Peony has one of the longest histories of any flowering herb, and has been used since ancient times both as an ornamental and medicinal plant. Traditionally, it has been used to manage arthritis, help depression, treat asthma, and more.
Health Benefits of Peony
Using its traditional medicinal applications as a guide, peony benefits have been thoroughly researched. The various peony properties have found a number of medicinal uses, however the following are the most popular ones:
Promoting liver health. Peony root has hepatoprotective effects, which can lower bilirubin levels, and it is often used to promote liver health and treating viral hepatitis.
Reducing pain and inflammation. Peony's anti-inflamatory, immunostimulant properties have proven effective for treating rheumatoid arthritis and other related conditions, as well as for relieving muscle spasms and menstrual cramps.
Additionally, peony properties can be useful for:
Relieving symptoms of depression. Studies have shown peony's ability to support brain function, improving cognition, memory, and mood.
Treating asthma. Peony properties include antispasmodic actions, which can calm cough and asthma attacks by relaxing the airways, thus improving breathing.
A decoction of peony's root has been used for centuries in Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM) for the treatment of rheumatoid arthritis, systemic lupus erythematosus, hepatitis, dysmenorrhea, muscle cramping, spasms, and even fever.
How It Works
All peony species contain high amounts of anti-inflammatory glucosides, but paeoniflorin is the most abundant one, and it is largely responsible for peony's medicinal actions, though other compounds likely play a role as well.
The hepatoprotective effects of peony's root are related to its ability to lower bilirubin levels and other indicators of toxicity in the liver. In addition, paeoniflorin and other glucosides help reduce the amount of cytokines, which are small proteins that modulate immune and inflammatory responses, and have been shown to relieve arthritis and related conditions.
Furthermore, peony properties notably include neuroprotective and mildly sedative effects, which have been shown to benefit brain function, improving cognition and mood disorders, such as depression and anxiety. Though the exact mechanism of these medicinal actions is yet to be fully explained, it is thought that peony's glucosides inhibit monoamine oxidase (MAO) - an enzyme that inactivates certain neurotransmitters - also reducing oxidative stress, which might even prevent the onset of Alzheimer's disease and dementia.
PEONY HAS BEEN SHOWN TO ENHANCE BRAIN FUNCTION, INCLUDING MEMORY, COGNITION AND MOOD.
Other herbs with hepatoprotective benefits are milk thistle and boldo, whereas turmeric and devil's claw are well-known for their anti-inflammatory effects.
Peony has been traditionally used in Traditional Chinese Medicine as a coagulant agent, for treating painful menstruation (dysmenorrhea), bleeding wounds, and nose bleeding. However, this medicinal property may be counter productive for people taking anticoagulant drugs or women that experience amenorrhea, which is characterized by irregular or absent menstrual periods.
Although peony has been found to be generally safe for the liver, it is important to consult a physician or psychiatrist before taking it for depression.
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