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The Power of White Peony Root (Bai Shao)

By Nell Smircina /

The Power of White Peony Root (Bai Shao)

Bai Shao, or White Peony Root, is powerful and versatile. Herbs are endlessly diverse but even though there are so many, it is very common to see a few key herbs that seem to pop up in so many formulas due to their wide reaching functions.  I use Bai Shao a lot as a practitioner, particularly because I live in LA. I say that because it happens to help with some very common issues here…but I doubt they are exclusive to Los Angeles. We are endlessly stressed with the traffic, fatigued from all the stress, and everyone seems to have a stomach issue that they are treating by doing dietary alternatives. Stress, fatigue and the possible stomach issues are issues most patients have in common, which is what makes White Peony Root such a versatile herb. It addresses key issues without being too harsh. What I really enjoy about it is how mild it is, which means it can be an amazing stand alone or compliment to a formula.

How Does Bai Shao Work?

The action of this herb may be best explained by an example. You’re in a meeting and you’ve worked on the prep for weeks and are feeling stressed. You’re already exhausted because this stress has been doing a number on your body. The longer you sit there, the more stressed you become, and you start to feel nauseous and you lose your appetite. Once the meeting is over, you feel such a relief it seems like the tension lets go and a weight is lifted. You no longer feel tight, but you feel exhausted and could probably pass on food because the stress has already created a reaction in your body that will take awhile to get over. This example demonstrates the relationship between the Chinese Medical liver and the spleen, which are the two organs Bai Shao targets. The liver needs to be soothed (the stress) or the spleen will get overpowered (fatigue, lack of appetite). Once the spleen has been overpowered for too long, some nourishing will have to take place to bring the body back to a more healthy or normal state.

How Does DAO Labs Use Bai Shao?

Bai Shao does appear in many good, “harmonizing” formulas, or formulas which help different systems work well together. It also is in many “tonifying” formulas, or formulas which help rebuild something or give more energy. Emotional Balance (harmonizing) and Women’s Formula (tonifying) both contain this herb. The versatility of Bai Shao matches the versatility of these two formulas. Just as Bai Shao targets the liver and spleen but can be used for more than just calming down and then replenishing energy, Emotional Balance and Women’s Formula can be used for even more than PMS and post-menstrual energy replenishment.

Dr. Nell Smircina, DAOM, L.Ac., Dipl. OM is a licensed acupuncturist specializing in post-surgical rehabilitation and athletic recovery. She maintains her private practice in Beverly Hills, CA. Nell has worked extensively with the Veteran population in Los Angeles through different community acupuncture initiatives, and in her free time enjoys living a fit and active life in Southern California. Follow her on Instagram @bewellwithdrnell.

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