Tree Peonies As Medicine – Ben Cao Medical Book


Tree peonies, also known as Mudan (牡丹, 木芍药, 花王) in Chinese, are long-lived deciduous woody shrubs native to China. The plants belonging to this group have been cultivated for millennia in China, initially only as a source of traditional Chinese medicine (CTM) particularly the bark of its roots is used as 牡丹皮 (mu dan pi). Tree peony root bark is helpful in clearing heat, cooling blood, removing stasis and treating various skin diseases, it can also be prescribed with other herbs to heal fevers, colds and nervous disorders.

Odour & Nature:

Pungent, cold-natured, non-toxic,


Tree peony root bark functions by influencing the heart, liver and kidney.

Indications & Formulas:

A decoction of tree peony root bark is taken internally to heal skin ulcers.

Powdered tree peony root bark and radix sileris are taken orally with warm wine to treat hernia in small intestine.

A decoction of tree peony root bark and dried purified resin of Toxicodendron vernicifluum is taken to treat sepsis in pregnant women.

Pounded tree peony root bark and gadflies are taken orally with warm wine to promote blood flow to remove stasis.

Boiled water with pounded tree peony root bark is taken to treat internal haemorrhage.

Application in Modern Medicine:

Recent studies show that tree peony root bark has anti-bacterial, anti-inflammatory, anti-allergy, anti-tumor, bleeding stopping, blood stasis removing effects. It also promotes phagocytosis and improve the function of our immune system.

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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