Tree Peony (Mu Dan Pi)
Botanical Name: Paeonia suffruticosa
Tree Peony is grown throughout the world as an ornamental tree and flower and for its medicinal properties. A symbol of honor and wealth the bark is famous for cooling blood, stopping nose bleeds due to high fevers, easing headaches and healing bruises due to injuries. Due to over-harvesting the wild plant is threatened with extinction.
Below is an overview of Tree Peony, combining and interpreting the best of Western Science, Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM), Shamanism, Folklore and more. Gain a balanced and thorough understanding of the healing properties of Tree Peony.
Western Name: Tree Peony
Also Known As: Moutan, Chinese Tree Peony Root Cortex
Organs/Systems: Heart, Circulatory System, Uterus
Key Western Actions & Medicinal Uses: Sedating, Anti-inflammatory, Antibacterial, Antifungal, Antimicrobial.
Pin Yin: Mu Dan Pi
Also Known As: Mu Dan
Meridians: Heart, Liver, Kidney
Key TCM Actions & Medicinal Uses: Clears Heat/Cools Blood: treats heat entering the blood level during a warm-febrile disease with symptoms of a bleeding nose, blood in the mucous, or subcutaneous bleeding. Also used for frequent and profuse menstruation due to heat in the blood. Clears Fire due to Deficiency: for Yin deficiency patterns with steaming bone disorder, especially if there is no sweating. Clears Liver Heat Rising: headache, eye pain, flushing, dysmenorrhea. Invigorates Blood/Removes Blood Statis: Uterine cysts, Liver Blood stagnation causing amernorrhea, abdominal masses, lumps, bruises due to injury. Drains pus/Reduces Swellings: use externally for firm, non-draining sores or internally for intestinal abscesses.
Parts Most Frequently Used: Root, Root Bar, Flowers
Flavors/Temps: Acrid, Bitter, Cool
Caution: Due to blood moving properties not recommended during pregnancy.
History/Folklore: The Tree Peony is said to have originated from wild flowers grown in the mountains where they were first treated as firewood by the ancient Chinese Ancestors.
According to the “Shen Nong Herbal Classic,” Tree Peony removes abdominal masses, eliminates blood stagnation, and supports all five of the bodies principal internal organs. It is also tonifies Qi and promotes longevity. The plant’s root bark is the most frequently used part of the plant. Used raw to cool blood, dry-fried to invigorate blood, and charred to stop bleeding. Traditionally, the herb is avoided while taking garlic.
The large beautiful flower has always been a symbol of prosperity and is called the “Queen of Flowers” and “The National Beauty with Heavenly Fragrance.” It is a flower (and plant) that is considered to have not just vain beauty, but a true sense of character. It will never simply yield to others. It will always take its time, like a queen. It fears no one, especially those in power. Ancient Chinese poets depict it as a tough fighter. Peonies are a symbol of honor, wealth, aristocracy, love, affection and feminine beauty.
Tree peonies are slow to grow and have flowers that are fragile under wind, rain or too hot temperatures. The blooms do not last long, though the plant itself is long-lived. The seeds are collected in June when the plant’s seed pods split. They are air-dried for a few days and then stored in moist soil until they are planted again during the Autumn.
The Latin name “Paeonia,” derives from the name “Paeon.” Paeon was a Greek disciple of Asclepus, the god of medicine.
The Qing Dynasty (1644-1911) named the tree peony as China’s national flower. (Currently, the Chinese plum tree is the national Flower of China.)
The fresh petals of the flower are used to make a thick soup or garnish for special dishes. (See Peony Flower/Bai Shao for more about peony flowers and their healing properties). The yellow variety, called Yao Huang in Chinese produces very few blooms but is said to have the grace and nobility of dragons flying. There are many old Chinese tales surrounding peonies. They are a beloved part of Chinese culture and folklore.
Phenol, Paeonol, Paeonoside, Paeonolide, Apiopaeonoside, Paeoniflorin, Benzoyle paeoniflorin, Gallic acid, Volatile Oil, Phytosterols, Benzoic acid, Sucrose, Glucose.
Emperor of Emperors
The yellow tree peony (Yao Huang) is called the “Emperor of Emperors” for its rings having thousands of petals.
Liu Wei Di Huang Wan
Tree Peony (Mu Dan Pi) is a main ingredient in a variety of Chinese patent formulas, including the famous Liu Wei Di Huang Wan (Six Ingredient Pill with Rehmannia).
Good quality root bark is very fragrant, thick, white and starchy.
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