Bai Shao - Paeonia lactiflora

Professional Data
 Pin Yin
Bai Shao
Radix Paeoniae lactiflorae
 Introduction Back to Top
Radix Paeoniae lactiflorae is the dried root of Paeonia lactiflora Pall. (Fam. Ranunculaceae). The drug is collected in summer and autumn, washed clean, removed from root stock, the lower part and rootlet, either peeled after boiling in water or boiled after peeling, and dried in the sun.

 Western medical Back to Top
The herb is indicated in the treatment of headache, spasmodic pain of the limbs, anemia, menstrual disorders, hepatitis, gastric ulcer, etc..

 Eastern medical Back to Top
  • Pattern: Nourishes Blood, harmonizes Blood and astringes yin, soothes the Liver, relieves pain, subdues hyperactivity of Liver yang.
  • Properties: Bitter, sour, mild cold.
  • Channels Entered: Liver and Spleen.
 Chemical constituents Back to Top
Paeoniflorin, oxypaeoniflorin, albiflorin, benzoyl paeoniflorin; benzoic acid, tannic acid, -sitosterol and volatile oil, etc..

 Pharmacological actions Back to Top
Actions on macrophage

Water decoction of bai shao was given to mice through gastrogavage for consecutive 5 days, it was found that the phagocytic percentage and phagocytic index were both significantly higher than those of the control group.

Actions on cellular immunity

Water decoction of bai shao could antagonize the inhibitory effect of cyclophosphane on peripheral T lymphocyte in mice and restore it to the normal level.

Actions on humoral immunity

Intraperitoneal injection of total glucosides of paeonia for consecutive 4 days could restore the antibody onload="highlight();" quantity to different degrees which was lowered by cyclophosphane.

Interferon-inducing and anti-viral effects

Total glucosides of paeonia could promote ConA and induce the generation of VIFN, and improve the interferon potency by 1~2 times, having direct anti-viral effect.

Anti-bacterial effect

bai shao decoction had quite strong inhibitory effect on Shigella dysenteriae in vitro and could inhibit staphylococcus. Its tincture could inhibit bacillus pyocyaneus. bai shao decoction also showed inhibitory effect on some pathogenic fungi.

Anti-inflammatory effect

bai shao extract could significantly inhibit acute inflammatory edema in rats caused by egg white, and could inhibit hyperplasia in granuloma caused by cotton ball. Total glucosides of paeonia had obvious preventing and treating effects on adjuvant arthritis in rats.

Effects on cardiovascular system

Total glucosides of paeonia could dilate isolated ear blood vessels of rabbit. In vivo tests showed that it could elevate the diastolic pressure in rabbits, increase dp/dtmax, and slow the heart rate.

Effects on blood system

In vitro tests showed that bai shao extract could decrease the wet weight of platelet thrombus and inhibit thrombus formation. Intravenous injection or in vitro paeoniflorin had inhibitory effect on platelet aggregation induced by ADP in rats.

Anti-spasm effect

Paeoniflorin had inhibitory effect on isolated intestinal canal and in vivo gastric movement in Guinea pigs and rats, as well as uterine in rats.

Analgesic effect

Total glucosides of paeonia could dosage-dependently inhibit the writh and hot-plate reaction, and lengthen the latent period of hot-plate in rats, the peak time was 0.5~1 hour.

Temperature-lowering effect

Intraperitoneal injection of total glucosides of paeonia could dosage-dependently lower normal body onload="highlight();" temperature in mice and rats, but had no obvious temperature-lowering effect on normal Guinea pigs and rabbits.

Effects on sleep rhythm

Total glucosides of paeonia could improve the sleep of different functional degree in rats, lengthen slow-wave sleep time in normal rats.

Anoxia tolerance improving effect

Intraperitoneal injection of total glucosides of paeonia could dosage-dependently lengthen the survive time of anoxic mice under normal pressure, as well as under reduced pressure.

Liver protecting effect

bai shao extract had obvious antagonizing effect on the liver injury and elevated SGPT caused by D-aminogalactose.

Peptic ulcer preventing effect

Paeoniflorin had obvious inhibitory effect on gastric ulcer in rats caused by tension and stimulation.

 Clinical Studies Back to Top
Viral hepatitis

Granules consisting of bai shao and gan cao were made according to the proportion of bai shao 21g abd gan cao 16g. Adult: 30g, bid,15g for children under 12 years. Among 81 cases of acute hepatitis with jaundice (45 days as a course of treatment), 72 were cured, 5 improved and 4 ineffective. Among 46 cases of acute hepatitis B with out jaundice (60 days as a course of treatment), 37 were cured, 4 improved and 5 ineffective. Among 14 cases of chronic persistent hepatitis (3~6 months as a course of treatment), 10 were cured, 1 improved, 2 ineffective.

