Last Editorial Review: 6/11/2021
Other Name(s):

Bai Shao, Chi Shao, Chinese Peony, Common Peony, Coral Peony, Cortex Moutan, European Peony, Jiu Chao Bai Shao, Moutan, Mu Dan Pi, Paeonia, Paeonia alba, Paeonia albiflora, Paeonia anomala, Paeonia arborea, Paeonia arietina, Paeonia beresowskii, Paeonia caucasica, Paeonia corallina, Paeonia coriacea, Paeonia daurica, Paeonia japonica, Paeonia kavachensis, Paeonia lactiflora, Paeonia mascula, Paeonia microcarpa, Paeonia moutan, Paeonia obovata, Paeonia officinalis, Paeonia paradoxa, Paeonia suffruticosa, Paeonia triternata, Paeonia veitchii, Paeonia willmottiae, Paeonia woodwardii, Paeoniae Flos, Paeoniae Radix, Peonía, Peony Flower, Peony Root, Piney, Pivoine, Pivoine Arbustive, Pivoine Blanche, Pivoine Commune, Pivoine de Chine, Pivoine des Jardins, Pivoine en Arbre, Pivoine Moutan, Pivoine Officinale, Pivoine Rouge, Racine de Pivoine, Radix Paeoniae, Radix Paeoniae Alba, Radix Paeoniae Rubra, Radix Peony, Red Peony, Shakuyaku, Shao Yao, Tree Peony, Ud Saleeb, Udsalam, Udsalap, White Peony.


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.

How does it work?

Peony might block chemicals produced by the body that can cause muscle cramps. It may also prevent blood clotting and act as an antioxidant.


Next to red peppers, you can get the most vitamin C from ________________. See Answer

Uses & Effectiveness

Insufficient Evidence to Rate Effectiveness for...

  • Skin wrinkles. Peony contains a chemical called paeoniflorin. Early research suggests that applying a specific cosmetic product containing 0.5% paeoniflorin for 8 weeks might reduce facial wrinkles.
  • Muscle cramps.Early research suggests that taking a specific combination of peony and licorice (Shakuyaku-kanzoh-to) might ease muscle cramps in people with liver cirrhosis and in people undergoing hemodialysis.
  • Rheumatoid arthritis (RA). Early research suggests that taking a product containing peony along with the drug methotrexate for 3 months might reduce test markers of swelling in people with RA better than taking methotrexate alone. However, taking this peony product with methotrexate does not appear to improve symptoms of RA better than methotrexate alone.
  • Gout.
  • Osteoarthritis.
  • Breathing problems.
  • Cough.
  • Skin diseases.
  • Hemorrhoids.
  • Heart trouble.
  • Stomach upset.
  • Spasms.
  • Nerve problems.
  • Migraine headache.
  • Chronic fatigue syndrome (CFS).
  • Other conditions.
More evidence is needed to rate the effectiveness of peony for these uses.

Natural Medicines Comprehensive Database rates effectiveness based on scientific evidence according to the following scale: Effective, Likely Effective, Possibly Effective, Possibly Ineffective, Likely Ineffective, and Insufficient Evidence to Rate (detailed description of each of the ratings).

Side Effects

Peony is POSSIBLY SAFE when used by mouth, short-term. Peony has been used safely for up to 4 weeks. It can cause stomach upset. It can cause rash when it comes in contact with the skin of sensitive people.


Vitamin D Deficiency: How Much Vitamin D Is Enough? See Slideshow

Special Precautions & Warnings

Pregnancy and breast-feeding: Peony is POSSIBLY UNSAFE when taken by mouth during pregnancy. Some developing research suggests that peony can cause uterine contractions. However, other research suggests a combination of peony and angelica might be safe. Until more is known, don't use peony if you are pregnant. Also avoid peony if you are breast-feeding. Not enough is known about the safety of using peony if you are nursing.

Bleeding disorders: Because peony might slow blood clotting, there is a concern that it might increase the risk of bleeding in people with bleeding disorders. Don't use it if you have a bleeding disorder.

Surgery: Peony might slow blood clotting, so there is a concern that it could increase the chance of bleeding during and after surgery. Stop using peony at least 2 weeks before a scheduled surgery.


Medications that slow blood clotting (Anticoagulant / Antiplatelet drugs)Interaction Rating: Moderate Be cautious with this combination.Talk with your health provider.

Peony might slow blood clotting. Taking peony along with medications that also slow clotting might increase the chances of bruising and bleeding.

Some medications that slow blood clotting include aspirin, clopidogrel (Plavix), diclofenac (Voltaren, Cataflam, others), ibuprofen (Advil, Motrin, others), naproxen (Anaprox, Naprosyn, others), dalteparin (Fragmin), enoxaparin (Lovenox), heparin, warfarin (Coumadin), and others.

Phenytoin (Dilantin)Interaction Rating: Moderate Be cautious with this combination.Talk with your health provider.

Peony root might decrease the amount of phenytoin in the body. Taking peony root along with phenytoin (Dilantin) might decrease the effectiveness of phenytoin (Dilantin) and increase the risk of seizures.


The appropriate dose of peony depends on several factors such as the user's age, health, and several other conditions. At this time there is not enough scientific information to determine an appropriate range of doses for peony. Keep in mind that natural products are not always necessarily safe and dosages can be important. Be sure to follow relevant directions on product labels and consult your pharmacist or physician or other healthcare professional before using.

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