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What is Dan Shen Root?

Malcolm Tatum
Updated Jan 23, 2024
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As an herb with a long history of use in Chinese medicine, the dan shen root is understood to be one of the most potent herbs when it comes to matters of circulation and cardiovascular health. Here is some background on the dan shen plant, and how the root is used in several forms to treat a number of ailments.

Properly known as Salvia miltiorrhiza, dan shen originates in the eastern section of Asia, particularly in the countries of Manchuria and Mongolia. The plant itself is a hardy perennial that is part of the mint family. Dan shen plants have oval shaped leaves that are lined with toothed edges along the borders, and clusters of purple flowers that bloom as harvesting time draws near. Generally, the plants are harvested during the autumn, with the harvest lasting until the early spring. The dan shen root is the portion that is set aside as one of the most potent medicinal herbs.

Once harvested, the dan shen root is often ground into a fine powder that may be taken as part of a tea or tincture, or administered in capsules. One of the more important aspects of its healing properties is understood to be in the strengthening and regulation of the heart. The root is though to provide assistance with circulation problems, helping to clear the arteries of blockages, ease palpitations, and treat the incidence of angina. Along with treatments for heart related issues, it is also thought to be effective in helping to ease the pain of menstrual cramps and in general help to make the monthly menstrual cycle less severe. Studies have been conducted on the impact of elements within the dan shen root that have to do with TCN, or trigeminal convergent neurons, with the body, which may lead to some additional applications for the plant and root.

Using the ground root to treat skin problems is also common. By adding the powder to a small amount of water, a thick paste is created. The paste is applied to blotches or bruises and left to dry. Purportedly, the paste is helpful with psoriasis, eczema, and even as a covering for small wounds. Along with use in treating skin conditions, many people who utilize herbal therapy will keep ground dan shen root around to deal with such minor stomach ailments, soothe irritability when the nerves are jangled, and act as a tonic for the blood when excess fatigue seems to be present.

WiseGEEK is dedicated to providing accurate and trustworthy information. We carefully select reputable sources and employ a rigorous fact-checking process to maintain the highest standards. To learn more about our commitment to accuracy, read our editorial process.
Malcolm Tatum
By Malcolm Tatum , Writer
Malcolm Tatum, a former teleconferencing industry professional, followed his passion for trivia, research, and writing to become a full-time freelance writer. He has contributed articles to a variety of print and online publications, including WiseGEEK, and his work has also been featured in poetry collections, devotional anthologies, and newspapers. When not writing, Malcolm enjoys collecting vinyl records, following minor league baseball, and cycling.

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Malcolm Tatum

Malcolm Tatum


Malcolm Tatum, a former teleconferencing industry professional, followed his passion for trivia, research, and writing...
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