Dan-shen Sage is a hardy, deciduous perennial that belongs to the mint family (Lamiaceae). Native to China, they can grow up to 3 -4 feet in height and have branching stems with widely spaced opposite leaves. The inflorescences are covered with hairs and sticky glands. The light purple or lavender-blue flowers grow in whorls, with corollas with a dark purple calyx.
Dan-shen is commonly used in traditional Chinese medicine (TCM) where it is known as Dan Shen. This stellar plant has been used as a medicinal herb for more than 2000 years! The Divine Husbandman’s classic text describes Dan Shen as an herb that invigorates the blood and was indicated in conditions resulting from circulatory congestion. Studies have shown that the tanshinones in the herb have a positive effect on the coronary artery of the heart resulting in diminished symptoms of angina pectoris, promotes enhanced cardiac function, and is considered a cardiac stimulant. The whole plant is sometimes used to help patients who are recovering from a heart attack or stroke. Dan-shen has been used to lessen stress and ease anxiety which in turn has a favorable effect on angina that is exacerbated by anxiety and stress.
Dan-shen is also used for menstrual disorders, diabetes, chronic liver disease, and insomnia caused by a rapid heartbeat and tight chest. The herb is regarded as antibacterial and anti-inflammatory and has been used as a remedy for skin conditions. Like other salvia plants, Dan Shen is very attractive to bees, butterflies and birds.