Danshen herb and supplement health benefit by Ray Sahelian, M.D.
March 1 2014

Danshen is commonly used in China for the treatment of atherosclerosis-related disorders such as cardiovascular and cerebrovascular diseases. Research shows it also has immune enhancing properties. The demonstration of beneficial effects of salvia miltiorrhiza (DanShen) on ischemic diseases has revolutionized the management of angina pectoris, myocardial infarction or stroke in Chinese society. Click on the links provided for natural ways to treat these medical conditions. Experimental studies have shown that 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 it was an effective medicine for angina pectoris, MI, and stroke.

Danshen (Salvia miltiorrhiza Bunge and S. przewalskii Maxium) has tanshinones and related terpenoids.

Interactions with medications
Warfarin (Coumadin)— Danshen can affect hemostasis in several ways, including inhibition of platelet aggregation, interference with the extrinsic blood coagulation, antithrombin III-like activity, and promotion of fibrinolytic activity. Single-dose and steady-state studies in rats indicated that danshen increased the absorption rate constants, AUCs, maximum concentrations, and elimination half-lives, but decreased the clearances and apparent volume of distribution of both R- and S-warfarin. Consequently, the anticoagulant response to warfarin was exaggerated. Three cases have previously been published reporting gross overanticoagulation and bleeding complications when patients receiving chronic warfarin therapy also took danshen.

A small number of studies suggest that danshen may provide benefits for treating disorders of the heart and blood vessels, including chest pain, heart attacks, and ischemic stroke. 
For a list of herbs used in Chinese medicine, see Chinese Herbs.

Danshen Research
Fifteen tanshinone analogues isolated from the chloroform extract of Danshen roots (Salviae Miltiorrhizae) by chromatographic procedures were tested for their cytotoxic activities against KB, Hela, Colo-205 and Hep-2 carcinoma cell lines. Several of them were effective at concentrations below 1 micrograms/ml concentrations.

Water soluble extracts of the herbal plant, Salvia miltiorrhiza (Danshen) exhibited potent effect against HIV-1 integrase activity in vitro and viral replication in vivo.

Immunomodulatory effects of Yun Zhi and Danshen capsules in health subjects-a randomized, double-blind, placebo-controlled, crossover study.
The Chinese University of Hong Kong, Prince of Wales Hospital, Shatin, NT, Hong Kong.
Int Immunopharmacol. 2004.
Immunostimulating polysaccharides extracted from the Chinese medicinal plant Yun Zhi (Coriolus versicolor) have been found to enhance various immunological functions, and Danshen (Salvia miltiorrhiza) to show beneficial effects on the circulatory system. In the present clinical study, we investigated if regular consumption of Yun Zhi and Danshen capsules could improve cellular immunity in healthy subjects. One hundred healthy subjects were recruited to take Yun Zhi (50 mg/kg body weight) plus Danshen (20 mg/kg body weight) or placebo capsules daily for four successive months and, after a 2-month wash-out period, crossover to take placebo or Yun Zhi plus Danshen capsules for four successive months. Flow cytometry was used to assess the lymphocyte subtypes and concentration of T helper (Th) cell cytokines in culture supernatant. Gene expression of cytokines and cytokine receptors of peripheral blood mononuclear cells (PBMC) was analyzed by cDNA expression array. Results showed that regular oral consumption of Yun Zhi-Danshen capsules could significantly elevate PBMC gene expression of interleukin (IL)-2 receptor, increase the percentage and absolute counts of T helper cell and ratio of CD4(+) (T helper)/CD8(+) (T suppressor and cytotoxic T) cell, and significantly enhance the ex vivo production of typical Th1 cytokine interferon-gamma from PBMC activated by phytohemagglutinin and lipopolysaccharide. Such consumption had no adverse effects on liver and renal functions, and the biochemical bone profile. Therefore, regular consumption of Yun Zhi and Danshen could be beneficial for immunological functions by potential enhancement of cell-mediated immunity in healthy subjects without any adverse effects.

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Q. Is it safe to take danshen supplement along with
damiana herb? What about with a 5-htp supplement?
   A. We have not seen studies with these combinations
but in low dosages we don't expect any problems. Arginine supplement is used for nitric oxide production and we do not know if it will work well in those with blood vessel and heart problems.

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