White Peony Root-Bai Shao-Paeonia laciflora
Common Name: White Peony Root
Pinyin Name: Bai Shao
Botanical Name: Paeonia laciflora
Growing & Harvesting: White peony is native to central and eastern Asia and made their way to Europe as prized cut flowers in the 1800’s. The perennial plant is easy to grow from root divided or grafted off established plants. In the U.S., peony plants are hardy from zone 3-7 as it requires a cold winter. Grow in full to partial sun in loamy soil with a neutral Ph. The root is harvested in the fall for use in Chinese medicine
Culinary Uses: Peony flowers are used to make a delicate tea in the late spring and the roots are added to broth and soups to fortify the constitution and enhance beauty.
Medicinal Uses: White peony has a gentle, soothing nature and us highly nourishing. For this reason, it has many healing applications.
Properties: Bitter, Sour, Cool, Astringing
Channels entered: Heart, Liver, Spleen
- Soothes the Liver
- Harmonizes Wei
- Nourishes Blood
- Preserves Yin
- Regulates the Menses
What Does White Peony Treat?
Peony is very rarely used as a single herb to treat disorders; rather, it is included in herbal combinations that treat the following:
Insomnia and Sleeping Disruptions
In traditional Chinese medicine, abundant Blood is vital for sound sleep as it is grounding for the mind and the Liver and white peony root nourishes Blood.
Paeoniflorin (PF) a phyto-chemical constituent from the root of Paeonia lactiflora which has been shown to inhibit the growth, invasion, and metastasis of tumors. Another study from 2015 concluded that PF and other compounds found in white peony hold promise as antiviral medications for the common cold. Yet another study from 2016 revealed that PF alleviates psoriatic skin lesions in mice by inhibiting inflammation, thus demonstrating an immunomodulatory effect.
Women’s Gynecological Issues
In traditional Chinese medicine, the Liver regulates menstruation and the flow of menstrual blood. Therefore, Liver Qi Stagnation is a major cause of women’s gynecological disorder. In addition to soothing the Liver, white peony root stops hot flashes related to menopause.
White peony root contains paeoniflorin (PF) which has been shown in multiple studies to decrease pain , muscle spasm , neuropathic pain, and inflammation . According to traditional Chinese medicine, the Liver controls the free flow of Qi throughout the body. Where Qi goes, Blood goes. Pain is caused by Qi and Blood stagnation. Thus, white peony root relieves pain and spasms largely by relieving Liver Qi Constriction. White Peony is used in these pain conditions:
- Restless Leg Syndrome
- Abdominal Pain
- Lower Back Pain
- Muscle Pain
One of the main indications of white peony is to sooth and nourish the Liver; therefore, it would be indicated in any liver disease. Modern science is beginning to affirm this knowledge from over 2,00 years ago as a study from 2015 found that a phyto-chemical extracted from white peony root Paeoniflorin, prevented fatty liver disease in mice fed a high fat diet.
Beautiful Skin and Hair
Because white peony nourishes the Blood, it has been used by royalty for thousands of years to retain youthful skin and soft hair.
Chen, J. K. and Chen, T. T. (2003) Chinese Medical Herbology and Pharmacology. Art of Medicine Press. Pages 930-934.
Bensky, D., Gamble, A. (1986) Chinese herbal medicine: Materia medica. Seattle, WA: Eastland Press. Pages 331-332
Wang, Y., Sheir,W., OnoM. Ancient Wisdom, Modern Kitchen: Recipes from the East for Health, Healing. (2010) Da Capo Press
Retrieved May 2017 from http://www.almanac.com/plant/peonies
Retrieved May 2017 from Wikipedia: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Peony
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 Zhou Z1, Wang S1, Song C2, Hu Z. Paeoniflorin prevents hypoxia-induced epithelial-mesenchymal transition in human breast cancer cells. Oncology Targets Therapy. 2016 Apr 27;9:2511-8
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 Sun Y1, Zhang J1, Huo R1, Zhai T1, Li H1, Wu P1, Zhu X1, Zhou Z1, Shen B1, Li N2. Jan 6 2015. Paeoniflorin inhibits skin lesions in imiquimod-induced psoriasis-like mice by downregulating inflammation. Jan 6 2015. International Immunopharmacology. 2015 Feb;24(2):392-9
 Yu H.-Y., Mu D.-G., Chen J., Yin W. Suppressive effects of intrathecal paeoniflorin on bee venom-induced pain-related behaviors and spinal neuronal activation. Pharmacology. 2011;88(3-4):159–166
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 Nam K.-N., Yae C. G., Hong J.-W., Cho D.-H., Lee J. H., Lee E. H. Paeoniflorin, a monoterpene glycoside, attenuates lipopolysaccharide-induced neuronal injury and brain microglial inflammatory response. Biotechnology Letters. 2013;35(8):1183–1189.
 Zhou J1, Wang J1, Li W1, Wang C1, Wu L1, Zhang J1. Paeoniflorin attenuates the neuroinflammatory response in a rat model of chronic constriction injury. Mol Med Rep. 2017 May;15(5):3179-3185.
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 Zhong M., Song W.-L., Xu Y.-C., Ye Y., Feng L.-Y. Paeoniflorin ameliorates ischemic neuronal damage in vitro via adenosine A1receptor-mediated transactivation of epidermal growth factor receptor. Acta Pharmacologica Sinica. 2015;36(3):298–310.
 Zhang L1, Yang B, Yu B. Paeoniflorin Protects against Nonalcoholic Fatty Liver Disease Induced by a High-Fat Diet in Mice. Biol Pharm Bull. 2015;38(7):1005-11.