Peony is a plant. The root and, less commonly, the flower and seed are used to make medicine. Peony is sometimes called red peony and white peony. This does not refer to the color of the flowers, which are pink, red, purple, or white, but to the color of the processed root.
Peony is used for gout, osteoarthritis, fever, respiratory tract illnesses, and cough. Women use peony for menstrual cramps, polycystic ovary syndrome, premenstrual syndrome (PMS), and for starting menstruation or causing an abortion. It is also used for viral hepatitis, liver cirrhosis, upset stomach, muscle cramps, “hardening of the arteries” (atherosclerosis), and to cause vomiting. Peony is also used for spasms, whooping cough (pertussis), epilepsy, nerve pain (neuralgia), migraine headache, and chronic fatigue syndrome (CFS).
People apply peony to the skin for healing cracked skin, especially cracks around the anus (anal fissures) that sometimes occur with hemorrhoids.
Peony might block chemicals produced by the body that can cause muscle cramps. It may also prevent blood clotting and act as an antioxidant.
In China, the fallen petal of Paeonia lactiflora are parboiled and sweetened as a tea-time delicacy. Peony water was used for drinking in the Middle Ages. The petals may be added to salads or to punches and lemonades.
The herb known as Paeonia, in particular the root of P. lactiflora (Bai Shao, Radix Paeoniae Lactiflorae), has been used frequently in traditional medicines of Korea, China and Japan.
Paeonia suffruticosa has a long history of being used as medicine in Chinese medicine. There are more than 1000 Chinese tree peony cultivars with various kind of flower colors and flower forms that have been selected artificially for medicinal uses for more than 2000 years. The root bark, often referred to as Mu Dan Pi or Cortex Moutan, is the main part that is used in Chinese medicine. Mu Dan Pi’s main functions include clears heat, cools blood, clears fire from deficiency, clears ascending Liver fire, and mildly invigorates the blood. Mu Dan Pi that has best quality should be very fragrant, and is thick, white and starchy. The flower is now mostly cultivated for medical uses. Due to over-harvesting, the wild plant is threatened with extinction.