Danshen (Salvia militiorrhiza) and gegen (Pueraria lobata) are herbs that have been used for a long time in the treatment of angina and cardiac symptoms in Chinese medicine. A study was done using a combination of danshen and gegen at 3 grams per day (unspecified ratio) in cardiac patients for 24 weeks. The authors theorized that these two herbs have protective effects against arteriosclerosis.
The study results showed that the danshen herbal combination did not alter blood pressures, blood cell counts, and blood chemistries. There was a mild decrease in low density lipoprotein (LDL) cholesterol.
FMD is flow-mediated endothelium-dependent dilation, a functional measure of arteries. IMT is intima-media thickness, which is a structural measure of arteries. Brachial FMD and carotid IMT improvements were seen in the danshen and gegen treated groups. The brachial FMD improved at 24 weeks and the carotid IMT improved at 30 weeks. These measures help predict the risks of strokes and heart attacks.
Danshen and gegen treatment in this study did not alter the homocysteine or folate blood levels.
CONCLUSION: Danshen and gegen (kudzu) improved blood vessel function and structure. The herbs were well tolerated. Further large scale studies are needed.
NOTE: Danshen is called red sage in English and is not the same as cooking sage, which is Salvia officinalis. Pueraria lobata is known as kudzu in Japan. Read a kudzu review.
The brachial artery is in the arm. The carotid artery is in the neck and supplies the brain with blood. FMD is a flow study and reflects the ability of the artery to enlarge. The IMT measures the thickness of the artery wall.