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Dan Shen with Toby Daly + Calm Spirit Tincture Recipe
Episode 1131st May 2023 • Herbs with Rosalee • Rosalee de la Forêt
00:00:00 00:51:00

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I’m excited to have our first Chinese medicine practitioner, Toby Daly, on the show. That he chose to talk about 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 dan shen (Salvia miltiorrhiza), I’m confident you’ll love it, too, by the end of this episode.

To give you a sneak peek, dan shen 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, dan shen 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 dan shen! 

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 does dan shen compare and contrast to hawthorn?

► The role of humility and collaboration in herbalism

► How to make a tincture with dan shen 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!)

Here is one of my favorite takeaways from our conversation: 

“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?’”

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.

If you’d like to hear more from him, which I highly recommend, then head to the show notes where you can get an easy link for his website. You can also find the transcript for this episode in the show notes.

I’m so happy to share our conversation with you today!


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On the podcast, we explore the many ways plants heal, as food, as medicine, and through nature connection. Each week, I focus on a single seasonal plant and share trusted herbal knowledge so that you can get the best results when using herbs for your health.

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Rosalee is an herbalist and author of the bestselling book Alchemy of Herbs: Transform Everyday Ingredients Into Foods & Remedies That Heal and 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 teaches many popular online courses. Read about how Rosalee went from having a terminal illness to being a bestselling author in her full story here