Dan Shen Health Benefits and Heart Health

dan shen root

Dan Shen, also known as Red Sage, is a revered herb in traditional Chinese medicine, celebrated for its many of health benefits, particularly in relation to heart health. In this article, we will explore Dan Shen in detail, including its benefits and why it is considered a vital herb for cardiovascular health.


What is Dan Shen?

dan shen


Dan Shen, scientifically known as Salvia miltiorrhiza, is a perennial plant native to China and Japan. It is most commonly used in traditional Chinese medicine, where it has been utilized for thousands of years. The root of the plant is the most valuable part and is often used in various forms such as teas, tinctures, and capsules.


Dan Shen has a very long history of use in traditional wellness practices of China and Japan, with a reputation for supporting a variety of health-related functions. Beyond its widespread recognition in traditional medicine, Dan Shen is also a focus of modern studies that investigate its therapeutic potential, particularly in phytochemistry. Scientists have discovered that the root is rich in active compounds, such as tanshinones and salvianolic acids, that are believed to be responsible for the health benefits of Dan Shen.


Historical Use of Dan Shen


Historically, Dan Shen has played a significant role in the treatment of various health issues, ranging from sleep disturbances to heart and liver diseases. (1) Its consistent mention in Chinese medical texts highlights its importance and longstanding value in promoting better blood circulation, soothing the mind, and combating blood stasis. This last condition, described in Chinese medicine as a “blockage,” is thought to cause both pain and disease. Traditional Chinese medicine practitioners turned to Dan Shen to help clear these blockages, thus reducing symptoms and restoring health.


Dan Shen Benefits

dan shen plant


Dan Shen is a revered herbal medicine with a wide range of uses and potential health benefits. Some of the most significant include:


Cardiovascular Health


One of the primary historical uses of Dan Shen is supporting heart function and cardiovascular health. The impact of Dan Shen on cardiovascular health is significant, with many reported treatments for a variety of cardiovascular conditions. This has made Dan Shen quite popular in the realm of natural remedies for heart health, gaining attention from both traditional practitioners and modern scientists.


The active compounds within Dan Shen, particularly tanshinones and salvianolic acids, have been studied for their vasodilatory effects—meaning they help widen blood vessels, which improves blood flow and circulation. (2, 3) This is particularly vital for individuals with hypertension (high blood pressure), a condition that affects a significant portion of the adult population and is a major risk factor for heart disease. (4) By reducing the vascular resistance, Dan Shen may help lower blood pressure levels, thereby easing the strain on the heart and arterial system.


Research into the cardiovascular benefits of Dan Shen has revealed that these compounds can help protect the heart muscle and improve its function. For instance, one study found that Dan Shen was able to reduce the risk of angina in patients with coronary heart disease (CHD). (5) Angina, characterized by chest pain or discomfort due to coronary heart disease, can significantly impact quality of life. The ability of Dan Shen to potentially increase blood flow to the heart muscle itself could alleviate the frequency and severity of angina attacks.


Furthermore, studies have also looked at Dan Shen's effects on cardiac microcirculation, an essential aspect of heart function, especially after an ischemic event such as a heart attack. A study published in the journal “Pharmaceutical Biology” found that “pretreatment with a Dan Shen decoction can protect cardiomycocytes from ischemia/reperfusion injury by lowering serum myocardial enzyme levels, reducing the infarct area, and lowerinf inflammatory factor expression.” (6)


Myocardial ischemia is a condition where blockage of blood flow results in insufficient oxygen to the heart muscle. By improving microcirculation, Dan Shen may help in the delivery of oxygen and nutrients necessary for healing and repair.


The multifaceted approach of Dan Shen in cardiovascular health is also demonstrated by its reported effects on heart rhythm. Some research indicates that it may help in regulating heartbeats, thus potentially being beneficial for arrhythmias, although this is an area that requires more comprehensive study.


It is important to note that while the evidence supporting the cardiovascular effects of Dan Shen is promising, these studies often involve complex extracts and are sometimes carried out in vitro or on animal models. Clinical trials on humans are necessary to fully understand the potential benefits and risks, as well as the appropriate dosages and forms of this herb for cardiovascular support. Nonetheless, the existing body of scientific literature provides a strong foundation for the continued use and study of Dan Shen in the realm of heart health.


Additionally, Dan Shen has a very long history of use in traditional medicine for heart conditions specifically. Given the variety of scientific studies on Dan Shen and it’s impact on heart health, as well as its impressive traditional and historical use, it is clear that Dan Shen stands out as a unique herbal remedy for supporting heart health.


