Chinese Name: Dan shen
Medical Name: Radix Salviae
Latin Name: Salvia miltiorrhiza
Origin: Dried root or root stem
Taste: Bitter

Quotes from Chinese historical sources

THE HERBAL CLASSIC OF SHEN-NONG: "Removes pathogenic factors from the chest and abdomen, resolves and removes cysts and lumps and relieves restlessness and the sensation of fullness."

RI HUAZI MATERIA MEDICA: "Cultivates the mind, calms emotional strain, eases joint movements, frees the passage of blood in the vessels, promotes the discharge of pus to kill pain, and promotes tissue regeneration."

Western Research

Am J Chin Med. 2007;35(1):153-68.
Antiviral Effects of Salvia miltiorrhiza (Danshen) Against Enterovirus 71.
Wu BW, Pan TL, Leu YL, Chang YK, Tai PJ, Lin KH, Horng JT.
Department of Biochemistry, Chang Gung University, Taoyuan 333, Taiwan, ROC.
In this study, the antiviral activities of seven different extracts of Salvia miltiorrhiza (danshen) were determined. The first two extracts, SA1 and SA2, isolated at room temperature by ethyl acetate and water extraction, respectively, neutralized the enterovirus 71-induced cytopathic effect in Vero, rhabdomyosarcoma and MRC-5 cells. The other five crude extracts, extracted with warm water (60-70 degrees C) or organic solvents, did not have any protective activity. The 50% inhibitory concentrations for neutralizing the enterovirus 71-induced cytopathic effect were 0.742 +/- 0.042 mg/ml for SA1 and 0.585 +/- 0.018 mg/ml for SA2 in Vero cells. No antiviral activity was observed in the other viruses tested. Antiviral activity was more efficient in cultures treated with SA1 or SA2 during viral infection compared to the cultures treated before or after infection, suggesting that these danshen extracts could interfere with viral entry. SA1 and SA2 were able to inhibit viral RNA synthesis in the infected cells and to abate the apoptotic process in enterovirus 71-infected Vero cells. We conclude that danshen extracts possess antiviral activity and have potential for the development as an anti-enterovirus 71 agent.

Hepatobiliary Pancreat Dis Int. 2006 Nov;5(4):501-4.
Progress in research into the mechanism of Radix salviae miltiorrhizae in treatment of acute pancreatitis.
Zhang XP, Li ZJ, Liu DR.
Department of General Surgery, Hangzhou First People's Hospital, Hangzhou 310006, China.
BACKGROUND: Acute pancreatitis (AP) is a common acute abdomen with high mortality, multiple complications and complicated causes. There is no effective therapy for AP. Radix salviae miltiorrhizae (Danshen), a traditional herbal medicine, has a low price and a wide range of clinical applications. It is effective to promote blood flow, eliminate stagnancy, and relieve pain. It is also found to be effective in treating AP. We reviewed the progress in research into the mechanism of Radix salviae miltiorrhizae in treatment of AP. DATA SOURCES: An English-language literature search was conducted using MEDLINE (1988-2005) on Radix salviae miltiorrhizae (Danshen) and acute pancreatitis. RESULTS: The mechanisms of Danshen in the treatment of AP include improvement of microcirculatory disturbances; elimination of oxygen free radicals; modulation of the metabolism of lipid inflammatory mediator; and blocking of calcium inflow and prevention of calcium overload. CONCLUSION: Danshen can effectively reduce the mortality and complications of AP.

