Dan Shen

Radix Salvia miltiorrhiza, Red Sage Root


Internal administration: decoction of 5 to 15g, large dosages can reach up to 30g. 5:1 concentrated extract: 1 to 3 grams/day; (6 grams/day in large-dose use).


LD50 (mice/intraperitoneal injection): 36.7 ± 3.8g/kg. (1)

Chemical Composition

Tanshinone I, IIA, IIB, V, VI; Cryptotanshinone; Isotanshinone I, II; Hydroxytanshinone; Methyl tanshinonate; Methylenetanshinuinone; Miltirone; Przewatanshinquinone Aprzewaquinone; Dihydrotanshinone I; Tanshinol I, II, III; Nortanshinone, 1, 2, 15; 16-tetrahydrotanshiquinone; Isocryptotanshinone; Tanshiquinone A, B, C; Methine tanshiquinone; Salviol; Tanshialdehyde; Danshensu; Protocatechualdehyde; Rosmarinic acid; Lithospermic acid; Caffeic acid; Salvianic acid A, B, C, D, E, F, G; Isoferulic acid; Protocatechuic acid; Baicalin; b-sitosterol; Ursolic acid; Daucosterol; Vitamin E; Tannin. (2) , (3) , (4) , (5) , (6) , (7) , (8) , (9)

Inorganic Chemicals

It also contains various trace elements, such as Cu, Zn, Ni, Fe, Mn, Se, Co, As, Ti, K, Na, and Ca.


Dan Shen is prohibited in patients suffering from profuse menstruation and lack of blood stasis. Pregnant women should use with caution. Dan Shen injection, decoction, and its composite tablets can cause allergic reactions, including pruritus, headache, asthma, palpitations, fever or restlessness, vomiting, diarrhea, abdominal pain, and cough. Common signs of allergic reactions are urticaria, asthma, hypotension, arrhythmia, local edema, and herpes labialis. (10) , (11) , (12) , (13) , (14) , (15)


Anti-myocardial ischemia

Dan Shen can decrease the magnitude of abnormal ST changes in the electrocardiogram of myocardial infarction in rabbits, reduce the occurrence of pathological Q waves, inhibit the formation of lipoperoxides, and decrease the severity of myocardial necrosis. (16)

Protecting the lung

Dan Shen has protective and therapeutic effects on rats with acute respiratory distress syndrome (ARDS). In rats with ARDS, Dan Shen inhibits hyperactivity of alveolar macrophage, decreasing the secretion of tumor necrosis factor Alfa and interleukin-1. (17)

Effects on the liver

Dan Shen extract can improve liver tissue injuries and reduce the magnitude of fibrosis in rats with CCl4 and DMN (dimethylnitrosamine)-induced hepatic fibrosis. Dan Shen can also decrease the hypoxanthine and MDA (malondialdehyde) levels in the liver tissue. (18) Administered at 3ml, Dan Shen injections can effectively protect rats from passive smoking-induced liver function changes. It is speculated that this effect of Dan Shen may have been achieved by its potential anti-oxygen free radical properties. (19)

Anti-neoplastic effects

In vitro experiments show that at 10 ml/ml, Dan Shen can inhibit K562 and BCaP-37 tumor cells with an inhibition rate of 70 to 80%; for K562 cells, Dan Shen’s IC50 is 7.5 ml/ml, and for BCaP-37 cells, its IC50 is 6.96ml/ml. (20)

Anti-free radicals

Experiments show that Dan Shen injections can decrease the MDA levels and increase the SOD levels in the blood and spinal tissues of rabbits with spinal injuries. (21)

Promoting healing of wounds

By optimizing the ratio of NO and ET, Dan Shen can decrease the synthesis of ET and NO, increase surface tissue activity in rats with second degree scalding injuries, and lessen early-stage injury progression, thus promoting injury recovery. (22)

Effects on vascular smooth cell migration

Experiments show that in rats whose proliferation of vascular smooth cells has been inhibited by hydroxycarbamide, Dan Shen can inhibit vascular smooth cell migration induced by bovine serum of newborn calves. Dan Shen can also inhibit cell migration-related bone protein gene expression, and decrease the activity of creatine kinase. (23)

Effects on the production of osteoclasts

At 1.0g/L, Dan Shen can inhibit the production of osteoclasts in in-vitro bone marrow cell cultures. It mainly inhibits the transformation of osteoclast metrocytes into mature osteoclasts. (24)

Anti-cell injury

Dan Shen extract can delay the lowering of survival rate of gastric mucosa chief cells, increase lactic dehydrogenase transudation, and raise the level of free calcium in cells. (25)

Promoting cognitive function

Administered to rats, with a single temporal line ischemic injury, by an intraperitoneal injection at 10g/kg, Dan Shen can shorten the time it takes the subjects to react and find a solution in Morris labyrinth. Dan Shen also notably reduces the volume of temporal line infarct and the expression of HSP32. (26)

Effects on the phenotype of fibroblasts

A 0.2% Dan Shen solution can promote the fusiform to squamous transformation of fibroblasts and increase the number of fibroblasts and collagen synthesis. (27)

Effects on pancreatitis

Administered to rats with biliary pancratitis at 5g/kg, Dan Shen injections can reduce Ca2+ concentrations in pancreatic acinar cells and lessen the extent of pancreatic injury. (28)

Effects on stellate cells’ proliferation and apoptosis

In-vitro experiments show that Dan Shen can inhibit the proliferation of stellate cells and promote apoptosis of in vitro-cultivated stellate cells. (29)

