What is Red Sage Good For? (+5 Benefits)6 min read time
If you have ever wondered how red sage can benefit your health, you have come to the right place.
From type 2 diabetes to high cholesterol, red sage has long been used as a natural remedy for a wide range of health problems.
What is red sage good for?
Red sage is a widely used medicinal herb and contains 201 plant compounds. Natural healers and researchers alike report red sage has medicinal values and supports cardiovascular health and stroke prevention; blood sugar and diabetes prevention; healthy liver function; strong bones; and a calming effect leading to better breathing.
Red sage has been used for over 2000 years and is still being used today. In fact, researchers and natural healers have discovered many incredible health benefits of red sage.
Lets’ now examine what the evidence says.
What is Red Sage?
Red sage is a perennial plant native to China and Japan. It goes by the scientific name Salvia miltiorrhiza and is also known as danshen in Chinese.
The most useful parts of the herb are the roots. The plant’s roots contain multiple compounds that have pharmaceutical value. And, like most herbal medicines, they don’t have any observable toxicity.
This herb is widely available in China, especially in the provinces of Beijing, Jiangsu, and Liaoning, among others. Many Chinese people plant it domestically. It does well in temperatures of 17 degrees Celsius ( 63 degrees Fahrenheit) with an average humidity of 77%.
Even though its main source is China, red sage products are available in almost all countries. 
A Brief History of Red Sage
Red sage has been used for at least 2000 years in China to treat various conditions. The first historical record of red sage was written in 221 BC to 220 AD during the reign of the Qin and Han dynasties.
Shennong’s Herbal Classic of Materia Medica is an ancient book containing agricultural and medicinal plants that the Chinese used many centuries ago. This book describes red sage as an herb exhibiting no toxicity. Today, in the modern world, this plant continues to be one of the most widely used in Chinese herbal medicine.
Traditional Uses of Red Sage
Traditionally, the Chinese used red sage as an anti-oxidant. They believed red sage was effective in boosting the heart and overall health.
Centuries ago there was limited processing of the herb, and people consumed the leaves and roots in a raw form. Today, red sage is available in many forms, such as capsules, tea, liquid extract, and powder.
Five Incredible Health Benefits of Red Sage
According to research, red sage has 201 plant compounds that have a wide range of medicinal values. Below are some of the main health problems that red sage has been shown to benefit:
1. Cardiovascular health and stroke prevention
Red sage has been widely used to treat cardiovascular diseases in China and other Asia countries. In the last 25 years, 39 clinical trials have featured red sage for the treatment of patients with cardiovascular disease.
The reason for red sage’s widespread use may be because the two most abundant compounds found in red sage (tanshinone IIA and salvianolate) are said to have multiple health benefits, such as opening blood vessels and preventing blood clotting. Blood clots in the body are known to cause heart attacks and strokes.
The antioxidant properties of this herb help reduce free radicals in the body that cause cellular damage through oxidation. These free radicals increase the risk of many diseases, including heart problems and certain types of cancers.
Even though research is still ongoing to determine the full benefits of red sage, evidence shows that it can help with post-stroke and post-heart attack recovery. Its uses are even more expansive when combined with some conventional medications.
2. Blood sugar and diabetes prevention
Red sage may also play a key role in managing blood sugar levels.
A medical research team at the University of Monastir in Tunisia found that red sage produces similar effects as an expensive anti-diabetic medicine used to control high blood sugar in people with type 2 diabetes.
These researchers discovered that red sage improves insulin sensitivity and reduces inflammation. The analysts concluded that red sage may be a powerful natural alternative that can support healthy blood sugar levels. 
But red sage may offer even more powerful diabetes prevention.
Researchers with the British Journal of Nutrition report that the effect red sage has on fasting glucose levels may prevent type 2 diabetes by decreasing glucose levels in some people. 
3. Healthy liver function
Red sage has also been shown to support the liver and there are many studies that show the therapeutic effects of red sage on liver diseases.
Studies show the positive effects of red sage on the two most common types of chronic liver disease; alcoholic liver disease (ALD) and non-alcoholic fatty liver disease (NAFLD). 
Researchers at the College of Korean Medicine in Seoul, Korea showed that red sage increased liver function and had a beneficial effect on liver tissue. 
4. Supports strong bones
Studies show that red sage can support osteoporosis, potentially reversing a decline in bone density.
In fact, red sage has been used historically to treat skeletal diseases in traditional Chinese medicine (TCM). 
Today, combined with the advance of modern technologies, red sage compounds are showing positive results in many bone-health treatments. For example, researchers with the Journal of Ethnopharmacology have shown that red sage has the potential to provide potent compounds that support both bone resorption and bone formation. 
Additionally, scientists from the Department of Pharmacology at the Wroclaw Medical University in Poland identified 36 trials that demonstrated high efficacy and no toxicity of red sage. They found that red sage helped to improve the regeneration of bone. 
5. Calming effect and better breathing
Red sage produces a calming effect on the nervous system.
Traditionally, probably because of the pleasant aroma combined with the powerfully soothing compounds, most people have used red sage in tea to produce a calming effect.
Additionally, since red sage opens up the airways, it may also allow people to breathe better, thereby supporting a calming effect. This may be a reason why red sage is good for people with asthma and those having breathing problems.
Multiple Health Benefits Plus Low Risk
Historically, as mentioned above, red sage has been proven effective in treating health problems such as bone loss, diabetes, and heart-related conditions. In addition, red sage has been found to benefit liver and kidney problems, breathing difficulties, certain types of cancers, and stroke.
Because red sage is an herbal medicine, it’s 100% natural and doesn’t have the side effects associated with pharmaceutical drugs. Its very low risk, along with multiple health benefits, make it worth trying for many people.
An Easy Way to Add Red Sage to Your Diet
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- National Library of Medicine. Salvia miltiorrhiza: A Potential Red Light to the Development of Cardiovascular Diseases. Published online 2017 Feb.
- National Library of Medicine. Danshen: a phytochemical and pharmacological overview. Chin J Nat Med. 2019 Jan;17(1):59-80.
- National Library of Medicine. Salvia miltiorrhiza in Treating Cardiovascular Diseases: A Review on Its Pharmacological and Clinical Applications. Front Pharmacol. 2019 Jul 5.
- Overview of Salvia miltiorrhiza as a Potential Therapeutic Agent for Various Diseases: An Update on Efficacy and Mechanisms of Action: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC7555792/
- Salvia miltiorrhiza: an ancient Chinese herbal medicine as a source for anti-osteoporotic drugs: https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/25109459/
- Metformin-like effect of Salvia officinalis (common sage): is it useful in diabetes prevention?: https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/16923227/
- Preventive effects of Salvia officinalis leaf extract on insulin resistance and inflammation in a model of high fat diet-induced obesity in mice that responds to rosiglitazone: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC5765810/
- Salvia miltiorrhiza: A Potential Red Light to the Development of Cardiovascular Diseases: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC5421141/
- Słupski W, Jawień P, Nowak B. Botanicals in Postmenopausal Osteoporosis. Nutrients. 2021; 13(5):1609. https://doi.org/10.3390/nu13051609