Another wonderful herb that finds frequent mention in classic Chinese medicine texts for its many wonderful healing properties is Bai Shao, more commonly known as the White Peony Root. Scientifically called Paeonia lactiflora Pall, it belongs to the Paeoniaceae family of flowering plants. The “root” section of the peony is highly regarded by herbalists and Traditional Chinese Medicine practitioners for its emotional stabilizing and mental focus benefits (among other benefits, including helping promote one’s immune system). We loved it because along with the other herbs in our Emotional Balance product, it makes us feel good.
Origin, Flavor, and Uses
The peony or the shaoyao plant is not just cultivated for its beautiful flowers but also for its medicinal roots. This herb is obtained by digging the roots of a 3-4 year old cultivated white peony plant in the summer and autumn, which is then washed and cooked in warm water and finally dried in the sun. The end result is a peeled root with a white to pink appearance, unlike the red peony root with its outer layer and red color intact.
The taste of the white peony root, like many Chinese herbs, ranges from bitter, to sour, to sweet. This health-giving root has been in cultivation since 900 BC, and is widely grown in the Zhejiang, Anhui, and Sichuan provinces of China. It is mostly consumed in the form of herbal teas or encapsulated as a supplement.
Harmonizing Support for Blood & Liver
The white peony root is best used as a tonic for blood and as a “heat reducing” (or “heat removing”) herb for the liver. Apart from nourishing the blood and neutralizing a hyperactive or stagnant liver qi, according to Traditional Chinese Medicine methodology and theory, white peony root helps with abdominal pain, muscular spasms, regularizing the monthly cycle. The benefits continue: Chinese medicine practitioners also believe it also has an astringent effect on sweating, and is also antibacterial, antispasmodic, and anti-inflammatory in nature. Also, as per this study that was supported by the National Natural Science Foundation of China, the essential glycosides present in the white peony root can greatly benefit people suffering from autoimmune diseases.
Emotional Balance & Women’s Formula
The benefits of the white peony root are much, such that we’ve included it in two of our formulas: it’s a featured herb in Emotional Balance, while one of four herbs found in Women’s Formula which are based off the class “Free & Easy Wanderer” (xiao yao san) and “Four Substance Decoction” (si wu tang) formulas. Foundational combinations in their own rights but bolstered by the nearly 3,000 year heritage of the white peony root.