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Peony (Paeonia lactiflora)

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Peony Overview:

Peony is a common Chinese herbal medicine for treating hormone conditions in both men and women, as well as cardiovascular disease and muscle cramps. It's named after the mythological physician of the gods, Paeos, who was said to cure Pluto and other Greek gods injured during the Trojan war.

There are 3 main forms of peony in herbal medicine, tree peony, red peony, and white peony. These differentiations have nothing to do with the color of the flower, but the color of the roots after preparation. White peony is the most common, made from the roots of the plant without the bark attached. It's most commonly made from the species Paeonia lactiflora, but can be made from other species as well.

+ Indications

Internally

  • Angina
  • Candida
  • Epilepsy
  • Fungal infection
  • Hirsutism
  • Infertility
  • Menstrual dysfunction
  • Ovarian fibroids
  • Polycystic ovarian syndrome (PCOS)
  • Poor liver function
  • Poor memory
  • Rheumatoid Arthritis
  • Uterine fibroids

Topically

  • Wounds
  • Fungal infection
  • Pain
  • Candida

+ Contraindications

  • Caution in combination with loose bowels.
  • Caution advised in combination with blood thinners due to potential for additive effect.

Main Herbal Actions:

  • Anti-Androgenic
  • Antinflammatory
  • Antispasmodic
  • Aromatase Inducer
  • Dopaminergic
  • Nootropic
  • Ovarian Tonic
  • Sedative (Mild)
  • Uterine Tonic
 

How Is Peony Used?

Peony is most commonly used for treating PMS symptoms, poly cystic ovarian syndrome (PCOS), muscle cramps, and epilepsy. It is rarely used alone, as it is thought to have stronger effects in combination with other herbs like licorice or black cohosh.

 

Traditional Uses:

Peony is a common herb in the traditional Chinese herbal materia medica. it's considered to be specific for the liver, providing a soothing effect on liver energy and improves overall function. It's thought to nourish the blood, and is one of the great womens tonics, especially in combination with licorice.

Compared to Angelica sinensis, Peony is used in much the same way, however, peony is used when the condition involved "heat", while Angelica sinensis is used when the condition involves "cold".

 

Weekly Dose

Part Used

  • Roots

Family Name

  • Ranunculaceae

Distribution

  • Originated from Southern Europe, but has spread all over the world as a decorative garden flower.

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Constituents of Interest

  • Paeoniflorin
  • Proanthocyanidins
  • Flavonoids
  • Terpenoids
  • Tannins
  • Complex Polysaccharides

Common Names

  • Peony
  • White Peony
  • Red Peony
  • Tree Peony
  • Bai Shao Yao (China)

Quality

  • Cold (Slightly)

Pregnancy

  • Unknown

Taste

  • Bitter, sour

Duration of Use

  • Long term use is acceptable.
 

Research Overview:

Still compiling research.

 

Botanical Info:

Peony is the only member of the Paeoniaceae family. In the past it was included in the Ranunculaceae family insteat along with over 2000 other species of plants. There are roughly 33 different species of peony worldwide.

Medicinally, there are 4 main species used;

  • Paeonia suffruticosa (Tree peony)
  • Paeonia lactiflora (Chinese peony)
  • Paeonia veitchii (Chinese peony)
  • Paeonia obovata (Chinese peony)
 

Clinical Applications Of Peony:

Peony is useful as a smooth muscle relaxant due to its ability to interfere with acetlcholine in the neuromuscular junctions.

It's also a fairly reliable aromatase inducer, useful for improving the production of estrogen from testosterone, and E1 and E2 to 2-hydroxy catechol estrogens.

 

Cautions:

Caution advised in combination with blood thinners.

 

References:

  1. Bensky, D., Gamble, A., & Kaptchuk, T. J. (2004). Chinese herbal medicine: materia medica (Vol. 3, p. 1004). Seattle: Eastland Press.

  2. Kimura, M., Kimura, I., Takahashi, K., Muroi, M., Yoshizaki, M., Kanaoka, M., & Kitagawa, I. (1984). Blocking effects of blended paeoniflorin or its related compounds with glycyrrhizin on neuromuscular junctions in frog and mouse. The Japanese Journal of Pharmacology, 36(3), 275-282.

  3. Bone, K. (2003). A Clinical Guide to Blending Liquid Herbs E-Book: Herbal Formulations for the Individual Patient. Elsevier Health Sciences.

