Paeonia lactiflora Pall. (also named Chinese Peony) is a herbaceous perennial flowering plant in the family Paeoniaceae with fleshy roots and annual stems. It is about 60–100 cm tall with large compound leaves 20–40 cm long. The flower buds are large and round, opening into large flowers 8–16 cm diameter, with 5–10 white, pink, or crimson petals and yellow stamens.
Paeonia lactiflora contains a number of different compounds:
- ursolic acid
- phenolic compounds
- gnetin H
- suffruticosol A, B
Paeonia lactiflora Pall. has been used in the treatment of rheumatoid arthritis, systemic lupus erythematosus, hepatitis, dysmenorrhea, muscle cramping and spasms, and fever for more than 1200 years.
An article published in Frontiers of Pharmacology in February 2011 investigated the anti-Inflammatory and immunomodulatory effects of Paeonia Lactiflora Pall. The authors found that the following results:
“The direct anti-inflammatory effects of total glucosides of peony (TGP) were observed in animal models of both acute and subacute inflammation, by inhibiting the production of:
- prostaglandin E2
- leukotriene B4
- nitric oxide, and
- by suppressing the increase of intracellular calcium ion concentration.
Total glucosides of peony (TGP) was also reported to have protective effects of cells against oxidative stress. In vitro, dual effects of TGP were noted on the proliferation of lymphocytes, differentiation of Th/Ts lymphocytes, and the production of proinflammatory cytokines and antibodies. In vivo, TGP inhibited the delayed-type hypersensitivity in immuno-activated mice, and enhanced the delayed-type hypersensitivity in immuno-suppressed mice.” 1
Paeonia lactiflora has also been shown to alleviate depression. The results of a study conducted in 2008 showed that intragastric administration of EPL at the doses of 250 and 500 mg/kg for seven days significantly reduced the duration of immobility in both forced swim test and tail suspension test. The results clearly demonstrated the antidepressant effect of Paeonia lactiflora in animal models of depression. 2
Another study from 1993 indicates that Paeonia lactiflora improves memory. In the present study, the effects of aqueous extracts of each component herb on scopolamine (0.3 mg/kg)-induced spatial working memory disruption were examined using an eight-arm radical maze task in rats. Among the four component herbs, peony root extract (0.25 and 1 g dried herb/kg, PO) exhibited the most potent antagonizing effect on the scopolamine disruption of the choice accuracy. These data suggest that peony root mainly contributes to the cognitive enhancing effect of Shimotsu-to and that paeoniflorin may be one of the active constituents of peony root. 3
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