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Salvia Miltiorrhiza Helps Reduce Blood Pressure

Salvia miltiorrhiza, known in China as danshen, has been successfully used in Traditional Chinese Medicine to treat hypertension (high blood pressure) and other cardiovascular problems for hundreds of years.

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Salvia miltiorrhiza is widely used either alone or in combination with other herbs for patients with coronary artery disease and other cardiovascular diseases because it:

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  • improves blood circulation
  • relaxes and widens blood vessels, especially around the heart
  • suppresses the formation of thromboxane, which reduces blood clots from forming
  • inhibits platelet adhesion and aggregation, which also reduces blood clots from forming
  • protects against myocardial ischemia (a painful heart condition caused by lack of blood flow to the heart)1

Salvia miltiorrhiza helps reduce blood pressure

Although large clinical trials have not been done in the U.S., numerous studies have been done in China. One thing that has been well established is that Salvia is able to lower blood pressure in animals by inhibiting ACE (angiotensin converting enzyme), which causes blood vessels to narrow and blood pressure to increase.2

Is a potential remedy for angina

Scientific studies A recent study at the University of Hong Kong, China examined the effects of Salvia on laboratory animals with elevated blood pressure. The scientists found that one of the extracts in the herb reduced blood pressure more than placebo, and that its cardiovascular effects are actually more prominent when blood pressure is elevated.3

Researchers at the University of Traditional Chinese Medicine in Beijing, China divided 96 senile patients with high cholesterol into two groups. Fifty-six patients took Salvia and the 40 patients in the control group took red yeast rice (xuezhikang) capsules.

The Salvia supplement was superior to the control (red yeast rice) in reducing total cholesterol, LDL cholesterol (bad cholesterol), and factors that contribute to higher risk of blood clots (thromboxane and fibrinogen). The researchers concluded that Salvia was able to regulate metabolism of blood lipids, and support healthy vascular endothelial function and blood coagulation in this patient population.4

What is high blood pressure?

Hypertension and high blood pressure are the same exact thing. Hypertension is just the medical term for high blood pressure. It occurs when the force of blood passing through blood vessels is above normal. The increase in pressure forces the blood to hit the blood vessel walls.

Hypertension is usually a result of a combination of stress, high cholesterol, inflammation and sticky blood platelets. Insulin resistance—also known as metabolic syndrome—and too much body fat are major contributing factors, and heavy metal toxicity is another culprit.

Treating hypertension

Stress reduction, regular aerobic exercise, restful sleep, weight management and a whole foods diet are essential for maintaining cardiovascular health. A whole foods diet should include:

  • 6-8 glasses of purified water each day
  • fresh fruits and vegetables for healthy potassium, magnesium and calcium levels
  • lean, organic meat and poultry, for those who eat meat
  • salmon, and other cold-water fish for omega 3 fatty acids, or flax seed for vegetarians
  • nuts and seeds
  • olive oil and coconut oil

Medical doctors usually prescribe ACE inhibitors for high blood pressure. They work for a lot of people, but they also come with a long list of possible side effects, including dizziness, elevated blood potassium levels, cough, headache, drowsiness, weakness, rash, abnormal taste (metallic or salty). The worst, but rare side effects include kidney failure, allergic reactions and a decrease in white blood cells.5

For those who wish to avoid these side effects, Salvia miltiorrhiza is a natural and effective proven remedy and seems to be safe for most people.


Patients who take Coumadin (warfarin) or who have a bleeding disorder should not take Salvia miltiorrhiza.

Patients who take blood pressure medication should speak with their health care practitioner before taking Salvia.

Pregnant women and nursing mothers should play it safe and avoid taking Salvia.

Editor's Note:

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These articles are not intended to diagnose, treat, cure, or prevent any disease. Always consult with a physician before embarking on a dietary supplement program.


  1. Cheng TO. Cardiovascular effects of Danshen. Int J Cardiol. 2007 Sep 14;121(1):9-22. Epub 2007 Mar 23. 

  2. Kang DG, Yun YG, Ryoo JH, Lee HS. Anti-hypertensive effect of water extract of danshen on renovascular hypertension through inhibition of the renin angiotensin system. Am J Chin Med.2002;30(1):87-93.

  3. Leung SW, Zhu DY, Man RY. Effects of the aqueous extract of Salvia Miltiorrhiza (danshen) and its magnesium tanshinoate B-enriched form on blood pressure. Phytother Res. 2009 Nov 26. [Epub ahead of print] 

  4. Yang H, Han L, Sheng T, He Q, Liang J Effects of replenishing qi, promoting blood circulation and resolving phlegm on vascular endothelial function and blood coagulation system in senile patients with hyperlipemia. J Tradit Chin Med. 2006 Jun;26(2):120-4.

  5. Medicine ACE Inhibitors. 

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