encyclopedia

Peony Root

Scientific Names:

Paeonia officinalsis L. emend. Willd. [Fam. Paeoniaceae]

Forms:
Liquid extract of the roots of the peony flower species.

Traditional Usage:
– Antispasmodic

– Bone and Joint Disorders

– Brain (cephalic) Disorders

– Chronic Fatigue

– Coughs

– Gastrointestinal Problems

– Hemorrhoids

– Migraines

– Muscle spasms

– Nerve Pain

– Nervousness

– Neuralgic Disorders

– Respiratory Disorders

– Rheumatism

– Varicose Veins

– Whooping Cough

Overview:
Peony root, Paeonia officinalsis L. [Fam. Paeoniaceae], is native to southern Europe and Asia and is a popular medicinal herb in Traditional Chinese Medicine. As a folk remedy peony root was traditionally used to treat epilepsy, nervous disorders, bone and joint disorders and pain, bowel disorders, respiratory conditions, anal fissures, hemorrhoids, and varicose veins. Because of its calming and antispasmodic properties, peony root has also been touted as an effective treatment for rheumatism, stomach problems, muscle spasms, chronic fatigue, nervousness, migraines, convulsions, allergies, whopping cough and nerve pain. There have not been enough studies to validate the effectiveness of this drug, and therefore some practitioners do not recommend it. Peony root is said to have a mild but persistent tonic effect, it is soothing to the nervous system of debilitated patients and of the aged. It is used as a curative wherever there is irregular muscular action. It is reputed to be useful in chorea (a movement disorder that may affect the limbs, the trunk and the face); either alone or combined with other positively indicated remedies. It has been used to relieve convulsions in children, as well as other persons suffering from convulsive phenomena, and its use in epilepsy has proved satisfactory in some cases. It is said not to be a powerful remedy but one that has a steady and persistent influence; it is useful as an auxiliary treatment given with other more temporary remedies. It has also traditionally been given for whooping cough and is recommended in the treatment of other spasmodic coughs. The juice expressed from the fresh root has likewise been used medicinally for these purposes. The powdered seeds were given traditionally to overcome night terrors and nightmares in elderly people and those suffering from chronic diseases. Peony reputedly relieves many forms of nervous irritation.

Active Ingredients:
Root: 4-5% glucose, 8-14% saccharose, 14-20% starch, circa 2% metarabinic acid, 1% organic acids, tannic acid, calcium oxalate, 0.4%essential oil (with peonol), benzoic acid and esters, glutamine, arginine, tannin, paeoniafloureszine. Root Bark: Peoniide (C15H20O8); the alkaloid peregrinine is uterotonic, hemostat, narrowing the renal capillaries. Flower: Anthocyanin pigments, especially paeonin ( = paeonidin 3.5-diglucoside), flavonoids, particularly derivatives of kaempferol; tannins, presumably gallotannins, the presence of which has been found in the leaves and the roots. Seeds: Peregrinine, fat, resinic acid, sugar, arabinic acid, dye, protein, pectin, and peonifluoreszin.

Suggested Amount:
Occasionally included in herbal teas. As a drug therapy it is rarely prescribed, as its effectiveness remains unproven. A tea is made by pouring boiling water over 1 teaspoon of the drug. Steep the tea for 5-10 minutes, then strain. 1 Teaspoon = 1 gram.

Drug Interactions:
None known.

Contraindications:
Avoid during pregnancy and lactation.

Side Effects:
Overdose of the flowers, seeds, and roots will cause gastroenteritis with nausea, vomiting, colic, and diarrhea. Consult a physician before use.

References:

Duke JA. 1985. Peony Root. In Handbook of Medicinal Herbs. CRC Press, Boca Raton, FL, Pp. 336.

Ferguson D, Sang T. 2001. Speciation through homoploid hybridization between allotetraploids in peonies (Paeonia). Proc Natl Acad Sci U S A. 2001 Mar 27; 98(7): 3915-9.

Horikoshi T, Homma N, Hemmi S, Hatakeyama Y. 1973. [Cultivation of Paeonia officinalis L. at Hokkaido. I (author’s transl)] Eisei Shikenjo Hokoku. 1973; 91(0): 103-6. Japanese.

Wang WK, Hsu TL, Wang YY. 1998. Liu-wei-dihuang: a study by pulse analysis. Am J Chin Med. 1998; 26(1): 73-82.

Wichtl M and NG Bisset (eds). 1994. Peony Root. In Herbal Drugs and Phyto-pharmaceuticals. (English translation by Norman Grainger Bisset). CRC Press, Stuttgart, Pp. 362.