Home > Herbal Glossary > Chinese Herb List > Radix Paeoniae Alba
>>Where Does It Grow?
>>Nature and Flavor
>>Identified Active Components / Major Chemical Constituents
>>Drug actions in TCM
>>Traditional Use in TCM
>>Pharmacological Actions
>>Administration and Dosage
>>Adverse Effect, Side Effects and Cautions

white peony root

White peony root

Latin Name: Radix Paeoniae Alba
Common Name: White peony root
Scientific Name: Paeonia lactiflora Pall.
Chinese Name: ը
Pinyin Name: bai shao yao
White peony root belongs to the root of Paeonia lactiflora Pall., a perennial herbal plant of the Ranunculaceae family. The root is prescribed in dried, fried or alcohol processed form clinically. [1],[2]
Where Does It Grow?
White peony root is cultivated widely throughout China. The major production provinces are Zhejiang, Anhui and Sichuan. Others like Shandong, Guizhou, Hunan, Hubei, Gansu, Shanxi and Henan are also produced. The production of Zhejinag is regarded as the best quality; Anhui province is most productive, and the second is Sichuan province.[1],[6]
Nature and Flavor
White peony root is mild cold in nature, bitter and sour in flavor, and mainly manifests its therapeutic actions in the liver and spleen meridians.[3],[4]
Identified Active Components / Major Chemical Constituents
White peony root is rich in monoterpene glycosides, such as paeoniflorin, oxy-paeoniflorin, benzoylpaooniflorin, albiflorin R1, paeoniflorigenone, galloylpaeoniflorin, (Z)-(1S,5R)-]-pinen-10-yl-]-vicianoside, lacioflorin, paeonilactones (A-C), & daucos-terol. The root also has hydrolyzed tannic acid like 1,2,3,6-tetra-O-galloyl-]-D-glucose, (+)-catechin and 1,2,3,4,6-penta-O-galloyl-]-D-glucose. It also contains ]-siiosierol, terpenoids and 33 types of volatile oil like benzoic acid and paeonol. The root produced in Sichuan Province has an acidic substance that can inhibit staphylococcus aureus. [4],[5],[6]

In the Pharmacopoeia of People's Republic of China (2010 Edition) - Part I, the level of paeoniflorin should not less than 1.25%, as the standard quality of white peony root.
Drug actions in TCM
White peony root enriches blood, regulates menses, constraints yin, pacifies liver, relieves pain, and arrests sweating.[3],[4]
Traditional Use in TCM

White peony root is often used to treat sallow complexion, irregular menses, menstrual pain, excessive menses, sweating problems, pain in the chest, stomach, abdomen, and limbs, and headache and dizziness. [3],[4],[6]

  • White peony root is commonly used for enriching blood and regulating menses
    Blood deficiency that leads to a sallow complexion, dizziness, and ear ringing can be treated by white peony root along with rehmannia root, angelica root and Sichuan lovage rhizome. The blood tonic effect can be stronger, if processed fleeceflower root and donkey-hide gelatin are added in the remedy. White peony root is often used to regulate menses. For example, when the root works with rehmannia root, angelica root, baical skullcap root and donkey-hide gelatin, early periods or excess menses that caused by virtual heat can be relieved. When it works with processed rehmannia root, angelica root, Sichuan lovage rhizome, Chinese safflower and peach kernel, late periods or scanty menses that caused by blood deficiency can be relieved. The root is an ingredient of the well-known formula Four-substance Decoction, which can be used to relieve menstrual pain if in combination with processed nutgrass flatsedge rhizome and corydalis rhizome. For dysfunctional uterine bleeding (DUB), white peony root may be selected along with rehmannia root, angelica root, yerbadetajo herb and donkey-hide gelatin.

