Salvia miltiorrhiza and Salvia Species:identification,traditional use,application research of Radix Salvia miltiorrhiza and its useful fraction components.
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Status of Salvia In Ancient Chinese Medicine:Radix Salvia miltiorrhiza as the heart-mind stimulator.:
The Chinese name for salvia, danshen, carries much meaning. Here, dan is the term used to describe cinnabar (dansha; sha = sand, depicting the small crystals of the mineral); in this context dan refers, in part, to the deep red color of salvia roots, which are likened to the color of cinnabar. Beyond the color, however, using this name for salvia may have been intended to convey the high value of the herb, since cinnabar has long been regarded as the premier substance of Chinese medicine. Red colors in Chinese herbs are usually described by the term hong (as in honghua: carthamus), or by chi (as in chishao: red peony); purple might also apply (zi; salvia is sometimes called zidanshen); so using dan is a rather unique designation. Shen refers to ginseng (renshen; ren = man, alluding to the man-shaped roots), long regarded as the most highly respected herb in China (see: The meaning of shen in renshen). Only about a dozen herbs, most of them deemed suitable as substitutes for ginseng, have been given the name hen.
Salvia first appeared in the Shennong Bencao Jing (ca. 100 A.D.); in that text, the highest position for all medicinal materials was held by cinnabar and the highest position for all herbs was ginseng (and the mushroom ganoderma). Here are the descriptions of properties of cinnabar, ginseng, and salvia:
Salvia is bitter and slightly cold. It is nontoxic, treating mainly evil qi in the heart and abdomen, continual gurgling of the intestines like water running, cold and heat, and gatherings and accumulations. It breaks concretions and eliminates conglomerations, relieves vexatious fullness, and boosts the qi.
It is evident that salvia does not have the same level of desirable properties nor broad uses as do cinnabar and ginseng. Like ginseng, it is said to treat evil qi, and like cinnabar, it boosts the normal qi (an effect noted for ginseng in all later texts). The original Tianwang Buxin Dan formulation includes all three: ginseng, cinnabar, and salvia; the "dan" in the formula name refers to pills containing cinnabar (modern versions of the formula often delete cinnabar because of concerns about mercury, its main active component). Each of these three herbs were traditionally considered important for treating disorders of the heart, as applies to mental functions, and for treating hot swellings (all have a slightly cold nature). Thus, salvia was described in the Rihuazi Bencao (713 A.D.) this way:
Salvia nourishes the heart (mind), reinforces the will power, unblocks the guan pulse, and cures goiter and pyrogenic infections [fire toxins].
- 1.Salvia miltiorrhiza and Salvia Species:identification,traditional use,application research of Radix Salvia miltiorrhiza and its useful fraction components.
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