Dan Shen Herb
October 9, 2011
This website discusses the benefits and side effects of various supplements, herbs and drug products, including danshen. Different people may
experience different side effects and benefits of a product. Danshen has not been scientific studied thoroughly, you must consult with your doctor
before use it. You are encouraged to report adverse side effects to FDA, its website is
www.fda.gov., or report the adverse side effects to the
manufacturer. Reasonable care has been taken in preparing this document and the information provided herein is believed to be accurate. The
information is not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice. ALL RIGHTS RESERVED.
Dan Shen Herb AND Dang Shen Herb
Dang Shen is different from Dan Shen. Dang shen is known as Codonopsis pilosula (Chinese: 党参; pinyin: dǎngshēn)
or poor man's ginseng, while Dan Shen is known as Salvia miltiorrhiza (Chinese: 丹参; pinyin: dānshēn), Chinese sage,
tan shen, or danshen. [Wikipedia
Salvia miltiorrhiza; Codonopsis pilosula; October 9, 2011]. They both are herbs in
Traditional Chinese Medicine. The description of this article refers to Dan Shen Herb not Dang Shen.

Dan Shen Herb Information
Dan Shen (丹參; dānshēn), also known as Salvia miltiorrhiza, red sage, Chinese sage, tan shen, or danshen, is a
perennial plant in the genus Salvia, highly valued for its roots in traditional Chinese medicine. Native to China and
Japan, Dan Shen Herb grows at 90 to 1,200 m elevation, preferring grassy places in forests, hillsides, and along stream
banks. People use the Dan Shen Herb to make medicine.
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Traditional Uses of Dan Shen Herb
Dan Shen Herb has been used for treating chronic renal failure and to prevent and treat heart conditions and strokes in
Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM). The Dan Shen Herb is used with kudzu root for the treatment of coronary heart
disease. Danshen is also used for treating diabetes in TCM. Some people also use Dan Shen Herb for menstrual
disorders, chronic liver disease, rapid heartbeat, tight chest, acne, psoriasis and eczema.
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Key ingredients of Dan Shen Herb
Dan Shen Herb contains danshensu, protocatechuic aldehyde, salvianolic acid B, cryptotanshinone, tanshinone I and
tanshinone IIA. [6] Some writers consider Tanshinone 2A is the main consitituent of Dan Shen Herb, but actually, many
other ingredients of Dan Shen Herb are functional.
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Dan Shen Herb Benefits
Dan Shen herb benefits may have many, but clinical support is limited for most of its health claims. Here I highlight a few
studies on how its active ingredients may benefit our cardiovascular system. Dan Shen Herb has been wildly used to
treat cardiovascular diseases for hundreds of years in China. Animal studies have suggested that Dan Shen Herb may
have benefits of blood pressure lowering and anti-fibrinolytic activities. Further, it is capable to inhibit platelet
aggregation [1,2] Dan Shen Herb aqueous extract, and its ingredients such as danshensu, tanshinone,
dihydrotanshinone and salvianolic acid B are found to have vasorelaxant effects. [7-10] Salvianolic acids have potent
anti-oxidative capabilities. Its cardiovascular protection is related to its anti-oxidative activities, reduction of leukocyte-
endothelial adherence, inhibition of inflammation and indirect regulation of immune function. [A1] . Tanshinone II-A, a
key Dan Shen ingredient, decreased and stabilized atherosclerotic plaques in Apolipoprotein-E knockout (ApoE(-/-))
mice maintained on a high cholesterol diet. [A2] In a separate study, this Ddan Shan ingredient significantly improved
cardiac function and attenuated fibrosis in 2K2C hypertensive rats. The protective action of Tanshinone II-A is likely
mediated by its antioxidant effect, independent of BP control, partially via inhibiting NADPH oxidase. {A3]

Myocardial hypertrophy has been linked to the development of a variety of cardiovascular diseases, and is a risk factor
for myocardial ischemia, arrhythmias, and sudden cardiac death. Danshensu, another key ingredient of Dan Shen,
significantly decreased heart weight/body weight and left ventricular weight/body weight ratios in rats suffered from
myocardial hypertrophy. [A4] The efficacy of a Dan Shen dripping pill for secondary stroke prevention was evaluated in
patients with ischemic cerebrovascular disease. The Dan Shen treatment also contained Panax notoginseng and
Dryobalanops camphor. Recurrence in the patient group taking Dan Shen Herb was found to be lower than that in the
control group. [A5]

