Please note that you should never self-prescribe TCM ingredients. A TCM ingredient is almost never eaten on its own but as part of a formula containing several ingredients that act together. Please consult a professional TCM practitioner, they will be best able to guide you.
Preparation: Wash, remove head and tail and smaller roots, cook in boiling water, remove skin or peel, dry.
Dosage: 3 - 12 grams
Main actions according to TCM*: Tonifies the Blood and preserves the Yin. Nourishes the Liver and assists in the smooth flow of Qi. Regulates the meridians and eases the pain.
Contraindications*: This herb should not be used by those with diarrhea and Spleen and Stomach Deficiency.
Source date: 846 AD
Number of ingredients: 4 herbs
Formula key actions: Restores and nourishes Blood. Stimulates Blood circulation.
Bai Shao is a king ingredient in Si Wu Tang. Like the name indicates, it means it has more power than other ingredients in the formula.
In Si Wu Tang, Bai Shao helps reduce the muscle spasms caused by Blood-Deficiency and it is particularly well-suited to treat abdominal pain. Together with Prepared rehmannia (Shu Di huang), it has a strong tonifying effect on the Blood.
Source date: 1826 AD
Number of ingredients: 10 herbs
Formula key actions: Pacifies the Liver. Removes Stagnation. Drains Fire. Unblocks the Meridians.
Bai Shao is a king ingredient in Xuan Yu Tong Jing Tang. Like the name indicates, it means it has more power than other ingredients in the formula.
In Xuan Yu Tong Jing Tang, Bai Shao enters the Liver and Spleen. It nourishes the Blood, pacifies the Liver and relieves spasmodic abdominal pain. It is also able to unblock the Blood vessels and promote water metabolism.
Source date: 1174 AD
Number of ingredients: 14 herbs
Formula key actions: Tonifies Qi and Blood. Nourishes the Heart. Calms the spirit.
Bai Shao is a king ingredient in Ren Shen Yang Rong Tang. Like the name indicates, it means it has more power than other ingredients in the formula.
In Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM), white peony roots are plants that belong to the 'Tonic herbs for Blood Deficiency' category. Tonic herbs are used for patterns of Deficiency, when one lacks one of the 'Four Treasures' (Qi, Blood, Yin and Yang). Blood tonics tend to be bitter-sweet with either a Warm or neutral nature. Because the Liver stores Blood, all Blood tonics enter that Organ's Channel.
As suggested by its category white peony roots are plants that are Neutral in nature. This means that white peony roots typically don't affect the balance in your body. Balance between Yin and Yang is a key health concept in TCM. Eating too many "Hot" (Yang) ingredients can lead to an imbalance whereby one has a Yang Excess. The inverse is true as well: too many "Cold" (Yin) ingredients can lead to a Yin Excess. The Neutral nature of white peony roots means that you don't have to worry about that!
White peony roots also taste Bitter and Sour. The so-called 'Five Phases' theory in Chinese Medicine states that the taste of TCM ingredients is a key determinant of their action in the body. Bitter ingredients like white peony roots tend to have a cleansing action on the body by clearing Heat, drying Dampness and promoting elimination via urination or bowel movements. On the other hand Sour ingredients help with digestion and restrain abnormal discharges of Fluids from the body, such as diarrhea or heavy sweating.
The tastes of ingredients in TCM also determine what Organs and Meridians they target. As such white peony roots are thought to target the Spleen and the Liver. In TCM the Spleen assists with digestion, Blood coagulation and Fluids metabolism in the body. The Liver on the other hand is often referred as the body's "general" because it is in charge of regulating the movements of Qi and the Body Fluids. It also takes a leading role in balancing our emotions.
Paeoniflorin and 8-debenzoylpaeoniflorin isolated from the dried root of Paeonia lactiflora produced a significant blood sugar lowering effect in streptozotocin-treated rats. It could therefore have similar effects in human and help treat diabetes.1
The root of Paeonia lactiflora has antipyretic and anti-inflammatory effects in that it can improve IgE-induced anaphylaxis and scratching behaviors. That may be due to the effect of its constituents, paeoniflorin and paeonol.2
1. FL Hsu, CW Lai, JT Cheng (1997). Antihyperglycemic Effects of Paeoniflorin and 8-Debenzoylpaeoniflorin, Glucosides from the Root of Paeonia lactiflora. Planta Med, 63(4): 323-325. DOI: 10.1055/s-2006-957692.
2. Lee, B., Shin, YW., Bae, EA. et al. Arch. Pharm. Res. (2008) 31: 445. https://doi.org/10.1007/s12272-001-1177-6