Peony Root As Medicine – Ben Cao Medical Book


Native to Asia, Europe and Western North America, the peony or paeony (Shao Yao, 芍药) is a flowering plant in the genus Paeonia, the only genus in the family Paeoniaceae. Peonies are one of the most popular garden plants in temperate regions. The root of peony is a major herb in traditional Chinese medicine (CTM) in relieving muscular spasm and killing pain, it is also used as a diuretic.

Odour & Nature:

Bitter, neutral, non-toxic,


Peony roots functions by influencing the liver and spleen.

Indications & Formulas:

A decoction of peony roots, Zhi Gan Cao (processed licorice root, radix glycyrrhizae preparata) is taken to relieve pain of deficiency-cold type.

Medicated wine with peony roots and tiger-bone is taken to cope with painful joints.

Powdered peony roots and licorice root is taken with water to heal swollen ankles and swollen feet.

A decoction of peony roots and licorice root can effectively treat diabetes.

Sichuan Lovage Rhizome can be prescribed with red peony root and peach kernel to relieve missed periods and menstrual pain that due to blood stasis.

Powdered peony root and root of cynanchum atratum can be taken with wine to cope with urinary incontinence during or after pregnancy.

A decoction of curculigo orchioides root, epimedium, cassia twig, safflower (Carthamus tinctorius), peony root, Sichuan lovage rhizome, the dried rhizome of rehmannia, prepared rhizome of rehmannia and processed licorice root can offer a therapy for scleroderma (a group of rare diseases that involve the hardening and tightening of the skin and connective tissues).

Ointment made from salvia miltiorrhiza roots, Angelica root and peony root can be applied on affected part to treat acute mastitis.

The Ben Cao Medical Book (also known as Compendium of Materia Medica or Ben Cao Gang Mu; Chinese: 本草纲目) is the most famous and comprehensive medical book ever written in the history of traditional Chinese medicine (TCM). Compiled and written by Li Shi-zhen (1518~1593), a medical expert of the Ming Dynasty (1368-1644) over 27 years.

The Ben Cao Medical Book records and describes all the plants, animals, minerals, and other objects that were believed to have medicinal properties in TCM. The book reflects the pharmaceutical achievements and developments of East Asia before the 16th century. On the basis of his predecessors’ achievements in the pharmacological studies, Li contributed further by supplementing and rectifying many past mistakes and misconception in relate to nature of many medicinal substances and causes of various illnesses. Charles Darwin, originator of the biological theory of evolution, regards the book as the “ancient Chinese encyclopedia”.

Disclaimer: The Ben Cao Medical Book is translated by The information on this website is not intended to replace a one-on-one relationship with a qualified health care professional and is not intended as medical advice. It is intended as a sharing of CTM knowledge and information from the research and experience from the author Li Shi-zhen. Kindly be alert that the CTM knowledge and ancient formulas given above are likely NOT medically proven and may contain misconceptions.

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