Danshen: an overview of its chemistry, pharmacology, pharmacokinetics, and clinical use

J Clin Pharmacol. 2005 Dec;45(12):1345-59. doi: 10.1177/0091270005282630.


Danshen, the dried root of Salvia miltiorrhiza, has been widely used in China and, to a lesser extent, in Japan, the United States, and other European countries for the treatment of cardiovascular and cerebrovascular diseases. In China, the specific clinical use is angina pectoris, hyperlipidemia, and acute ischemic stroke. The current review covers its traditional uses, chemical constituents, pharmacological activities, pharmacokinetics, clinical applications, and potential herb-drug interactions based on information obtained in both the English and Chinese literature. Although numerous clinical trials have demonstrated that certain Danshen products in China are effective and safe for the treatment of cardiovascular diseases, most of these lack sufficient quality. Therefore, large randomized clinical trials and further scientific research to determine its mechanism of actions will be necessary to ensure the safety, effectiveness, and better understanding of its action.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Abietanes
  • Angina Pectoris / drug therapy
  • Animals
  • Benzofurans / pharmacokinetics
  • Benzofurans / pharmacology
  • Drugs, Chinese Herbal* / adverse effects
  • Drugs, Chinese Herbal* / chemistry
  • Drugs, Chinese Herbal* / pharmacology
  • Drugs, Chinese Herbal* / therapeutic use
  • Fibrinolytic Agents* / adverse effects
  • Fibrinolytic Agents* / chemistry
  • Fibrinolytic Agents* / pharmacology
  • Fibrinolytic Agents* / therapeutic use
  • Herb-Drug Interactions
  • Humans
  • Hyperlipidemias / drug therapy
  • Lactates / pharmacokinetics
  • Lactates / pharmacology
  • Phenanthrenes / pharmacokinetics
  • Phenanthrenes / pharmacology
  • Phenanthrolines* / adverse effects
  • Phenanthrolines* / chemistry
  • Phenanthrolines* / pharmacology
  • Phenanthrolines* / therapeutic use
  • Plant Extracts
  • Randomized Controlled Trials as Topic
  • Salvia miltiorrhiza
  • Stroke / drug therapy


  • Abietanes
  • Benzofurans
  • Drugs, Chinese Herbal
  • Fibrinolytic Agents
  • Lactates
  • Phenanthrenes
  • Phenanthrolines
  • Plant Extracts
  • tanshinone
  • 3,4-dihydroxyphenyllactic acid
  • dan-shen root extract
  • salvianolic acid B