Here is an example of a Chinese herbal medicine (dan shen) interacting with a lab test to cause an inaccurate digoxin blood level result.

  • Taking digoxin and the Chinese medicine dan shen (aka: Salvia miltiorrhiza, red sage, chan su, and radix salvis mitiorhiza) might lead to inaccurate digoxin blood levels due to interference of a component in the Chinese medicine with the antibody used in the digoxin test.

Dan Shen is a traditional Chinese herb used for — among other things — supporting “heart function.” So, it’s very possible that a person taking digoxin to treat congestive heart failure or abnormal heart rhythm might also take dan shen.

This finding is part of larger report published by the department of pathology and laboratory medicine at the University of Texas-Houston Medical School in Houston. The researchers reviewed all published reports between 1980 and 2005.

9/30/06 20:03 JR

Hi, I’m JR

John Russo, Jr., PharmD, is president of The MedCom Resource, Inc. Previously, he was senior vice president of medical communications at, a complementary and alternative medicine website.