Home / Chinese Herb / WHITE PEONY ROOT [白芍, BAI SHAO]


Name : White Peony RootWhite-peony-root-(Baishao)_opt

Chinese Name : 白芍

Latin Name : Radix Paeoniae Alba


The herb is the root of Paeonia lactiflora Pall. Of the family Ranunculaceae. It grows chiefly in the Anhui, Sichuan, and Zhejiang provinces of China. The root is dug in autumn or summer, and washed clean after removal of the lateral roots and skin, boiled, dried in the sun, then sliced and used unprocessed or stir baked with rice wine as processed medicine.

Peony root is highly valued by Chinese doctors, who use it as a tonic, alterative, astringent, and general remedy in disease of women. White peony root is commonly used to nourish the blood, regulate menstrual flow, and to relieve muscular spasm, facial spasm, rest-less legs, and premenstrual syndrome (PMS) spasm and pain.

Use of White Peony Root in TCM

Bitter and sour intaste, and slightly cold, it acts on the liver and spleen meridians.

Effects, Medicinal Uses, and Combinations

  1. Nourishes blood and regulates menstruation : for abnormal menstrual flow, dysmenorrheal, metrorrhagia, and metrostaxis, white peony root is used with Chinese angelica root, chuan xiong rhizome, and processed rehmannia root, as in the patented recipe Si Wu Tang (R-15).
  2. Relieves spasms and pain :
    • For abdominal spasms and pain, as well as pain in the hypochondriac region due to stagnation of Liver-Qi, white peony root is combined with bupleurum root, cyperus tuber, cnidium, and bitter orange.
    • For gastrointestinal pain and spasm of the calf muscles, it is used with cinnamon twig, licorice root, and ginger, as in the patented recipe Xiao Jian Zhong Tang.
  3. Relieves liver hyperactivity : for headaches. Hypertension, and vertigo due to liver-yang hyperactivity, white peony root is blended with dried rehmannia root, achyranthes root, and red ochre (dai zhen shi) , as in the recipe Jian Ling Tang, or it is blended with chrysanthemum flower and tribulus.
  4. Induces dieresis : to treat retention of urine and body fluid, oliguria, and chronic nephritis, white peony root is mixed with poria, ginger, atractylodes rhizome, and processed aconite, as in the patented recipe Zhen Wu Tang.


In a decoction of 6 to 12 g.


People with yang exhaustion, manifestations of deficiency, or liver disorders should not take white peony. It is incompatible with veratrum root.

Side Effects and Toxicity

The therapeutic dose does not produce side effects or toxicity. An overdose or long-term use may damage liver function.

Chemical Constituents

Peony root contains about 1 to 2 percent of paeoniflorin (a monoterpene glycoside) and benzoylpaeoniflorin, paeonol, paeonin, alblflorin, oxypaeoniflorin, and paeoniflorigenone. Other ingredients including pentagalloylglucose, paeonilactone A, B, and C, riterpenoids, sitosterol, a natural polysaccharide, peonan SA, peonan SB, acidic polysaccharide peonan PA, and tannin were also isolated.

Pharmacological Findings

  1. White peony root extract is mildly antispasmodic in laboratory-tested animals.
  2. It exhibits significant antiatherogenic activity in cholesterol-fed rabbits.
  3. White peony prohibits excess production of stomach acid and prevents ulcer formation.
  4. Peony is a sedative, hypnotic, and antispasmotic.
  5. Peony and paeoniflorin are strong analgesics.
  6. It inhibits platelet aggregation and increases fibrinolytic activity. Peony also has been shown to prolong prothrombin time.
  7. Peony has shown vessel dilation and transient blood pressure-lowering properties.
  8. It exhibits antimicrobial and anti-inflammatory activities in rats.
  9. At an oral dose of 1 mg/kg in rats, paeoiflorin attenuates the performance deficit produced by scopolamine in the radial maze. Also, the glycoside showed reduced learning impairment in aged rats. An oral dose of albiflorin, pentagalloylglucose, and aqueous extract of paeonia showed inhibition of convulsion activity induced by the drug pentylenetetrazol in rats.

Clinical Findings

  • The effects of a peony and licorice combination on polycystic ovary syndrome was specifically examined in Japan. After twenty-four weeks, the LH to FSH ratio was significantly lower in the treatment group over the control group. This combinations also promotes fertility.
  • Peony is used for intestinal smooth muscle spasm, dysmenorrheal, and vaginal muscle spasm.
  • Peony is good for treating muscle cramps and epilepsy.
  • It is used to treat menstrual dysfunction and leucorrhea.