  4. Takeuchi, T., Nishii, O., Okamura, T., & Yaginuma, T. (1991). Effect of paeoniflorin, glycyrrhizin and glycyrrhetic acid on ovarian androgen production. The American journal of Chinese medicine, 19(01), 73-78.

  5. Grant, P., & Ramasamy, S. (2012). An update on plant derived anti-androgens. International journal of endocrinology and metabolism, 10(2), 497.

 

Author:

Justin Cooke

The Sunlight Experiment

(November 2018)


Recent Blog Posts:

Manuka (Leptospermum scoparium)

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Manuka Summary

In New Zealand, where manuka trees grow, the Maori consider male tea tree plants "Kanuka" and the female plants "Manuka". The plant is regarded very highly in this culture as a medicinal species.

The most well-known form of manuka is in manuka honey. This is a honey made by bees feasting primarily on manuka bushes. The honey has an impressive antibacterial profile when made from these plants. This is also reflected in the herb itself, which has been shown to have potent antibacterial, antifungal, and antiviral activity.

Most of the medicinal benefits of the plant come from its essential oil content, which can vary a lot depending on the region the plant was grown in.

 

+ Indications

Internally

  • Anxiety
  • Candida
  • Cold/Flu
  • Colic
  • Coughs
  • Diarrhea
  • Dysentery
  • Dyspepsia
  • Eczema
  • Fatigue
  • Fevers
  • Gingivitis Mouthwash
  • Indigestion
  • Inflammation
  • Insomnia
  • Irritable Bowel Syndrome IBS
  • Lethargy
  • Menorrhagia
  • Psoriasis
  • Upper respiratory tract infection

Topically

  • Anal fissures
  • Bacterial infection
  • Burns
  • Eczema
  • Fluid retention
  • Haemorrhoids
  • Impetigo
  • Muscle sprains
  • Slow healing ulcers
  • Wounds

+ Contraindications

Avoid long-term use alongside food. Tannins may impede mineral absorption.

Herbal Actions:

  • Anti-inflammatory
  • Antibacterial
  • Antifungal
  • Antispasmodic
  • Anxiolytic
  • Diaphoretic
  • Diuretic
  • Febrifuge
  • Sedative
  • Astringent
 

How Is Manuka Used?

Internally, manuka is used to treat gastrointestinal conditions like diarrhea, colic, inflammatory bowel syndrome, and dysentery. It's also used for urinary tract infection, anxiety, and cold/flu infections.

Manuka is used topically for its antibacterial, and vulnerary actions. It's used to treat slow healing skin and bone injuries, bacterial infections, candida, and eczema. It can be gargled for gingivitis, or for general oral hygiene.

Manuka honey is another common form of the plant. It's become so popular worldwide, it's been standardised by the phenol content. This is expressed as a unique manuka factor (UMF) value set by the Active Manuka Honey Association (AMHA). Anything over UMF 5 is considered strong enough to kill MRSA.

 

Herb Details

Weekly Dose

Part Used

  • Leaves, Flowers, Bark

Family Name

  • Myrtaceae

Distribution

  • New Zealand

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Constituents of Interest

  • Leptospermone
  • Sesquiterpenes
  • Tannins
  • Citronellal

Common Names

  • Manuka
  • Tea Tree
  • New Zealand Tea Tree

Quality

  • Neutral-Warm

Pregnancy

  • Unknown

Taste

  • Spicy

Duration of Use

  • Long term use is acceptable, but should be taken away from food.
 

Botanical Information

Manuka is a member of the Myrtaceae family of plants. This family contains as many as 133 different genera, and around 3800 different species, many of which are medicinally relevant.

 

Research Overview:

Still compiling research

 

Clinical Applications Of Manuka:

Manuka is useful both internally and topically. It's been shown to be an effective antibacterial agent for various forms of bacteria (including Staphylococcus). It's also an effective antifungal and antiviral (including HSV). The antibacterial effects were the most noteable, with only some chemotypes of Manuka showing potent antifungal benefits.

Manuka can be used for nearly any form of bacterial infections both topically and internally, as well as wounds, ulcers, and gastrointestinal inflammation or infection. It's also useful for skin inflammation like eczema or psoriasis. The muscle relaxant effects make it useful for injuries, muscle tension, colic, and insomnia.

 

Cautions:

Tannin content may bind to minerals in the gut and prevent absorption.

 

Author:

Justin Cooke

The Sunlight Experiment

(Updated November 2018)

 

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