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April 2017--Red Sage

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Red Sage

By Raffi Kojian - http://Gardenology.org, CC BY-SA 3.0, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=12735638


Salvia miltiorrhiza


Family: Labiatae 

Pharmaceutical name: Radix Salviae Militiorrhizae 

Names: Chinese red sage, red root sage, kinesisk salvie, Dan Shen, chi dan shen, zue dan shen (Chinese); tanjin (Japanese; tansam (Korean) 

Description:  A hardy perennial growing to 32 inches with toothed, oval leaves and clusters of purple flowers.  Native to China, red sage is now cultivated in northeastern China and Inner Mongolia. 

Cultivation: it requires moist sandy soil and is propagated by root division in spring.  The root is harvested from late autumn through to early spring.   

History:  The English translation of dan shen is “cinnabar root” 

Constituent: tanshinones I, IIa, IIb, cryptotanshinone, isotanshinone I, isotanshinone II, isocryptotanshinone, miltirone, tanshinol I, tanshinol II, methyl tanshinonate, hydrozytanshinone IIb, salviol, protocatechuic aldehyde, protocatechuic acid, Vitamin E, Volatile oil 

Properties: circulatory tonic, dilates the blood vessels, sedative, antibacterial 

Energetics: bitter, slightly cold 

Meridians/Organs affected: heart, pericardium, liver 

Medicinal Uses:  There has been extensive research into dan shen in China, and the tanshinones have been shown to have a profound effect on the coronary circulation, reducing the symptoms of angina and improving heart function.  The whole herb (rather than isolated constituents) has been used in China to assist patients who are recovering from a heart attack, and it appears to support heart function at this critical time.  Clinical trials in China, however, have shown that dan shen is most effective when taken as a preventive, rather than as a a remedy after the heart attack has taken place.  Dan shen is known to inhibit the action of tubercle bacillus.
Dan shen has been esteemed by the Chinese for thousands of years as a circulatory stimulant.  Life hawthorn, it is a safe effective remedy for many circulatory problems.  It particularly benefits the coronary circulation, opening up the arteries and improving blood flow to the heart, and is therefore helpful in treating coronary heart disease.  Although it does not lower blood pressure, dan shen relaxes the blood vessels and improves circulation throughout the body.  Dan shen is used traditionally to treat conditions caused by blood stagnation, primarily those affecting the lower abdomen, such as absent or painful menstrual periods and fibroids.  The sedative action of dan shen helps calm the nerves, and it is therefore helpful in treating angina, a condition made worse by anxiety and worry.  Palpitations, insomnia and irritability also benefit from dan shen’s sedative properties.  Dan shen is a soothing remedy that is used to remove “excess heat,” particularly in the heart and liver.  It can also alleviate inflammatory skin problems, such as abscesses, boils, and sores. 

            Research: In one series of 323 patients given a preparation of dan shen for 1-9 months, there was marked clinical improvement in 20.3% and improvement in 62% of the cases.  Results were best in cases of coronary artery disease without a history of myocardial infarction.  In another clinical series of more than 300 patients with angina pectoris, a combination of dan shen and jiang xiang, given either intramuscularly or intravenously, improved the symptoms in approximately 82% and the ECGs in 50% of the cases.
Tinctures of dan shen were the principal treatment in 34 cases of thromboangiitis obliterans.  Of these, 15 were clinically cured and nine showed significant improvement.  There was a low incidence of pruritus, stomach pain, and reduced appetite.
In clinical studies, injections of dan shen have lowered the serum cholesterol levels in some patients.  Preparations of dan shen had a significant sedative effect on white mice and prolonged the hypnotic effect of barbiturates.  Injection of decoctions of dan shen at doses of 0.5g/kg had a hypoglycemic effect lasting as long as five hours.  Its product, Fufang Danshen Diwan, extracting curative ingredients mainly from the herbal plant, is now available in 16 African countries and becomes the first Chinese herbal medicine approved by the Food and Drug Administration for clinical tests in the United States.
Tincture is used to treat angina and other circulatory problems
Decoction for painful menstrual periods, take ½ cup up to 3 times a day

To mobilize blood and disperse effusion, to sedate, to drain pus, to stop pain 

Indications:  Invigorates the blood and breaks up blood stasis: for blood stasis disorders in the lower abdomen such as dysmenorrhea, amenorrhea, palpable masses, lochioschesis, and pain due to blood stasis.  It is also used for blood stasis obstructing the chest with chest or epigastric pain, as well as soreness in the ribs or hypochondria due to constrained Liver qi with blood stasis.  Clears heat and soothes irritability: especially useful for restlessness, irritability, palpitations, and insomnia due to heat entering the nutritive level.  It can also be used in patterns of Heart and Kidney yin deficiency.

Effects: Promotes circulation; dissolves clots; refrigerant to blood; tonic to blood; sedative 

Combinations: With Dang quai (Angelica sinensis) for irregular menstruation and lochioschesis
With ru xiang (Boswellia carterii) for pain and swelling due to blood stasisWith tan xiang (Santalum album) and sha ren (Amomum villosum) for pain in the chest, epigastrium, and abdomen due to stagnant qi and blood stasis
With mu dan pi (Paeonia suffruticosa) and sheng di huang (Rehmannia glutinosa) for high fever, irritability, subcutaneous bleeding, spitting of blood, and nosebleed associated with heat injuring the nutritive level in a warm-febrile disease
With suan zao ren (Ziziphus spinosa) and bai zi ren (Biota orientalis) for palpitations and insomnia due to Heart blood deficiency.
With Gua lou (Trichonsanthes kirilowii) and chuan shan jia (anteater scales) for breast abscess and other sores and swellings of the skin 

Contraindications: Use with caution in cases without blood stasis.  Incompatible with li lu (Veratrum nigrum)   Use with caution in those taking anticoagulant and antiplatelet drugs, for those with a bleeding tendency.  

Dosage:  6-15 g.  When used alone or in treating vasculitis, up to 60g may be prescribed.  Frying in wine enhances its blood-invigorating properties.  Large doses should not be prescribed for patients with a bleeding diathesis.  Good quality is coarse and purplish black inside with small white spots. 

Shih hsiao tang (
laughter decoction for peptic ulcers)
10 g cattail, 12 g Mastic tree, 12 g Balsamodendron myrrha, 12 g Salvia miltiorhiza, 15 g Angelica sinensis, 10 g Corydalis ambigua, 6 g Gynura pinnatifida
two doses, on an empty stomach; powder: infusion; 4 g in hot water three times daily, on an empty stomach 

Chinese Herbal Medicine Materia Medica, Dan Bensky & Andrew Gamble, Eastland Press, 1993; ISBN: 0-939616-15-7
The Encyclopedia of Medicinal Plants
A Manual of Chinese Herbal Medicine
, Warner J. W. Fan, MD, Shambhala, 1996, ISBN: 1-57062-147-1 

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