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Monday, March 17, 2014

March 17th WHMonth: CHINESE HERBOLOGY: Peony

TO CELEBRATE WOMEN'S (HEALERS) HISTORY MONTH (WHM), during the month of March ~ in addition to my weekly postings ~ I will be making DAILY postings of time tested herbal and medicinal foods used from a Medicine Woman's bag, which holds many, many herbs, generating many, many formulas, as one herb used for a cold (mullein), when combined with totally different herbs, can be used as an antispasmodic for inflammation or as an expectorant to relieve asthma or general lung congestion.


This week will be dedicated to Chinese herbs. For the 30 years that I have traveled around the country treating health imbalances with herbs and teaching herb courses and workshops, Chinese herbs have always made up a very large percentage of my inventory, and the success I've had with the efficacy of Chinese herbs are unmatched.


Peonies have been cultivated in China since about 900 B.C.  The white peony is one of the oldest remedies in Traditional Chinese Medicine. They are a very beautiful and fragrant ornamental flower, but the root is the part valued in Chinese medicine to treat conditions such as abnormal menses, night sweats, abdominal pain, sores and injuries.

White Peony is an herb that is a great ally to other fertility herbs, and works best when combined with other fertility herbs.  Sometimes Western herbalists cannot resist using a TCM herb because it works so wonderfully.  White Peony is one of those, and has been used for painful menstruation, known as dysmennorhea, endometriosis, uterine fibroids and PCOS.  Medicinally the root of Peony is used, and is dried to be boiled down tomake a strong tea (decoction), or a tincture or liquid extract.

Peony is often combined with Dong Quai for iron deficient anemia, which is characterized by fatigue, depression, dizziness, constipation and pal complexion.  Traditionally, a decoction of peony and dong quai is given twice a week, for a month, to increase hematocrit levels.

Usually in autumn, the root barks of a four year old Peony plant is boiled and dried to use for medicinal purposes.  The most popular health benefit of the Peony root is as an antispasmodic which helps to relax muscles.  It is used to relax cramps in the calf, abdomen and limb muscles.  It is also used for treating cramps that are caused by epilepsy attacks, bouts of asthma and cramps during menstrual periods.

One of my favorite (and world renown) combinations is Bupleurum (yesterdays featured herb) and Peony. Allow me to share one of the formulas I have to treat diabetes: LIVER REJUVENATE: Schizandra, Blessed Thistle, Bupleurum, Peony, Golden Seal, Licorice. Two capsules are taken both morning and night. This formula is taken as a supplement to the "LIVER REBUILD FORMULA" (part of a complete regimen) which aids in purifying the blood and resolving liver problems.

Other key health benefits of Peony roots include its use as a sedative which helps calm nerves and other nervous conditions.  It is used as a diuretic for bladder and kidney related problems.  It is also used as an analgesic to relieve headaches and pain during menstruation; as an anticoagulant, blood coolant and blood purifier especially for the stomach and liver.  It also provides nourishment to the blood.  It is used in treatment of jaundice.  Antifungal and antibacterial properties of Peony roots are helpful in curing gastrointestinal infections.  It is also used to treat skin problems and to make the skin look healthier and younger.  A doctor should be consulted before using Peony root, as it should not be used by pregnant and nursing women.

Traditional Suggested Usage
-Dried herb decoction of root: 3-6g dried root decocted in 3 cups water. 1-3 times a day.
-Liquid extract: 3-5mL, 1-2 times a day.
Combines well in equal parts with Licorice Rt. and Dong Quai.
*Do NOT use into pregnancy. Do not use if using blood thinning medications, if you have a history of bleeding problems, or if you have a history of heavy menstrual bleeding.
References:
1. Botanical Medicine for Women’s Health, Aviva Romm, Churchill Livingstone, 2010
2. Down There Sexual and Reproductive Health, Susun S. Weed, Ash Tree Publishing, 2011