peony benefits and side effects
Peony [Paeonia suffruticosa, Paeonia lactiflora, Paeonia veitchii; dan pi, 丹皮; mu dan
pi﹐ 牡丹皮]

The peony or paeony (Paeonia) is the sole genus in the flowering plant family Paeoniaceae.
They grow in Asia, southern Europe and western North America. Paeonia suffruticosa [also
called moutan or mu dan] and Paeonia lactiflora are believed to provide various health benefits
and they are popular in herbal industry.

peony herbal remedy
Paeonia suffruticosa and Paeonia lactiflora together with other Paeony species all have
somewhat different properties. Peony has been used in some famous herbal formula such as
shakuyaku-kanzo-to and toki-shakuyaku-san. Unsually, use of peony within the recommended
doses does not cause side effects. However, it may not be safe to use together with blood
pressure lowering agents.

Peony is named for the mythical Greek figure Paeon. Paeon used a peony plant to heal a
wound for the god Pluto. The famous ancient Chinese city Luoyang is a cultivation centre for
the peonies. In Japan, it was cultivated as garden plant. In the States, it is the state flower of

peony benefits

peony benefits - anti-oxidant activities.
Ethanol extract of the peony root(Paeonia Lactiflora Pall, Paeoniaceae)and its ingredients-
gallic acid and methyl gallate showed protective effects against free radical generation, i.e. free
radical scavenging effect against 1,1-diphenyl-2-picryl hydrazine, and lipid peroxidation. [1]
Researchers also demonstrated the antioxidative activity of a few stilbene derivatives from
seeds of Paeonia lactiflora wagainst the 2-deoxyribose degradation and rat liver microsomal
lipid peroxidation. These compounds are stilbenes, trans-resveratrol, trans-resveratrol-4'-O-
beta-D-glucopyranoside, trans-epsilon-viniferin, gnetin H, and suffruticosol A and B. [3]

Korean researchers showed antioxidant activities of a few compounds of from peony (Paeonia
suffruticosa). Alpha-benzoyloxypaeoniflorin and some other compounds exhibited moderately
potent radical scavenging activity on DPPH radical. [5]

peony benefits - cut risks of certain cancers?
Researchers showed the cytotoxic and antimutagenic effects of transresveratrol, trans-epsilon-
viniferin, gnetin H, suffruticosols A and B, isolated from the seeds of peony (Paeonia lactiflora
Pall) in a study of five different cancer lines. They showed cytotoxic activity in a dose-
dependent manner, and especially did potent cytotoxic activity against C6 (mouse glioma)
cancer cell. Trans-Resveratrol showed significant cytotoxic activity against HepG2 (liver
hepatoma) and HT-29 (colon) human cancer cell lines. While, trans-epsilon-viniferin and cis--
viniferin, and gnetin H exhibited marked cytotoxic activity against Hela (cervicse) and MCF-7
(breast) human cancer cell lines. [4]

peony benefits - cholesterol-lowering.
Paeoniflorin, isolated from the methanol extract of peony (Paeonia lactiflora), showed a
lowering effect on cholesterol level in the experimentally-induced hyperlipidemic rats.
Paeoniflorin showed a significantly lowering effect of total cholesterol, LDL and triglyceride
levels compared with the control group at the dose of 200 and 400 mg/kg, p.o. once a day for 4
weeks. [2]

Hypercholesterolaemia induced an increase of endothelial superoxide anion and endothelial
dysfunction. Japanese researchers noticed that administration of the peony (paeonia lactiflora
root) extract increased the endothelium-dependent relaxation and the activities of superoxide
dismutase compared with high the cholesterol diet group significantly. [6]

peony benefits - on diabetes.
A study in Taipei Medical College, Republic of China, showed a significant blood sugar lowering
effect of two chemicals from the dried root of peony (Paeonia lactiflora Pall) on streptozotocin-
treated rats. The two compounds are paeoniflorin and 8-debenzoylpaeoniflorin. The
antihyperglycemic activity of 8-debenzoylpaeoniflorin seems lower than that of paeoniflorin. The
effect was an insulin-independent event as plasma insulin did not change in paeoniflorin-
treated normoglycemic rats. [7]

Researchers supplied extracts of peony root (paeonia suffruticosa) to obese mice. They found
mice, especially the male, declined in food intake and increased in glucose tolerance. Thus,
peony root extracts may benefit diabetes and weight loss. [11]

peony benefits - on some cardiovascular conditions.
Researchers from Toyama Medical and Pharmaceutical University, Japan, showed the
endothelium-dependent vasodilator effect of an extract from the peony (Paeonia lactiflora
Pallas)  root on isolated rat aorta. This extract was found to contain gallotannin. [8]

