Season 8 Episode 11: Benefits of Red Sage
with Toby Daly

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Dan Shen with Toby Daly

Would you prefer watching or reading this episode? If so, click here for the 'Benefits of Red Sage' video and transcript.

Episode Summary

I’m excited to have our first Chinese medicine practitioner, Toby Daly, on the show. That he chose to talk about the benefits of red sage (or dan shen)—one of my favorite herbs to grow in a garden and perhaps one of the herbs that I have been growing the longest—just added to my delight! If you don’t already know about the benefits of red sage (Salvia miltiorrhiza), I’m confident you’ll love it too by the end of this episode.

To give you a sneak peek, red sage can help to:

► Cool and calm irritability

► Ease chronic pain

► Support the heart and pericardium

► and more

All this while having the additional distinction of being the lead player in a whole-herb formula that’s just been approved in the U.S. to go to Stage Four clinical trials. (That’s big, folks!) And, as if that wasn’t enough, red sage is absolutely gorgeous, with brilliant, large purple flowers that are beloved by pollinators of all sorts, including bees, butterflies and hummingbirds.

Any which way you look at it, there’s an abundance to enjoy and appreciate about the benefits of red sage! 

By the end of this episode, you’ll know:

► Why Chinese medicine (and, of course, clinical herbalism) always starts with the patient, not with the herbs

► What does it mean to “move the blood” and why is that important?

► How do the benefits of red sage compare and contrast to hawthorn?

► The role of humility and collaboration in herbalism

► How to make a tincture with red sage that supports the heart and the liver, the two major emotional systems in the body from a Chinese medicine perspective (be sure to download your recipe card!)

For those who don’t already know Toby, he received his undergraduate degree in Food Science from the California Polytechnic State University at San Luis Obispo. He began studying Chinese medicine in 1997 with Sunim Doam, a Korean monk trained in the Saam tradition. He earned his master's degree in Traditional Chinese Medicine in 2002 upon completion of training at the American College of Traditional Chinese Medicine in San Francisco and Chengdu University in China.

During his four years of training in San Francisco, he interned with the prominent acupuncturist Dr. Angela Wu and learned to apply the lofty theories he was studying in school into the pragmatic setting of a busy clinic. In 2013, he developed the Chinese Nutritional Strategies app to provide digital access to the wealth of Chinese dietary wisdom.

In 2016, proving that some people never learn, he completed a PhD in Classical Chinese Medicine under the guidance of 88th generation Daoist priest Jeffery Yuen. In 2021, he developed the Chinese Medical Characters app to enable direct access to foundational Chinese medical terms and concepts.

He lectures internationally and in April 2023 he published his first book, An Introduction to Chinese Medicine: A Patient's Guide to Acupuncture, Herbal Medicine, Nutrition & More.

I didn’t know Toby prior to this episode and I really enjoyed getting to know him. I think that, like me, you’ll find him to be very sweet, endearing and super knowledgeable. He didn’t even bat an eye when I interrupted him to talk about Tori Amos, so big score in my book! I’m so happy to share our conversation with you today!

We can never say something is good or bad. We always have to say, ‘For who? What’s the constitution? What’s going on with them right now? When? What’s the season or the climatic factors that’s going on?’ We can never answer ‘Is this a good herb or bad herb?


What You'll Learn from This Episode

  • [01:09] Introduction to Toby Daly
  • [03:31] How trying acupuncture led to Toby’s life work
  • [09:47] The role meditation played for Toby in recovering from despair
  • [11:25] Why Toby loves dan shen (Salvia miltiorrhiza)
  • [14:42] What does it mean to move the blood and why is that important?
  • [15:46] How dan shen got its name
  • [17:08] Dan shen’s affinity for the heart
  • [18:27] Calm Spirit tincture recipe
  • [19:59] Closing thoughts about dan shen
  • [24:10] Hawthorn vs. dan shen for the heart
  • [26:40] Toby’s book, An Introduction to Chinese Medicine
  • [30:31] Who Toby wrote his book for
  • [36:31] What it’s like to be an acupuncturist at the grocery store
  • [39:23] Toby’s biggest herbal mistake
  • [50:02] Dan shen tidbit

Get Your Free Recipe!

Calm Spirit is a simple two-herb formula from the Taiwanese herbal tradition of my teacher Dr. Angela Wu.


  • 120 grams Dan Shen (Salviae Miltiorrhizae Radix)
  • 30 grams He Huan Hua (Flos Albizziae)
  • 1000 ml ETOH (Ethyl alcohol)


  1. Place the two medicinals into a clean glass jar
  2. Add the ETOH
  3. Seal and macerate for at least two weeks. Shake the jar daily to promote extraction.
  4. Strain the herbs from the tincture. Be sure to squeeze the herbs to extract all the liquid. You can compost the spent herbs.
  5. Pour the tincture into amber or blue dropper bottles and label.

Connect with Toby

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Rosalee is an herbalist and author of the bestselling book Alchemy of Herbs: Transform Everyday Ingredients Into Foods & Remedies That Healand co-author of the bestselling book Wild Remedies: How to Forage Healing Foods and Craft Your Own Herbal Medicine. She's a registered herbalist with the American Herbalist Guild and has taught thousands of students through her online courses. Read about how Rosalee went from having a terminal illness to being a bestselling author in her full story here.  

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