A recent study demonstrated the effect of danshen on diabetic nephropathy in an rat model. High levels of 24-h urinary
protein excretion as well as some other signs were reduced after a treatment of danshen (500 mg/kg) for 8 weeks.
[A14] A mixture of herbs - Gynostemma pentaphyllum, Coptis chinensis and Dan Shen prevented weight gain with
decreased visceral fat in rats suffered from metabolic syndrome. Further this danshen mixture significantly reduced
plasma triacylglycerols (triglycerides), and cholesterol. [A15]

Dan Shen decoction was found to accelerate the healing of ulcer induced by acetic acid, increased the content of
mucus and inhibited the formation of gastric ulcer in a study of mice. [4] Dan Shen root compounds increased HDL-
cholesterol and partially prevent the occurrence of osteoporosis in mice suffered from hyperlipemia-induced
osteoporosis.  [11]

Cancers
Danshen root extracts probably may have benefits on people suffered from certain cancers. Lots of in-vitro studies are
supporting this beneficial claim. But, clinical studies are needed to confirm the in vitro anti-cancer activities are
"transferable" to the human body.

Tanshinone IIA, a key ingredient of danshen, has been shown to have anti-cancer activities in test-tube. This danshen
ingredient exhibited dose-dependent and time-dependent anticancer effects on liver cancer BEL-7402 cells through
apoptosis and G(0)/G(1) arrest in the test-tube study. [A7] An earlier study, tanshinones in danshen were found to
inhibit the growth of prostate cancer cells in vitro and in mice. [A12]

Cryptotanshinone is a biologically active compound from the root of danshen. The anti-cancer activities of this danshen
ingredient is in synergy with tumor necrosis factor-alpha (TNF-α) for the induction of apoptosis in human chronic
myeloid leukemia (CML) KBM-5 cells. [A8] An earlier study, showed this danshen chemical anti-tumor effect on two
melanoma cell lines with low/high-metastatic capacity (B16/B16BL6). [A13]

Miltipolone, another danshen ingredient, was discovered as a good and broad-spectrum inhibitor against the growth of
cancer cells. It acts as a Fe(2+) chelator to conduct its inhibitory activity. [A9]

5,16-dihydrotanshinone I extracted from danshen root was found to be the most effective compound of danshen
extracts against breast cancer cells in a study. This danshen compound was also found to be able to induce apoptosis
of prostate carcinoma cells via induction of ER stress and/or inhibition of proteasome activity. [A10]

Another Dan Shen Herb active ingredient, Salvianolic acid B, significantly inhibited or delayed the growth of head and
neck squamous cell cancer (HNSCC) in both cultured HNSCC cells and HNSCC xenograft animal models, probably the
mechanism involved the inhibition of COX-2/PGE-2 pathway, the promotion of apoptosis, and the modulation of
angiogenesis. [A11]

Dan Shen was also found to strongly inhibit the proliferation of both breast cancer cells MCF-7 vec cells and MCF-7
HER2 cells. MCF-7 HER2 cells is related to the overexpression of HER2. HER2 is a receptor tyrosine kinase, and is
involved in signal transduction pathways leading to tumor cell proliferation. And, MCF-7 HER2 cells were more resistant
to the Danshen-induced inhibition of Akt phosphorylation and p27 up-regulation. [13]