  • White peony root arrests sweating
    The root works with cassia twig, fresh ginger and Chinese dates to treat excess sweating that due to cold and wind weakened the superficial portion of the body; in case if the symptom is serious, aconite root should be added in the remedy too. For different sweating problems, the root can work with herbs like astragalus root, pseudostellaria root, black soybean coat, oyster shell, and blighted wheat.

  • White peony root soothes liver, moderates acute reactions, and relieves pain, which become an important ingredient for painful spasms
    White peony root will be the first choice, and is usually paired with liquorice root to relieve various muscular spasms, such as in the stomach, intestines, lower legs, face, diaphragm and internal organs. For example, rib side pain can select white peony root along with bupleurum root, bitter orange and liquorice root to soothe liver, relieve qi stagnation and arrest the pain; cold pain in the abdomen can select the root along with cassia twig, angelica root, liquorice root and maltose to warm meridians, activate blood and arrest the pain. For other painful spasms that are associated with excess cold, cassia bark can be selected to work with the above paired herbs, and if it is associated with excess heat, baical skullcap root can be selected to work with. For disharmony between the spleen and liver, white peony root can work with ledebouriella root, largehead atractylodes rhizome and dried tangerine peel to relieve the abdominal pain and diarrhea. Dysentery is often regarded as damp-heat accumulated in the lower burner, white peony root can work with baical skullcap root, golden thread rhizome, costus root and betel nut to relieve the diarrhea, abdominal pain and tenesmus.

  • White peony root enriches yin and pacifies liver
    Hyperactive liver yang leads to headache and dizziness, white peony root can work with rehmannia root, achyranthes root, ochre minerals and oyster shell to enrich blood and pacify liver. Excessive heat in the liver meridian that generates internal wind may lead to high fever, delirium and convulsions, white peony root can work with antelope horn, gambir vine stem and fresh rehmannia root for relief. White peony root is also a common herb for yin deficiency and yang hyperactive type of hypertension.
Pharmacological Actions
Studies have showed that white peony root has effects in arresting muscle spasm, relieving pain and fever, anti-inflammatory, anti-hypoxia, immune regulation, liver protection, improving blood circulation of the heart, expanding blood vessels, inhibiting blood platelet clotting, anti-tumor, regulating blood sugar, anti-septic and anti-aging.[4],[5]
White peony root administered by gavage to mice, the LD50 was found to be 81.1g/kg. The glycosides of the white peony root that administered by gavage and abdominal injection to mice, the LD50 was found to be 2.5g/kg and 0.159g/kg respectively. The paeonol of the white peony root that administered by gavage to mice, the LD50 was found to be 3.43g/kg.[4]
Administration and Dosage
For decoction, the usual dose of white peony root is 612g, it can be higher to 1530g if necessary. The herb is also administered in pill, powder and tincture forms. Dried white peony root is usually selected for checking yin and pacifying the liver; fried or wine processed white peony root is usually selected for moderating acute reactions, enriching blood and regulating menses.[4],[6]
Adverse Effect, Side Effects and Cautions
Clinical demonstrations show that white peony root decocted within the suggested dose is safe, even it is decocted in high dose (below 30g) and consumed for a long period, individuals are unlikely to have adverse reactions.[4],[6]
1. Li Jiashi (editor-in-chief), Chinese Medicine Identification, Shanghai Scientific and Technical Publishers, 2000-2.
2. Lui Daiquan (editor-in-chief), Chinese Herbal Medicine, Shanghai Scientific and Technical Publishers, 2000-6.
3. Tao Yufeng, Clinical Herbal Medicine, Peoples Medical Publishing House, 2005-5.
4. Chen Pian, Clinical Application of Tonifying Herbs, Second Military Medical University Press, 2008-8.
5. Zhao Zhongzhen & Xiao Peigen (editor-in-chief), Contemporary Medicinal Herbal Glossary, Hong Kong Jockey Club Institute of Chinese Medicine, 2006-8.
6. http://www.zysj.com.cn/zhongyaocai/yaocai_b/baishao.htmlub Institute of Chinese Medicine, 2006-8.