Disclaimer: This Materia Medica is provided for informational purposes only and should not replace professional medical advice. Please consult with a qualified healthcare practitioner or herbalist before using any herbal remedies.
Materia Medica: White Peony (Paeonia lactiflora)
Introduction: White Peony, scientifically known as Paeonia lactiflora, is a revered herb in traditional Chinese medicine (TCM) and has been used for centuries in various herbal traditions worldwide. This comprehensive materia medica explores the properties, uses, preparations, dosage, contraindications, and safety considerations of White Peony, from the perspective of a professional herbalist.
- Family: Paeoniaceae
- Common Names: White Peony, Bai Shao, Chinese Peony, Paeonia alba
- Parts Used: Root (radix)
- Habitat: Native to China, White Peony is cultivated extensively in various regions, including Europe and North America.
- Taste: Bitter, slightly pungent
- Nature: Cool
- Meridians Affected: Liver, Spleen
- Actions: Tonifies blood, nourishes the liver, regulates menstruation, calms the spirit, astringes fluids, and clears heat.
- Blood Tonic: White Peony is renowned for its ability to nourish and invigorate blood. It is commonly used to treat blood deficiency conditions, including anemia, pale complexion, and dizziness.
- Menstrual Disorders: It is a key herb for regulating the menstrual cycle. White Peony is used to relieve irregular periods, ease menstrual pain, and address conditions such as menorrhagia (heavy menstrual bleeding).
- Liver Health: In TCM, White Peony is considered a liver tonic. It can help alleviate liver stagnation and associated symptoms like irritability, mood swings, and breast tenderness.
- Pain Relief: White Peony possesses analgesic properties and can be used to reduce pain associated with muscle cramps, abdominal discomfort, and headaches.
- Anxiety and Insomnia: The herb has a calming effect on the spirit, making it valuable in treating anxiety, irritability, and insomnia, especially when these issues are related to blood deficiency.
- Skin Health: Some herbalists use White Peony to improve skin conditions, as it purifies the blood and promotes a healthy complexion.
- Digestive Health: It can be used to alleviate digestive discomfort caused by liver qi stagnation, bloating, and abdominal distension.
- Immune Support: White Peony has been used traditionally to strengthen the immune system, making it useful during convalescence.
Preparations and Dosage:
- Decoction: 9-15 grams of dried White Peony root simmered in 3 cups of water for 20-30 minutes, usually in combination with other herbs.
- Powder: 3-6 grams as part of a larger formula.
- Tincture: 2-4 ml, three times daily.
- Capsules: Follow the manufacturer’s instructions.
Contraindications and Safety Considerations:
- White Peony is generally considered safe when used in recommended doses.
- Avoid use during acute infections or with a fever.
- Consult a qualified herbalist or healthcare provider before using White Peony during pregnancy or breastfeeding.
- There are no known severe side effects or drug interactions with White Peony.
Summary: White Peony, Bai Shao, is a versatile and valuable herb in traditional herbal medicine systems, especially TCM. Its ability to tonify blood, regulate menstruation, calm the spirit, and alleviate liver stagnation makes it an indispensable herb for addressing a wide range of health concerns. As with any herbal remedy, it is essential to consult with a knowledgeable herbalist or healthcare provider for proper guidance and personalized treatment.