White peony root

Chinese Name: Bai shao
Medical Name: Radix Paeoniae Alba
Latin Name: Paeonia lactiflora Pall, a perennial plant of the family Paeoniaceae
Origin: Root, sun-dried
Taste: Bitter, sour and sweet

Quotes from Chinese historical sources

THE ESSENTIAL MATERIA MEDICA: "Enriches the blood, purges toxins from the liver, nourishes the spleen, balances yin energy in the liver."

OPINIONS ON THE PROPERTIES OF HERBS: "Strengthens the five internal organs; nourishes the vital energy of the kidney."


Western Research

Biol Pharm Bull. 2006 Oct;29(10):2131-4.
In vitro antiviral activity of 1,2,3,4,6-penta-O- galloyl-beta-D-glucose against hepatitis B virus
Lee SJ, Lee HK, Jung MK, Mar W.
Gyeonggi Regional Research Center, Hankyong National University, Gyeonggi, Korea.
This study examined the antiviral activity of the root of Paeonia lactiflora PALL. Among the solvent fractions of the crude drug, the ethyl acetate fraction showed anti-hepatitis B virus (HBV) activity (IC50, 8.1 microg/ml) in an HBV-producing HepG2.2.15 cell culture system. The active anti-HBV principle was isolated and identified as 1,2,3,4,6-penta-O-galloyl-beta-D-glucose (PGG) from the crude drug by activity-guided fractionation. PGG isolated from P. lactiflora was examined for the inhibition of HBV multiplication by measurement of HBV DNA and hepatitis B surface antigen (HBsAg) levels in the extracellular medium of HepG2.2.15 cells after 8-d treatment. PGG decreased the level of extracellular HBV (IC50, 1.0 microg/ml) in a dose-dependent manner. PGG also reduced the HBsAg level by 25% at a concentration of 4 microg/ml. The gallate structure of PGG may play a critical role in the inhibition of anti-HBV activity. These results suggest that PGG could be a candidate for developing an anti-HBV agent.

Life Sci 2002 Sep 27;71(19):2267-77
Paeoniae Radix, a Chinese herbal extract, inhibit hepatoma cells growth by inducing apoptosis in a p53 independent pathway.
Lee SM, Li ML, Tse YC, Leung SC, Lee MM, Tsui SK, Fung KP, Lee CY, Waye MM.
Department of Biochemistry and The Hong Kong Bioinformatics Center, The Chinese University of Hong Kong, Hong Kong, People's Republic of China.
We evaluated the molecular mechanism of the effect of PR on human hepatoma cell lines, HepG2 and Hep3B. Our results showed that the water-extract of Paeoniae Radix (PRE) had inhibitory effect on the growth of both HepG2 and Hep3B cell lines. The elucidation of the drug targets of PR on inhibition of tumor cells growth should enable further development of PR for liver cancer therapy.

Biol Pharm Bull. 1994 Sep;17(9):1161-4.
An acidic polysaccharide with immunological activities from the root of Paeonia lactiflora
Tomoda M, Matsumoto K, Shimizu N, Gonda R, Ohara N, Hirabayashi K.
Kyoritsu College of Pharmacy, Tokyo, Japan.
An acidic polysaccharide, called peonan PA, was isolated from the root of Paeonia lactiflora PALLAS. It was homogeneous on electrophoresis and gel chromatography, and its molecular mass was estimated to be 6.0 x 10(4). Peonan PA is composed of L-arabinose: D-galactose: D-galacturonic acid in the molar ratio of 2:1:10, in addition to small amounts of O-acetyl groups and peptide moieties. About forty percent of the hexuronic acid residues in peonan PA exist as methyl esters. Reduction of carboxyl groups, methylation analysis, lithium degradation and nuclear magnetic resonance studies indicated that its main structural features involve both alpha-1,5-linked L-arabino-beta-3,6-branched D-galactan type and alpha-1,4-linked D-galacturonan type structural units. The polysaccharide exhibited remarkable reticuloendothelial system-potentiating activity in a carbon clearance test and considerable anti-complementary activity.