Dan Shen common name: cinnabar root, red root sage, tan shen
Dan Shen is a type of mint plant that is a very hardy perennial (comes back every year). It is grown in parts of China, specifically Mongolia and Manchuria. This perennial can get to a height of 32 inches, has oval leaves and spikes of purple flowers as you can see in the photo.
The root of the plant is what is utlized in herbal medicine. Generally it is harvested from the fall through to the spring. It is rather coarse appearing, a little red with an inside that is purple to black. More importantly, it is used in herbal medicine as a tonic for heart and thyroid. It also supports the gall bladder and stimulates the production of bile.
It has been reported to have benefits in nerve health as it protect nerve cells from free radical damage. It contains a substance called tanshinone IIA which slows nerve impoulses within the heart thereby slowing pulses. Because of this it can treat angina, and atherosclerosis but NOT congestive heart failure where nerve impulses are needed to contract the heart. It can prevent the formation of blood clots and lower cholesterol. Certain fatty acids are beneficial in the body, especially the heart. Dan Shen can increase these levels. It is used in China for cardiovascular benefits in stroke.
Benefits Of Dan Shen In Health Conditions
Considerations For Use
Found in both tea and tincture forms, this herb should be used only under professional supervision.
Long term use of this herb can actually be harmful. The herb stimulates estrogen production and in the presence of uterine fibroids or other menstrual problems, may cause more harm than good. Do not use for more than 28 days at a time, followed by a 4 week break. Do not take this herb if you have an estrogen sensitive breast cancer.
Because of potential blood thinning properties, people taking Coumadin, warfarin, aspirin or any NSAIDS daily should not be using this herb. Dan shen could be quite dangerous in these cases, thin the blood too much and depending on your health and age, potentially cause a stroke. Please inform your medical provider and dentist before any procedures if you are taking this herb.
One last thing...as I have mentioned elswhere on this site, I only recommend organic herbs. At the present time, herbs from China are suspect due to high levels of arsenic in the groundwater, and the FDA is not regulating imports properly in my professional opinion. Therefore, unless you really need this herb and can find a US organic source, I would leave it alone.