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Eastern Medicine & Natural Healing, Health for the Body, Herbs, Supplements, Traditional Chinese Medicine, Women's Health

White Peony Root – Radix Paeoniae Alba

June 3, 2015
White Peony

It’s no secret that the peony is one of my favorite flowers and I’m sure a favorite for many of you! I used it as my logo for several reasons. Peonies are actually perennial plants that can live for many years. If healthy and cared for properly, they survive the winter season without needing any special treatment and blossom every spring.  Peonies are beautiful and fragrant, and their roots have been used for years as an herbal remedy for anti-aging and regulating the female hormone cycle. This flower is essentially a low-maintenance hearty plant, that produces gorgeous blooms during spring, but also possesses powerful properties in its roots for your health. What is not to love about the peony?! Let’s take a look at the White Peony Root and its medicinal properties.

White Peony Root Properties

  • White peony root’s pharmaceutical name is Radix Paeoniae Alba.
  • It is a tonic herb that builds and cleanses your blood.
  • It has a slightly cold thermal nature.
  • It has a bitter and sour taste which is associated with the heart and liver. Review the Five Flavors here.
  • It affects and enters the Liver and Spleen channels. (Remember from last week’s post on Spring – the Liver is the organ most affected during this season).

White Peony Root Functions

White peony root is a blood tonic. It not only nourishes but cleanses and purifies our blood. It is used to regulate menstruation and the female hormonal cycle, and is commonly used to treat women’s disorders with symptoms like menstrual cramps, abnormal vaginal discharge, and uterine bleeding.

It also has the ability to relax both smooth and striated muscles, which help to alleviate cramps and spasms throughout the body. Most notably it is known for its effectiveness in relieving menstrual cramps as well as leg and foot cramps. It contains a pain-reducing agent and has a calming effect. In women, it works effectively as an emotional stabilizer. PMS anyone?

White peony root also soothes and calms an overactive Liver (too much Liver yang) and alleviates pain, especially in the flank, chest, or abdomen. Pain in these areas usually point towards Liver Qi stagnation or a disharmony between the Liver and Spleen. It has been used for headache and dizziness also due to imbalanced ascending Liver yang (to review the Qi direction and pathology of the Liver, read here).

This herb has the ability to preserve the yin in our bodies, which is helpful in anyone with yin deficiency symptoms (e.g., symptoms seen especially as we get older such as dry and cracked skin/lips, insomnia with night sweats, dry mouth, dry and brittle hair, and low back soreness). It can also help stop continuous sweating seen with wind-cold problems (review wind patterns here). Hence it has a nurturing and protective function. In fact, white peony root is considered to be a premium anti-aging herb in China and used to promote beauty. Since it purifies blood, it also purifies the skin (your skin and hair are indicators of how healthy your blood is – review properties of blood here). If used over time, it should make your skin smoother and softer.

White Peony Root Combinations

Usually white peony root is used in conjunction with other herbs for optimal effects. It is actually known more as a supporting cast member, rather than the star of the show.

1) Blood Tonic – White peony root is usually combined with Dang Gui (a well known Chinese blood tonic and gynecological regulator) and Rehmannia (a yin, jing, Kidney, and blood tonic. This combination helps dizziness, blurred vision, and dysmenorrhea (painful periods). For these combos, I like to use these formulations from Dragon Herbs:

  • Women’s Jing contains Dang Gui, Rehmannia, and White Peony Root, among other herbs that help support a healthy female reproductive system, improve pelvic circulation, while also benefiting the Liver and Kidney.
  • Magu’s Secret has Dang Gui, White Peony Root, as well as Schizandra Berry, Longan Fruit, and Goji Berry, all combined as a women’s tonic and essence/jing tonic. This formula is mildly yin.
  • Magu’s Treasure has the same herb formulation as Magu’s Secret above plus additional herbs from Deer Antler, Placenta, Royal Jelly, and Pearl. The addition of Deer Antler, Placenta, and Royal Jelly make this more yang, but in general is a balanced formula especially good for anti-aging and post-partum conditions.
  • Profound Essence has Dang Gui, Rehmannia, and White Peony Root, plus herbs that tonify Kidney Essence (yin and yang).

2) Liver tension, Liver Qi Stagnation, overactive Liver Yang – For these conditions, white peony root is usually combined with Bupleurum Root. Bupleurum root, although not a tonic herb, is extremely useful for its ability to relieve Liver tension, digestive problems, and associated flank and abdominal pain. It also has detoxifying and anti-microbial properties. Bupleurum, in combination with other herbs, has the ability to clear stagnation anywhere in the body. This combination can relieve spasms, muscle tension, lumps, bleeding from heat, and menstrual irregularity. Together, these two herbs are cold and detoxifying. I like to use these formulations from Dragon Herbs:

  • Bupleurum and Peony – This formulation helps balance hormones and treat PMS, menstrual cramps, and water retention seen with the menstrual cycle. It also nurtures the blood and supports the Kidney.
  • Easy Qi – This formulation contains bupleurum and peony as well as cinnamon twig and pueraria, which help to increase circulation and ease tension in the upper neck and shoulders. It is great as an “anti-tension” remedy and for those with increased stress and trouble sleeping.

Contraindications of White Peony Root: This herb is on the colder side so use with caution if you are excessively cold or are yang deficient.

I hope that you now have a better understanding of the healing properties of this herb! Use in good health!

In health and wellness,
Dr Elain

References:

The Ancient Wisdom of the Chinese Tonic Herbs by Ron Teeguarden
Chinese Herbal Medicine Materia Medica by Dan Bensky and Andrew Gamble

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