Salvia Miltiorrhiza and Alcoholism
Answered by: Conrad Richter
Question from: Teresita
Posted on: February 10, 2005

I recently read an article that in Rome, Italy there has been some experimentation with Salvia Miltiorrhiza, originally from China, with possible remedy factors in combating alcoholism. It did say it was in positive experimental stage with rats and soon to begin experiments with humans. Is this form of salvia consumed via a tea, pill or injected? What a blessing this would be! Any information on this would be greatly appreciated.

Salvia miltiorrhiza is a Chinese herb known as "red sage" or "tan shen" in Chinese. I asked our Chinese herbs expert, Robert Newman, what he knows about Salvia miltiorrhiza’s use in treating alcoholism. Here is what he wrote back:

"I have heard something about this... I did some checking and it is true. But it looks to be using some sort of extract (don’t know if it’s using a whole root extract or some isolated compound(s)... and they may possibly be using some sort of particular solvent (one article said Polysorbate 80) to get the results they wanted."

Here are some resources Robert looked at:

1. Salvia miltiorrhiza: Ready for clinical trials on human beings. Alcoholism may have its natural solution ( (scroll down to article on salvia)

2. Salvia miltiorrhiza, a Chinese medicinal herb, delays acquisition of alcohol drinking behaviour in alcohol preferring SP rats. ( (scroll down)

3. Potential use of medicinal plants in the treatment of alcoholism (

4. Reducing effect of Salvia miltiorrhiza extracts on alcohol intake: influence of vehicle (

The above study looked at using several different solvents to make the root extract, but only the extract made with polysorbate 80 worked to reduce alcohol intake in "alcohol-preferring" rats.

5. Anti-relapse properties of IDN 5082, a standardized extract of Salvia miltiorrhiza, in alcohol-preferring rats. (Serra S, Vacca G, Tumatis S, Carrucciu A, Morazzoni P, Bombardelli E, Colombo G, Gessa GL, Carai MA., J Ethnopharmacol. 2003 Oct;88(2-3):249-52.)

All of the research reported in the above articles was sponsored by the Italian herbal extract company, Indena SpA.

Richters carries red sage seeds. It is a perennial to zones 9-10. We have succeeded in growing it as a summer annual on our zone 5 farm in southern Canada.

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