Herb: Dan Shen

Latin name: Salvia multiorrhiza

Family: Labiatae

Medicinal use of Dan Shen:

Dan Shen has long been used in Chinese medicine and recent research has confirmed the validity of its use in the treatment of heart and circulatory problems. The root is adaptogen, alterative, anticholesterolemic, antirheumatic, antiseptic, antispasmodic, astringent, emmenagogue, hepatic, sedative, tonic and vulnerary. It acts mainly on the heart energy, removing excess heat and clearing stagnation. Its use improves the micro-circulation, increases blood flow to the coronary artery, improves myocardial contraction and adjusts the heart rate. It has an antibacterial action, inhibiting the growth of Pseudomonas, E. coli, Vibrio Proteus, Bacillus typhi, Shigella dysenteriae, Shigella flexneri, Staphylococcus aureus etc. It is used internally in the treatment of coronary heart disease, poor circulation, palpitations, irritability, insomnia, breast abscesses, mastitis, ulcers, boils, sores, bruises, menstrual problems and post-natal pains. "Praised for its alleged medicinal qualities, including a cure for cancer". The roots are harvested in the autumn and early winter and are dried for later use.

Description of the plant:


60 cm
(2 feet)

June to

Habitat of the herb:

Light woodland and clearings. Sunny sides of hills and stream edges.

Propagation of Dan Shen:

Seed - sow March/April in a greenhouse. Germination usually takes place within 2 weeks. Prick out the seedlings into individual pots when they are large enough to handle and plant them out in early summer. In areas where the plant is towards the limits of its hardiness, it is best to grow the plants on in a greenhouse for their first winter and plant them out in late spring of the following year. Cuttings of half-ripe wood succeed at almost any time in the growing season.

Cultivation of the herb:

Light woodland and clearings. Sunny sides of hills and stream edges.

Known hazards of Salvia multiorrhiza:

None known

Plant information taken from the Plants For A Future.