- Family Paeoniaceae
- Paeonia officinalis (and other species)
- Piney, Chi shao yao (Chinese red sp.), Bai shao yao (Chinese white sp.), Mudan pi (root bark Chinese)
- It should be taken only under professional guidance.
- Do not take during pregnancy.
Indigenous to the moutains of southern Europe from Portugal to Albania and Hungary and as far as Asia Minor, the wild plant is found in mountain woodlands. However, it is now a widely cultivated garden perennial bush that can grow to two feet in height. It has a tuberous root, upright stems, oval to lance-shaped leaves, and large, attractive flowers that can be red, reddish-purple, pink, or white. The root is unearthed in the autumn.
It is named after Paeon, the physician of the Greek gods.
Since the time of Hippocrates (470-377 BCE), the peony has been used to treat epilepsy. A medieval Arab physician, Ibn el Beitar, recommended a necklace of peony seeds to ward off the disorder in children.
Dioscorides (40-90 CE) wrote that the root provokes menstruation and may be used to expel the placenta after childbirth.
- circulatory stimulant
- hypotensive (lowers blood pressure)
- volatile oil
- benzoic acid
- Root, Root bark
In Chinese medicine, the root of the red peony is thought to cool the blood, move stagnating blood, and relieve pain.
Experiments in London, using the tree peony root bark (P. suffruticosa) with other Chinese herbs, successfully treated childhood eczema. It is used to cool the blood, as well as being a good antibacterial for boils and abscesses.
The root of the white peony has a more specific action than the red, soothing liver energy and improving its function. It is also seen as nourishing the blood rather than cooling it, and is considered to be one of the great tonics for women, often used in menstrual disorders.
Although rarely used in contemporary European herbal medicine, the peony is thought to be an antispasmodic and sedative used in cases of whooping cough and nervous irritation.
Suppositories can be made from the root to relieve anal and intestinal spasms.