Acute bacillary dysentery

Modified Shao Yao Tang (bai shao, huang qin, huang lian, huang bo, bing lang, ma chi xian, guang mu xiang) was used to treat 60 cases of acute bacillary dysentery, two doses every day, 5~7 days as a course of treatment. All cases were cured.


huang qi 20g, bai shao 30g, yi tang 30g, gui zhi 15g, zhi gan cao 10g, sheng jiang 10g, da zao 5 pieces. With severe abdominal pain, add yan hu suo; with vomiting due to excessive Damp, add sha ren and ban xia; with abdominal distension, add zhi ke. 1 dose every day, water decoction. After 5~18 days of treatment, 28 cases were cured and no recurrence was report during the half year follow-up survey.

Pulmonary heart disease

chai hu, huang qin, 15g each; bai shao, zhi shi, mang xiang, ban xia, sheng jiang, da zao, da shen, 10g each; sheng da huang 10g (to be decocted later); ting li zi 10g (wrapped); 1 dose every day, 1 month as a course of treatment. 30 cases were treated, 2 cured, 18 effective and 10 improved.


bai shao 30g and gan cao 15g were ground into fine powder., 30g each time. 35 cases of asthma were treated. 30~120 minutes after the treatment, 8 cases were markedly effective, 23 effective, 4 ineffective.

Gastric and duodenal ulcer

bai shao 200g, gan cao 150g, bing pian 15g and bai hu jiao 20g were ground into fine powder. 5g each time, tid, taken 30 minutes before meals, for 2 months. After 2 courses, among 105 treated cases, 86 were cured, 15 markedly effective, and 4 ineffective.

Bile regurgitational gastritis

chai hu 15g; bai shao, zhi shi, huang qin, zhi ban xia, zhi da huang, 10~15 each; sheng jiang, da zao, 20g each; pu gong ying, bai ji, 15~30g; zhi gan cao 5g. With profuse acid regurgitation, add zhe bei mu (smashed) and wu zei gu; with severe vomiting, add dai zhe shi (decocted first), jiang zhu ru; with stuffy feeling in the gastric region, add hou po, e zhu; with aversion to cold, add wu zhu yu and gan jiang; with aversion to greasy food, add zhi zi, shan zha, ji nei jin; with pain in the coastal or hypochondriac region, remove da zao, add yuan hu suo, yu jin, jin qian cao, 1 dose every day, 15 days as a course of treatment. 30 cases were treated. After 1 course, 14 were clinically cured, 15 improved, 1 ineffective. The effect was better than that of the control group.

Chronic colonitis

Shen Ji Gu Zhi Tang (chao bai shao, bai ji, chao bian dou, chao huai shan yao, bu gu zhi, 15g each; chi shi zhi 30g; ren shen, pao jiang, he zi, 10g each; gan cao 3g) was used to treat 55 cases of chronic colonitis. With yang deficiency of the Spleen and Kidney, add fu pian and gan jiang; with Damp-Heat, add bai jiang cao, huang lian and ge gen; with prolonged diarrhea, add ying su ke, sheng ma; with abdominal pain, add mu xiang; caused by emotional factors, add chai hu and fang feng. 1 dose every day, water decoction, 25 days as a course of treatment with 4~7 days' interval. After 1~3 courses, 37 cases were cured, 16 markedly effective, 6 improved and 2 ineffective.


Shao Yao Gan Cao Tang (sheng bai shao 24~40g, sheng gan cao 10~15g) was used to treat 60 cases of habitual constipation. It took effect quickly, and without recurrence. With qi deficiency, add sheng bai zhu 24~32g; with Cold coagulation, add fu zi 10~15g; with yin and Blood deficiency, add e jiao 9~15g; with Blood deficiency and Cold, add dang gui 9~15g; with qi stagnation, add mai yao 10g; with hypertension caused by hyperactivity of Liver yang, remove gan cao and add dai zhe shi 20~30g; for patients with hypertension with excessive Damp, remove gan cao, and add chen pi, ban xia.

Primary dysmenorrhea

Supplemented Shao Yao Gan Cao Tang (for qi stagnation and Blood stasis: chao bai shao 60g, zhi gan cao 30g; for Cold coagulation and Blood stasis, chao bai shao 90g, rou gui 10g, zhi gan cao 30g). The therapeutic effect was satisfactory.

Facial spasm

bai shao 45g, zhi gan cao 10g, 1 dose every day, water decoction. 32 cases of facial spasm were treated for consecutive 2 months, 2 were controlled, 16 markedly effective, 5 effective and 9 ineffective.

 References Back to Top

Except those noted, all references come from Weng Weiliang, et al., Clinical Chinese materia medica, Henan Science & Technology Press, 1998