Peony root tonifies the blood, alleviates menstrual cramps and irregularities, amenorrhea, both functional and emotional nervous conditions, including chorea, epilepsy, spasms and other neurological affections. The Chinese species, which corresponds to the ornamental garden variety, is widely used as an antispasmodic; and catalyst to relax tension to enhance the activity of the primary herbs in a formula.

Botanical Name

Paeonia lactiflora

Part Used


Common Names

Chinese Peony, White Peony; Bai Shao Yao, Chin Shao Yao, Nd, Shao Yao, Syakuyaku, Shao yao (ladle medicine); byakushaku (Japanese); paekchak (Korean)

Brief History

Paeonia lactiflora Flower

The root of Chinese peony has been used for over 1,500 years in Chinese medicine. It is mainly employed in female ailments related to menses, pregnancy, and childbirth. It is known most widely as one of the herbs used to make ‘Four Things Soup’, a woman’s tonic, and it is also a remedy for gynaecological problems and for cramp, pain and giddiness.

The most critical ingredient medicinally in the root is paeoniflorin, which has been shown to have a strong antispasmodic effect on mammalian intestines, it also reduces blood pressure, reduces body temperature caused by fever and protects against stress ulcers. It is taken internally in the treatment of menstrual disorders, injuries, high blood pressure, pre-menstrual tension and liver disorders.


Asparagines and benzoic acid, paeoniflorin, paeonol, paeonin, albiflorin, triterpenoids, sistosterol.

Therapeutic Properties

Anti-inflammatory, analgesic, antispasmodic, sedative, vasodilatory, platelet aggregation inhibitory, cholesterol and triglyceride reducing, immunomodulant, antioxidant, liver protective, antihyperglycemic, antibacterial, astringent, anti-androgenic in females.

Vitalist Properties

Temperature: Cool

Moisture: Neutral

Therapeutic Indications

Menstrual disorders (with Licorice) – irregularity, erratic ovulation, spasmodic dysmenorrhoea, metrorrhagia, menorrhagia, leucorrhoea, menopausal symptoms, benign breast disease, endometriosis, fibroids, adenomyosis, infertility, polycystic ovarian syndrome (with Licorice), androgen excess, threatened miscarriage, toxaemia of pregnancy, and restless foetus (TCM), myalgia (with Licorice) – cramps, muscular spasm, muscular tension, migraine, angina pectoris, epilepsy (with Licorice), irritable bowel syndrome, poor memory and concentration

Primary Uses

Gynecological issues

White peony helps menstrual disorders, including heavy bleeding between periods, and is specifically used to treat menstrual pain and cramps. It is a blood and yin tonic and will help “blood deficiency” states, as well as hot flashes and night sweats resulting from yin deficiency.


White peony is prescribed for cramping abdominal pain, especially in dysentery, for muscle cramps, and numb hands and feet. It also treats headaches, ringing in the ear, dizziness, and blurred vision.

Clinical Research

  • White peony has exhibited smooth muscle relaxant activity in isolated tissue (ileum and uterus) from several animal species. This effect was potentiated by GL from licorice and was confirmed in vivo.
  • Oral administration of white peony decoction or paeoniflorin attenuated the performance deficit produced by scopolamine, and paeoniflorin reduced learning impairment in experimental models. Aqueous extract of white peony inhibited the convulsant activity of the drug pentylenetetrazol in isolated neuronal tissue. The most active constituents were albiflorin and the gallotannin fraction.
  • An aqueous methanol extract of white peony demonstrated anticholinergic activity in vivo. Paeoniflorin was one of the active constituents in vivo but had no effect on isolated tissue, probably because the active form is a metabolite of paeoniflorin.
  • White peony, which was found to inhibit nine types of common pathogenic bacteria, also enhanced the phagocytic activity of macrophages and increased T-lymphocytes.
  • Anticoagulant activity was demonstrated in vivo for paeoniflorin.
  • An antiatherogenic activity was demonstrated after oral administration of white peony in an experimental model of hypercholesterolemia.
  • In Germany, the Commission E supports using St. John’s wort internally to treat anxiety-related symptoms and depressive moods, as well as anxiety, nervous unrest, or both. Oily St. John’s wort preparations are recommended internally for dyspeptic complaints and externally for treatment and post-therapy of acute and contused injuries, myalgia, and first-degree burns.

Dosage (Divided Daily)

  • Dried Root: 5,000 – 15,000mg (Decoction)
  • Tincture: 4.5 – 8.5 mL (1:2)

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  • Women should not use this herb singly during pregnancy, not during the first two months after childbirth, but it may be used as part of compound formulas
  • Caution should be exercised in patients taking warfarin and other anticoagulant medication.

Side effects

  • None known

Interactions with other drugs

  • None known


  1. Bone, K. (2003). A clinical guide to blending liquid herbs: herbal formulations for the individual patient. St. Louis, MI: Churchill Livingstone.

  2. Chevallier, A. (2000). Encyclopedia of herbal medicine (2nd American ed.). New York: DK Pub.

  3. Herbalpedia (2013)

  4. Mars, B. (2007). The desktop guide to herbal medicine: the ultimate multidisciplinary reference to the amazing realm of healing plants, in a quick-study, one-stop guide. Laguna Beach, CA: Basic Health Pub.
  5. Tierra, M., & Frawley, D. (1988). Planetary Herbology: an integration of Western herbs into the traditional Chinese and Ayurvedic systems (1st ed.). Twin Lakes, Wis.: Lotus Press.

All material on this website is provided for your information only and may not be construed as medical advice or instruction. No action or inaction should be taken based solely on the contents of this information; instead, readers should consult appropriate health professionals on any matter relating to their health and well-being.

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