Peony (Bai Shao)
Latin: Paeonia species
Parts Used: Root
Taste/Energetics: Bitter, sour, cooling
Properties: Antispasmodic, analgesic, hypotensive, circulatory stimulant, anti-inflammatory
Actions: There are a number of different species of Peony and two of the most common in Chinese medicine are the tree peony (Mu Dan Pi), Paeonia suffructicosa, and white Peony, Bai Shao Yao- which is what I will write about here. One of its cousins grows here in the NorthWest (Peonia brownii) and has similar properties to Bai Shao Yao.
In Chinese medicine, peony is for “moving blood” with associated stagnancy and pain. It is useful for menstrual cramps with scanty flow, for removing cysts and as an antispasmodic and analgesic for painful tight muscles, cramping and tension. Peony relaxes and calms and I have seen it work powerfully for folks who feel like there is a block of emotional energy that is dammed up. I have seen people cry from taking just a few drops and have noted that ability to release emotions such as grief and sorrow in myself as well via work with herbalist Scott Kloos.
Traditionally (white) peony is used in formulas with 5-10 grams of the plant. When decocted like that it acts to nourish the whole system and is useful for that hot frazzled type that has used up much of their “juice” in life die to stress, partying, etc. They may show signs of irritability, anger, general debility, dizziness, vertigo and blood shot eyes or what the Chinese would call “Liver yin deficient.”
Dosage: Generally as tincture 10 drops to 2 ml to 3 x/day. As a root in a decoction, upwards of 5-10 grams of the root decocted for 40 minutes, generally in formulas.
Contraindications: Avoid with sedatives.