Dan Shen (Salviae miltiorrhizae Radix; Salvia root)
Nature: bitter / sly cold
Channel: HT, PC, LV
Dan Shen was less popular in classical herbal practice than it is in modern herbal medicine usage. This seems to follow the increase in coronary artery disease, which Dan Shen is very good at treating, that the modern world has seen with the rise of fast-food restaurants and food additives.
Dan Shen can both activate and nourish blood, and these functions change depending on the combination of herbs used. Dan Shen mainly treats the upper (HT) and middle Jiao (ST), and it also treats the blood vessels from a pharmaceutical standpoint.
Dan(丹) is like an Indian Chakara. The Indian system has seven Chakras, and there are three Dans in Oriental Medicine. The Lower Dan Tian is RN4, the middle Dan Tian is RN17, and the Upper Dan Tian is Yin Tang. Each of these areas are respectively related with Essence (lower), Qi (middle), and Spirit (upper). The "Dan" in Dan Shen indicates the middle Dan, which is RN17 and the Heart area.
1. Blood stasis in the Heart
Indications: Heart disease, coronary artery disease, congestive heart failure, and valvular disease of the Heart
Dan Shen treats blood stasis in the Heart. In animal testing, Dan Shen expanded the coronary arteries and slowed down the heartbeat. Thus, it can be a primary choice for some patients with angina pectoris or myocardial infarction. One of the top selling herbal products in China for Heart health is Cardiotonic Pill from the Tasly company. The major ingredients of that formula are Dan Shen (Salviae Mitiorrhizae), San Qi (Panax Notoginseng), Huang Qi (Astragalus membranaceus) and Jiang Xiang (Dalbergiae Odoriferae).
2. Blood stasis in the Stomach
Indications: gastric ulcer, atrophic gastritis
Chronic emotional stress can lead to Stomach disorders due to blood stasis. A chronic and overwhelmed state of stress blocks the blood flow from the Heart to the Spleen/Stomach, causing HT and SP disharmony. If the Stomach can't get a proper blood supply, it will atrophy and can cause gastritis or gastric ulcers. Dan Shen can remove blood stasis from the middle jiao and treat these conditions. Stomache due to blood stasis manifests as blue-purplish lips and sharp epigastric pain. Dan Shen 8g + Chi Shao 8g is a good herb combination for this condition.
3. Blood stasis in Gynecological disorders
Indications: dysmenorrhea, uterine fibroids, endometriosis, ovarian cysts, and oligomenorrhea
Dan Shen not only moves blood stasis but also gently nourishes blood. When both the sedation and tonification method must be applied, Dan Shen is a good choice. Therefore, it's good for dysmenorrhea for someone of a weak constitution rather than strong constitution. Dan Shen + Dang Gui Wei + Yi Mu Cao + Hong Hua is a combination that is used for that. For Cold in the uterus, wine-treated Dan Shen is used and combined with Gan Jiang + Rou Gui. For a deficient pattern of amenorrhea or anovulation, Dan Shen + Xiang Fu + Yi Mu Cao + Dang Gui are a combination that can be used rather than the stronger Tao Ren + Yan Hu Suo combinations.
4. Blood stasis in the blood vessels
Indications: Vasculitis, Buerger's disease, diabetes with peripheral circulatory complications, and hyperlipidemia
Dan Shen with Chen Pi + Xi Xin + Hong Hua is used for large or small blood vessel circulatory disorders. Blood vessel circulatory disorders often manifest as numbness of the hands or feet. Chen Pi's Qi regulating, Dan Shen + Hong Hua's blood circulating, and Xi Xin's peripheral vessel opening works well together. For hyperlipidema, Dan Shen + Su Mu + Hong Hua can be used together.
5. Blood stasis in psychiatric disorders
Indications: anxiety, palpitations, irritability, insomnia, excessive dreams, personality disorder, schizophrenia, and panic disorder
When psychiatric disorders get severe or chronic, it almost always creates Phlegm or Blood stasis. Especially in schizophrenic cases, one must distinguish if it's Phlegm misting the HT or Blood stasis in the HT. If a patient's symptoms manifest as palpitations, anxiety, irritability, insomnia, or panic, the tongue/lip must be looked at to determine which syndrome is prevalent. Dan Shen is a very good and safe sedative because it can repress the central nervous system. For these cases, Shi Chang Pu + Yuan Zhi + Fu Ling can be used together with Dan Shen. When Phlegm exists, Ban Xia + Dan Nan Xing are often used together.