Zhong Xi Yi Jie He Xue Bao. 2007 Jan;5(1):28-31.
Effects of Salvia miltiorrhiza on serum levels of inflammatory cytokines in patients with severe acute pancreatitis [Article in Chinese]
Peng GL, Zhang XY.
Department of Gastroenterology, Yingtan 184 Hospital, Yingtan, Jiangxi Province 335000, China.
OBJECTIVE: To study the effects of Salvia miltiorrhiza on serum levels of cytokines including interleukin-6 (IL-6), interleukin-8 (IL-8) and tumor necrosis factor-alpha (TNF-alpha) in patients with severe acute pancreatitis (SAP). METHODS: Thirty-six SAP patients were randomly divided into Salvia miltiorrhiza-treated group and non-Salvia miltiorrhiza-treated group with eighteen patients in each group. Fourteen age-matched healthy volunteers were assigned to control group. Serum levels of IL-6, IL-8, and TNF-alpha were tested within 24 hours of admission and 7 days after admission. RESULTS: Compared with those of the healthy volunteers, serum levels of the three cytokines of the SAP patients were significantly elevated (P<0.05). Serum levels of the three cytokines were significantly decreased in both Salvia miltiorrhiza-treated group and non-Salvia miltiorrhiza-treated group after 7-day treatment (P<0.05). The declining of the serum levels of the three cytokines in Salvia miltiorrhiza-treated group was more obvious than that in non-Salvia miltiorrhiza-treated group. CONCLUSION: Salvia miltiorrhiza can treat SAP patients by reducing the serum levels of IL-6, IL-8, and TNF-alpha.

Arch Pharm Res. 2006 Sep;29(9):762-7
Natural compounds from Danshen suppress the activity of hepatic stellate cells.
Oh SH, Cho KH, Yang BS, Roh YK.
Department of Family Medicine, Korea University, College of Medicine, Seoul, Korea.
Danshen is an herbal medication frequently used in oriental medicine to treat liver or kidney malfunction. In the course of our studies, we observed that compounds purified from Danshen exhibit an inhibitory activity against Discoidin Domain Receptor 2 (DDR2) tyrosine kinase. Through this inhibition, these compounds also inhibited the growth of HSC T6 cells and suppressed the expression of alpha-smooth muscle actin and MMP2, as well as collagen synthesis, all of which are increased in activated liver stellate cells. Given that activation of liver stellate cells is the hallmark of liver fibrosis and that DDR2 plays a critical role in this activation, these results suggest that one of the pharmacological activities of Danshen extract that protects the liver is the inhibition of key cell-signaling kinases, such as DDR2, in liver stellate cells.

Hua Xi Yi Ke Da Xue Xue Bao 2001 Dec;32(4):587-9
The effect of salvia miltiorrhiza and shengmai on inflammatory mediator and renal function of post-operative patients with obstructive jaundice [Article in Chinese]
Peng B, Du J, Jia Q, Qiao A, Wu Y, Liu X, Qiang Q.
Department of Surgery, First Affiliated Hospital, WCUMS, Chengdu 610041, China.
The post-operative use of salvia miltiorrhiza and shengmai for patients with obstructive jaundice may effectively decrease the postoperative levels of plasma LPs, ET, TNF-alpha, IL-6 and IL-8. At the same time, salvia miltiorrhiza and shengmai may protect renal function by inhibiting inflammatory mediator and improving blood dynamics.

Zhongguo Xiu Fu Chong Jian Wai Ke Za Zhi 2002 Nov;16(6):408-10
Effect of Salvia miltiorrhiza on autocrining growth factor by fibroblasts cultured in vitro [Article in Chinese]
Wang YM, Wei FK, Liu M.
Department of Pediatric Surgery, West China Hospital, Sichuan University, Chengdu Sichuan, P. R. China 610041.
Fibroblasts were cultured in vitro, and SM was applied at different concentrations and exposure times to influence their autocrine. The SM could inhibit autocrine of TGF-beta 1 by fibroblasts (P< 0.05). However, it did not affect autocrine of EGF (P > 0.05). CONCLUSION: The above results indicate that SM reduces overhealing by inhibiting the autocrine of TGF-beta 1 selectively.