Scientific evidence for Dan Shen benefit is insufficient, more studies are needed to prove danshen benefits.
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Danshen Side Effects and Safety
Danshen may lead to side effects such as itching, upset stomach, reduced appetite, drowsiness, dizziness, and
thrombocytopenia. For details, please, review:
Danshen
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Dan Shen Pian  Danshen Side Effects              
Reference
[1] Kang DG, et al. Anti-hypertensive effect of water extract of danshen on renovascular hypertension through inhibition of the renin
angiotensin system. Am J Chin Med. 2002;30(1):87-93. Zou ZW, et al. Antithrombotic and antiplatelet effects of rosmarinic acid, a water-
soluble component isolated from radix Salviae miltiorrhizae (danshen) Yao Xue Xue Bao. 1993;28(4):241-5.  [4] Liu L, Zhang HQ. Effects of
Danshen Decoction on experimental gastric ulcer in rats and mice, Zhong Xi Yi Jie He Xue Bao. 2005 Jan;3(1):35-8.  [7] Lam FF, et al.
Salvianolic acid B, an aqueous component of danshen (Salvia miltiorrhiza), relaxes rat coronary artery by inhibition of calcium channels.
Eur J Pharmacol. 2006 Dec 28;553(1-3):240-5. Epub 2006 Sep 23. [8] Kim DD, et al. Endothelial nitric oxide synthase is a molecular
vascular target for the Chinese herb Danshen in hypertension. Am J Physiol Heart Circ Physiol. 2007 May;292(5):H2131-7. Epub 2006 Dec
15. [9] Lam FF, et al. Relaxant effects of danshen aqueous extract and its constituent danshensu on rat coronary artery are mediated by
inhibition of calcium channels. Vascul Pharmacol. 2007 Apr;46(4):271-7. Epub 2006 Nov 18. [10] Lam FF, et al. Dihydrotanshinone, a
lipophilic component of Salvia miltiorrhiza (danshen), relaxes rat coronary artery by inhibition of calcium channels. J Ethnopharmacol.
2008 Sep 26;119(2):318-21. Epub 2008 Jul 18. [11] Zhang ZP, et al. Effect of Danshen root compound on blood lipid and bone
biomechanics in mice with hyperlipemia-induced osteoporosis Nan Fang Yi Ke Da Xue Xue Bao. 2008 Aug;28(9):1550-3. [12] Wu BW, et
al. Antiviral effects of Salvia miltiorrhiza (Danshen) against enterovirus 71. Am J Chin Med. 2007;35(1):153-68. [12] Yang W, et al, Danshen
(Salvia miltiorrhiza) extract inhibits proliferation of breast cancer cells via modulation of Akt activity and p27 level.Phytother Res. 2010 Feb;
24(2):198-204. [A1] Ho JH, et al, Salvianolic acids: small compounds with multiple mechanisms for cardiovascular protection. J Biomed
Sci. 2011 May 11;18:30. [A2] Xu S et al, Tanshinone II-A attenuates and stabilizes atherosclerotic plaques in Apolipoprotein-E knockout
mice fed a high cholesterol diet. Arch Biochem Biophys. 2011 Aug 26. [A3] Wang P, et al, Tanshinone IIA prevents cardiac remodeling
through attenuating NAD (P)H oxidase-derived reactive oxygen species production in hypertensive rats. Pharmazie. 2011 Jul;66(7):517-24.
[A4] Tang Y, et al Antioxidant and cardioprotective effects of Danshensu (3-(3, 4-dihydroxyphenyl)-2-hydroxy-propanoic acid from Salvia
miltiorrhiza) on isoproterenol-induced myocardial hypertrophy in rats. Phytomedicine. 2011 Sep 15;18(12):1024-30. [A5] Xu G. et al,
Danshen extracts decrease blood C reactive protein and prevent ischemic stroke recurrence: a controlled pilot study. Phytother Res. 2009
Dec;23(12):1721-5. [A7] Dai Zk et al, Tanshinone IIA activates calcium-dependent apoptosis signaling pathway in human hepatoma cells.
J Nat Med. 2011 Aug 19. [A8] Kim JH, et al, Cryptotanshinone enhances TNF-α-induced apoptosis in chronic myeloid leukemia KBM-5
cells. Apoptosis. 2011 Jul;16(7):696-707. [A9] Wang J et al, Identification, structural properties and chelating capacity of miltipolone as a
broad-spectrum inhibitor to cancer cells. Eur J Med Chem. 2011 Apr;46(4):1117-21. [A10] Chuang MT et al, 15,16-Dihydrotanshinone I, a
Compound of Salvia miltiorrhiza Bunge, Induces Apoptosis through Inducing Endoplasmic Reticular Stress in Human Prostate
Carcinoma Cells. Evid Based Complement Alternat Med. 2011;2011:865435. [A10] Chuang MT et al, 15,16-Dihydrotanshinone I, a
Compound of Salvia miltiorrhiza Bunge, Induces Apoptosis through Inducing Endoplasmic Reticular Stress in Human Prostate
Carcinoma Cells. Evid Based Complement Alternat Med. 2011;2011:865435. [A11] Zhao Y et al, Salvianolic Acid B, a potential
chemopreventive agent, for head and neck squamous cell cancer. J Oncol. 2011;2011:534548. [A12] Gong Y, et al, Bioactive tanshinones
in Salvia miltiorrhiza inhibit the growth of prostate cancer cells in vitro and in mice. Int J Cancer. 2011 Sep 1;129(5):1042-52. [A13] Chen L,
et al, Cryptotanshinone has diverse effects on cell cycle events in melanoma cell lines with different metastatic capacity. Cancer
Chemother Pharmacol. 2011 Jul;68(1):17-27. [A14] Lee SH et al, The protective effect of Salvia miltiorrhiza in an animal model of early
experimentally induced diabetic nephropathy. J Ethnopharmacol. 2011 Aug 11. [A15] Tan Y et al, Chinese herbal extracts (SK0506) as a
potential candidate for the therapy of the metabolic syndrome. Clin Sci (Lond). 2011 Apr;120(7):297-305.