Protecting human osteoblasts from ischemia-reperfusion injuries

Experiments show that pre-treatment with Dan Shen can increase the survival rate of human osteoblasts in ischemia-reperfusion. (30)


  1. Yin Jian, et al. Clinical Application and Modern Research on Chinese Herbs. 1994.
  2. Qian Ming, et al. Active components of Dan Shen (I): The chemical structure of tanshinone IIA, sodium sulfonate, and methylenetanshiquinone. Journal of Chemistry. 1978;(3):199.
  3. Kong De Yun. The chemical composition of Dan Shen. China Journal of Medicinal Industry. 1989;20(6):279-285.
  4. Li Jing, et al. Determining water soluable phenols and acids with thin layer scanner. Journal of Pharmacy. 1993;28(7):543-547.
  5. Li Tao Shi, et al. Dan Shen: Composition, preparations, and quality control. Journal of Nanjin University of TCM. 1998;14(4):225-256.
  6. Rui Jian Zhong, et al. Separating Dan Shen’s water-soluble components by capillary electorphoresis: protocatechualdehyde and protocatechuic acid. Journal of Chinese Materia Medica. 2000;25;31(5):337-340.
  7. Zhou Chang Xin, et al. The chemical composition of Dan Shen’s water-soluble components. Journal of University of Pharmacology of China. 1999;30(6):411-416.
  8. Huang Yan Mo, et al. Trace elements in five herbs from different regions of Shan Dong. Shandong Journal of TCM. 1992;11(4):36-37.
  9. Chen Xin, et al. The chemical composition of Dan Shen: Dan Shen from Si Chuan Zhong Jiang vs. from other places. China Journal of Chinese Medicine. 1997;22(9):522-524.
  10. Yang Ru Lan. Allergic skin rashes caused by IV injection of Dan Shen. Sichuan Journal of TCM. 1984;2(4):61.
  11. Xia Qian Ming, et al. 19 cases of allergic reaction to Dan Shen. China Journal of Integrated Medicine. 1992;12(3):180-181.
  12. Liu Yan Fang, et al. Analysis of 30 cases of Dan Shen induced allergic reaction. Journal of Comprehensive Clinical Medicine. 1984;2(4):61.
  13. Yin Xiao Xing. Two cases of Dan Shen-induced diarrhea. China Journal of Integrated Medicine. 1996;10(3):7.
  14. Xie Xiao Quan, et al. One case of high concentration Dan Shen solution-induced bradycardia and hypotension shock. China Journal of Integrated Medicine. 1993;13(9):527.
  15. Ju Shao Hua. One case of asthma caused by Dan Shen. Journal of Haerbin Univesity of Medicine. 1994;28(6):445.
  16. Wei Xing, et al. Dan Shen’s effects on experimental cardiac ischemia in rabbits. Journal of Hengyang Medical College. 1999;27(4):383-385.
  17. Lu Qing, et al. Dan Shen’s protective and therapeutic effect on the lung of rats of ARDS and its regulatory effect on alveolar macrophage’s secretion of TNF. China Journal of Emergency Medicine. 1999;(10)7-10.
  18. Hu Yi Yang, et al. Dan Shen extract’s effect on CCl4- and DMN-induced liver fibrosis in rats. Shanghai Journal of Traditional Chinese Medicine and Herbs. 1999;(10):7-10.
  19. Gan Ping, et al. Dan Shen’s effect on passive smoking induced liver function changes in rats. Journal of Tianjing University of Medicine. 1999;5(4):30-31.
  20. Li Xu Fen, et al. In vitro anti-tumor effects of Dan Shen and Dan Shen compound injection. Zhejiang Journal of Integrated Medicine. 1999;9(5):291-292.
  21. Xu Xiang, et al. Free radical changes after spinal injury and Dan Shen’s effect on free radicals. 1999;12(5):16-18.
  22. Yan Ze, et al. Dan Shen’s effect in increasing trauma surface tissue activity in severe scalding. Journal of Modern Integrated Medicine. 1999;8(7):1042-1044.
  23. Shi Ying, et al. Dan Shen’s effect on vascular smooth muscle cells migration in rats. Journal of Heart, Lung and Vascular Diseases. 1999;18(3):216-218.
  24. Ding Yan, et al. Dan Shen’s effect on the formation of osteoclasts in bone marrow culture. Journal of Applied Stomatology. 1999;15(1):10-11.
  25. Zhou Ping, et al. Dan Shen extract F’s protective effect on stomach mucosa chief cells. China Journal of Pathology and Physiology. 1999;15(10):931-933.
  26. Jiang Shu Jun, et al. Dan Shen’s effect on rats’ spatial cognition after temporal line infarction and on the expression of HSP32. Journal of Apoplexy and Other Nervous Diseases. 1999;16(5):257-259.
  27. Li Jing Ce, et al. Dan Shen’s effect on the phenotype of fibroblasts. Journal of Jining Medical College. 1999;22(4):12-13.
  28. Qin Ren Yi, et al. Dan Shen’s preventive and therapeutic effects on biliogenic pancreatitis. Chinal Journal of Experimental External Medicine. 2000;08;17(4):333-334.
  29. Ma Xue Mei, et al. Dan Shen’s effect on stellate cells’ proliferation and apoptosis. China Journal of TCM Information. 2000;08;17(4):333-334.
  30. Wang Fu Sheng, et al. Dan Shen’s protective effects on human osteoblast injury due to ischemia-reperfusion. China Journal of Modern Medicine. 2000;10(5):1-3.