Jpn J Pharmacol 2002 Nov;90(3):276-80
Inhibitory Effect of the Water-Soluble Extract of Salvia miltiorrhiza on Neutrophil-Endothelial Adhesion.
Ren de C, Du GH, Zhang JT.
Institute of Materia Medica, Chinese Academy of Medical Sciences and Peking Union Medical College.
The effect of the water-soluble extract (WSE) of Salvia miltiorrhiza on neutrophil-endothelial cell adhesion was investigated. The WSE of Salvia miltiorrhiza inhibited neutrophil-endothelial adhesion. The action mechanism of the WSE of Salvia miltiorrhiza was partly related to suppressing the expression of adhesion molecules.

World J Gastroenterol 2002 Jun;8(3):515-9
Salvia miltiorrhiza monomer IH764-3 induces hepatic stellate cell apoptosis via caspase-3 activation.
Zhang XL, Liu L, Jiang HQ.
Department of Gastroenterology The Second Hospital of Hebei Medical University Shijiazhuang 050000 Hebei Province China.
HSCs were cultured in medium with different IH764-3 doses and without IH764-3. HSC proliferation was quantitatively measured by (3)H-thymidine incorporation. Within the dose range used in present study IH764-3 can inhibit HSC proliferation as well as enhance HSC apoptosis. Furthermore IH764-3 can significantly increase the caspase-3 protein expression.

Circ J 2002 Feb;66(2):182-4
Cardiac effects of salvia miltiorrhiza/dalbergia odorifera mixture, an intravenously applicable Chinese medicine widely used for patients with ischemic heart disease in China.
Sugiyama A, Zhu BM, Takahara A, Satoh Y, Hashimoto K.
Department of Pharmacology, Yamanashi Medical University, Japan.
Chronotropic, inotropic and coronary vasodilator actions of the clinically available ampoule preparation of Salvia miltiorrhiza/Dalbergia odorifera mixture were examined using canine isolated, blood-perfused heart preparations. The results were quite similar to those of a typical calcium channel blocker, suggesting that the Salvia miltiorrhiza/Dalbergia odorifera mixture may have potential as an anti-anginal drug.

Zhongguo Zhong Xi Yi Jie He Za Zhi 2000 Dec;20(12):896-8
Effects of Salvia miltiorrhiza compound injection on serum endothelin, prostaglandin I2/thromboxane A2 ratio alteration following myocardial ischemia-reperfusion in patients undergoing intracardiac surgery [Article in Chinese]
Shi X, Xia Z, Fang J.
First Affiliated Hospital of Hubei Medical University, Wuhan 430060.
To investigate the effects of Salvia miltiorrhiza compound injection (SMCI) on serum endothelin (ET), prostaglandin I2(PGI2), thromboxane A2(TXA2), and PGI2/TXA2 ratio following myocardial ischemia-reperfusion in patients undergoing intracardiac surgery. SMCI can significantly reduce serum ET levels, raise PGI2/TXA2 ratio, thus facilitate the postoperative cardiac function recovery following intracardiac surgery under CPB.

Acta Pharmacol Sin 2000 Dec;21(12):1089-94
Salvia miltiorrhiza and ischemic diseases.
Ji XY, Tan BK, Zhu YZ.
Department of Pharmacology, Faculty of Medicine, National University of Singapore, 10 Kent Ridge Crescent, Singapore 119260.
In experimental studies DanShen dilated coronary arteries, increased coronary blood flow, and scavenged free radicals in ischemic diseases, so that it reduced the cellular damage from ischemia and improved heart functions. Clinical trials also indicated that DanShen was an effective medicine for angina pectoris, MI, and stroke.

Planta Med 1999 Oct;65(7):654-5
Inhibition of mast cell degranulation by tanshinones from the roots of Salvia miltiorrhiza
Ryu SY, Oak MH, Kim KM.
The activity-guided fractionation of the extract of the root of Salvia miltiorrhiza B. (Labiatae, Tanshen), led to the isolation of four active components responsible for the anti-allergic activity in vitro. Among them, 15,16-dihydrotanshinone-1 and cryptotanshinone demonstrated significant inhibition of the release of beta-hexosaminidase from cultured RBL-2H3 cells in a dose-dependent manner.