In a clinical study of 42 patients suffered from decompensative chronic cor pulmonale or related
conditions, intravenous injection of Paeonia lactifiora improved  hemorheologic parameters,
oxygen consumption of myocardium and related parameters such as blood pressure. [10]

In a study of rabbits, oral administration of nifedipine and Paeonia lactiflora with 2% cholesterol
diet for 15 weeks caused 60.75% and 74.24% reduction in the lesion area of aorta
respectively. [13]

Researchers from Beijing College of TCM demonstrated that Paeonia lactiflora could inhibit
thrombosis and platelet aggregation, increase fibrinolytic activity and promote thrombolysis in a
vitro study. [14]

peony benefits - immunological Modulation
Researchers from Kyoritsu College of Pharmacy,Japan, demonstrated the anti-complementary
activities of an acidic polysaccharide isolated from the root of peony (Paeonia lactiflora
PALLAS) - peonan PA. Peonan PA is composed of L-arabinose: D-galactose: D-galacturonic
acid in the molar ratio of 2:1:10. [9]

peony benefits - liver health.
In a rat study, a combined treatment of Salvia miltiorrhiza (SM) and Paeonia lactiflora (PL)
showed protective benefits to D-galactosamine-induced liver damage. [12]


[1] Lee SC, et al, Arch Pharm Res. 2005 Jul;28(7):775-83. Antioxidative constituents from Paeonia lactiflora. [2] Yang HO, et
al, Paeoniflorin: an antihyperlipidemic agent from Paeonia lactiflora.Fitoterapia. 2004 Jan;75(1):45-9.[3] Kim HJ, et al,
Antioxidative activity of resveratrol and its derivatives isolated from seeds of Paeonia lactiflora.Biosci Biotechnol Biochem.
2002 Sep;66(9):1990-3. [4] Kim HJ et al, Cytotoxic and antimutagenic stilbenes from seeds of Paeonia lactiflora.Arch Pharm
Res. 2002 Jun;25(3):293-9.[5] Ryu G,A new antioxidant monoterpene glycoside, alpha-benzoyloxypaeoniflorin from Paeonia
suffruticosa.Arch Pharm Res. 2001 Apr;24(2):105-8. [6] Goto H, et al, Effect of extract prepared from the roots of Paeonia
lactiflora on endothelium-dependent relaxation and antioxidant enzyme activity in rats administered high-fat diet.Phytother
Res. 1999 Sep;13(6):526-8. [7] Hsu FL, et al, Antihyperglycemic effects of paeoniflorin and 8-debenzoylpaeoniflorin,
glucosides from the root of Paeonia lactiflora.Planta Med. 1997 Aug;63(4):323-5. [8] Goto H, et al, Endothelium-dependent
vasodilator effect of extract prepared from the roots of Paeonia lactiflora on isolated rat aorta.Planta Med. 1996 Oct;62(5):436-
9. [9] Tomoda M, et al, An acidic polysaccharide with immunological activities from the root of Paeonia lactiflora.Biol Pharm
Bull. 1994 Sep;17(9):1161-4. [10] Jia YB, Tang TQ.Paeonia Lactiflora injection in treating chronic cor pulmonale with
pulmonary hypertension Zhong Xi Yi Jie He Za Zhi. 1991 Apr;11(4):199-202, 195.[11] Nagasawa H, et al, Protection by tree-
peony (Paeonia suffruticosa Andr) of obesity in (SLN x C3H/He) F1 obese mice.In Vivo. 1991 Mar-Apr;5(2):115-8. [12] Qi XG.
Protective mechanism of Salvia miltiorrhiza and Paeonia lactiflora for experimental liver damageZhong Xi Yi Jie He Za Zhi.
1991 Feb;11(2):102-4, 69. [13] Zhang YZ, Yan XF.Effects of nifedipine and Paeonia lactiflora on plasma TXB2 and 6-Keto-
PGF1 alpha in cholesterol-fed rabbits Zhong Xi Yi Jie He Za Zhi. 1990 Nov;10(11):669-71, 645. [14] Wang Y, Ma R.Effect of an
extract of Paeonia lactiflora on the blood coagulative and fibrinolytic enzymesZhong Xi Yi Jie He Za Zhi. 1990 Feb;10(2):101-
2, 70.
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