Injection 8~12ml was added into 500m 0.9% NaCl Injection for intravenous injection, once daily, for 28 to 43 days. 120 cases of diabetes were treat, 50 cases were markedly effective, 55 improved, 15 had no changes.


20ml Compound Dan Shen Injection was added into 250ml low molecular dextran for intravenous drip, once daily, 30 days as a course of treatment. 43 cases of hepatocirrhosis were treated, 10 were markedly effective, 28 effective, and 5 ineffective..

Chronic simple rhinitis

2ml Compound Dan Shen Injection (each ml contains 2g dan shen and 2g jiang xiang) was mixed with 2ml physiological saline solution for nasal drip to treat chronic simple rhinitis. Three times daily, 2 drops each side every time. 4 weeks as a course of treatment. 38 cases were treated, 22 were cured, 10 markedly effective, 3 improved, and 3 ineffective.

 References Back to Top

Except those noted, all references come from Weng Weiliang, et al., Clinical Chinese materia medica, Henan Science & Technology Press, 1998