Most people don’t know that the beautiful peony plant that can be purchased at any home and garden center is also a very old and powerful medicinal plant. Dating back to the ancient Greeks, the plant has been used as a treatment of epilepsy and to promote menstruation. Other European countries used the root of the peony plant as an anti-spasmodic and a muscle relaxer. The Chinese used White Peony, or Bai Shao, in the treatment of hypertension, chest pain, muscle cramping and spasms and to help break a fever. The White Peony is referring to color of the root after it has been processed, not the flower.
The Red Peony, or Chi Shao, has been used in the augmentation of poor blood. It has properties that make it useful against nosebleed problems, excessive bleeding, and heavy menstruation, leading one to believe it has a natural blood thickening agent.
But has this backyard plant with the breathtaking blooms withstood the test of time and showed muster against the medications used in today’s pharmaceutical world?
The extract of Peony is still available today in capsule form from many herbal stores and suppliers. Its most common use now is for enhancing mental capabilities and improving memory. Among other uses, it is believed to help prevent liver damage from chemical toxins, treat viral hepatitis, Lower cholesterol levels, normalize blood pressure, Improve fertility in women with polycystic ovary syndrome, and relieve muscle cramps due to diabetes, dialysis, and cirrhosis of the liver. So, I would have to say that the efficacy of Peony root has withstood the test of time.
For you hardcore herb enthusiasts, peony root can be drunk as a tea. A simple decoction of Peony root can be made by using 1 ounce of dried root to 1 pint boiled water.
Before pharmaceutical companies, all medicine was performed with the aid of plants, herbs, roots, tree bark, and the like. Mind you, I’m not implying that we were better off 150 year ago, but I am saying that many of the “miracle drugs” of today were based off of the chemical compounds of naturally healing herbs.
Take a look out your kitchen window. The plants and greenery you see out there are most likely some that can be used to treat your ailments. Even those that we now perceive as weeds have some of the most effective medicinal uses. There has always been a classic duel of beauty vs. utility. In the case of the Peony, this plant has both!