Antioxidant Properties


Dan Shen contains a wealth of antioxidants that play a critical role in combating oxidative stress, a harmful process triggered by free radicals. (7) These free radicals can damage cells, proteins, and DNA, contributing to aging and chronic diseases like heart disease. By neutralizing free radicals, the antioxidants found in Dan Shen help shield the body from this cellular stress, potentially slowing the progression of disease and supporting overall health. This protective action is essential in maintaining long-term cardiovascular health and preventing the development of related conditions.


Anti-inflammatory Effects


Chronic inflammation is an underlying factor in many health conditions, including heart disease. (8) It's part of the body’s defense mechanism but, when it persists, can contribute to the development of several diseases. Dan Shen's anti-inflammatory properties are beneficial in this context. By reducing inflammation, this herb may play a role in decreasing the risk of inflammation-induced cardiovascular issues. This effect is particularly relevant for conditions such as myocarditis or inflammation of the heart muscle, where managing inflammation is crucial.


Improving Blood Lipid Profiles


Balancing blood lipid levels is a cornerstone in the prevention and management of atherosclerosis, a precursor to many forms of heart disease. Dan Shen aids in this balance by reducing the levels of total cholesterol and LDL, the so-called 'bad' cholesterol, which can accumulate in blood vessel walls, leading to blockages. (9) Simultaneously, it may help increase HDL, or 'good' cholesterol, which helps remove other forms of cholesterol from the bloodstream. By contributing to the maintenance of healthy blood lipid levels, Dan Shen supports vascular health and helps prevent the progression of atherosclerosis, ultimately contributing to a healthier cardiovascular system.


What is Dan Shen Used For?

dan shen root


Aside from its cardiovascular benefits, Dan Shen is used for a variety of other health issues. These include:


  • Menstrual Disorders: Dan Shen can help alleviate menstrual pain and regulate cycles due to its blood-moving properties.
  • Liver Health: It is often used to treat liver conditions like hepatitis and jaundice, as it promotes blood circulation and reduces inflammation in the liver.
  • Skin Health: Applied topically, Dan Shen can help heal wounds and improve skin health due to its anti-inflammatory and antioxidant properties.
  • Insomnia and Anxiety: The calming effects of Dan Shen make it a popular choice for treating stress-related disorders such as insomnia and anxiety.


Zuma Nutrition’s Heart Support Tonic


We use Dan Shen as one of the primary ingredients in our Heart Support Tonic. This formula is a therapeutic active ingredient extract blend that contains a carefully selected mixture of herbal ingredients renowned for their ability to support heart health. While this formula may support cardiovascular health and be a valuable part of a heart health protocol, it is important to consult with your healthcare provider before use to ensure it is right for you.


Scientific Research on Dan Shen


Numerous studies have explored the health benefits of Dan Shen, particularly its cardiovascular effects. Research indicates that compounds in Dan Shen can help protect against myocardial ischemia, a condition where blood flow to the heart is reduced, causing oxygen deprivation in heart tissues. Additionally, Dan Shen's ability to improve blood circulation has been supported by clinical studies, suggesting its potential in managing heart diseases.


Safety and Considerations


While Dan Shen is generally considered safe for most people, it is important to consult with a healthcare provider before starting any new herbal supplement, especially for those who are pregnant, breastfeeding, or on medication. Dan Shen can interact with certain medications, including blood thinners and antiplatelet drugs, due to its blood-thinning properties.




Dan Shen, or Red Sage, is a powerful herb with a long history of use in traditional Chinese medicine, particularly for heart health. Its benefits extend beyond cardiovascular wellness, offering antioxidant, anti-inflammatory, and blood lipid-regulating effects. It has also been used traditionally for liver health, skin health, insomnia, anxiety, and menstrual disorders. As research continues to unfold, the full potential of Dan Shen in modern medicine may provide even more promising avenues for health and well-being. However, as with any herbal remedy, it is important to consult with a healthcare professional before use to ensure it is safe for you and best for your particular needs.




1 https://www.utep.edu/herbal-safety/herbal-facts/herbal%20facts%20sheet/dan-shen.html

2 https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3135424/

3 https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC7533016/

4 https://www.who.int/news-room/fact-sheets/detail/hypertension

5 https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4913020/

6 https://www.tandfonline.com/doi/full/10.1080/13880209.2022.2152059

7  https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC5551541/

8 https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC5805548/

9 https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC10095470/

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