Himalayan Peony Information, Medicinal Uses and More

Paeonia emodi or Himalayan Peony is found in Western Himalayas. It is a perennial plant with tuberous roots and beautiful big white flowers with central boss of yellow stamens. It is also known as Chandra (meaning moon in Hindi) in some Himalayan states as the flowers are round and white as moon. Lovely gregarious patches of blooming peony can be seen in Kagan and Kashmir during spring season.

Himalayan Peony UsesBy Epibase - Own work, CC BY-SA 3.0, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=4241796

Himalayan Peony is an ornamental, economic and medicinal plant. The roots of various Paeonia species are used for medicinal purpose since time immemorial. In ancient times, it was believed that the peony root, if worn by children round their necks, has the power of preventing epileptic attacks. The roots of plant are given in uterine diseases, colic, bilious obstructions, dropsy, epilepsy, convulsions, hysteria diseases of liver, spleen and bladder.

General Information

  • Plant Description: It is a stout glabrous perennial plant that reaches upto 1-3 ft. in height. The roots are thick and fleshy.
  • Leaves are oblong or lanceolate, alternate, 6-12 inch long. Leaflets 3, usually 3-parted, segments lanceolate, pointed, and entire.
  • Flowers are large, white, 3-4 in. diameter, long-peduncled, usually in the axil of upper leaves. Follicles 1, rarely 2, ovoid. Buds globose. Sepals 5, orbicular, concave, green, persistent the outer ones ending in a leaf-like point. Petals 5-10, broadly ovate, concave, red or white. Yellow stamens many.
  • Ovaries 1-3, densely hairy, many-ovuled, seated on a fleshy disk; style short, broad, recurved. Follicles ovoid, 1 in. Seeds few, large.
  • Part(s) used for medicinal purpose: tuber/root, flowers, seeds
  • Plant type / Growth Habit: Herb/undershrub
  • Duration: Perennial
  • Distribution: Found in the temperate Western Himalayas from Hazara to Kumaon at altitudes of 5,000 to 10,000 ft.
  • Habitat: West Temperate Himalaya, western Nepal, Afghanistan, southern Tibet and China
  • Native: Central Asia to Mediterranean region
  • Soil: Well drained fertile soil

Vernacular names / Synonyms

  • Scientific name: Paeonia emoai Wall. ex Royle
  • Hindi: Udsalap
  • English: Himalayan Peony, Peony Rose
  • Bhutia: Bhuma madiya, Yet Ghas
  • Kashmir: Mid
  • Punjab: Mamekh, Chandra
  • Urdu: Ood Gharqi (Neem Kofta), Ood-e-Saleeb

Unani Medicines containing Paeonia emodi:

  1. Arq-e-Amber
  2. Majoon-e-Zabeeb
  3. Habb-e-Ood Saleeb (epilepsy, hysteria, paralysis, convulsions, insanity, nervous affections)

Scientific Classification

The botanical name of Himalayan Peony is Paeonia emodi. It belongs to genus Paeonia and family Paeoniaceae. The name Peony refers to any of the flowering plants of genus Paeonia. It is a Himalayan plant and in Latin 'emodi montes' refers to Himalaya.

Paeoniaceae or the peony family, consists of the genus Paeonia with about 33 species distributed in Europe, Asia, and western North America. The plants belonging to this family are perennial herbs or sometimes shrubs.

Below is given taxonomical classification of plant.

  • Kingdom: Plantae – Plants
  • Subkingdom: Tracheobionta – Vascular plants
  • Superdivision: Spermatophyta – Seed plants
  • Division: Magnoliophyta – Flowering plants
  • Class: Magnoliopsida – Dicotyledons
  • Subclass: Dilleniidae
  • Order: Dilleniales
  • Family: Paeoniaceae – Peony family
  • Genus: Paeonia L. – peony P
  • Species: Paeonia emodi
  • European species: Paeonia officinalis - Common peony
  • Chinese species: Paeonia lactiflora - Chinese peony

Constituents of Paeonia emodi

The tubers of plant contain essential oil. Salicylaldehyde is the chief component of the root essential oil.

Mixture of n-alkanes, beta-amyrin, butyrospermol, cycloartenol, lupeol, 24-methylenecycloartenol, cholesterol, campesterol, sitosterol;octanoic, decanoic, lauric, myristic, myristoleic, palmitic, palmitoleic, stearic, oleic, linoleic acids, and ethyl gallate are present in root oil.

European species, Paeonia officinalis, roots and seeds contain a toxic alkaloid. This alkaloid is stated to produce contraction of the renal capillaries and increase the coagulability of the blood.

Important Medicinal Properties

Paeonia emodi is rich in medicinal properties. The understanding of these properties will help us to better utilize this herb. These also indicate the conditions in which we should avoid it. For example it is Uterocontractant and hence should not be used in pregnancy.

Below is given medicinal properties along with the meaning.

  1. Anticonvulsant: Prevent or reduce the severity of epileptic fits or other convulsions.
  2. Antitumor: inhibit growth of tumor.
  3. Antiulcer: Tending to prevent or heal ulcers.
  4. Anticonvulsant: Prevent or reduce the severity of epileptic fits or other convulsions.
  5. Anti-testosterone: Lowers male hormone Testosterone.
  6. CNS depressing: depression of the central nervous system that can result in decreased rate of breathing, decreased heart rate, and loss of consciousness.
  7. Diuretic: Promoting excretion of urine/agent that increases the amount of urine excreted.
  8. Depurative: Purifying agent.
  9. Hepatoprotective: Prevent damage to the liver.
  10. Hypotensive: Lowers blood pressure.
  11. Hypothermic: Lowers body temperature.
  12. Utero-contractant: Contracts womb.

Medicinal Uses of Paeonia emodi or Himalayan Peony

Himalayan Peony is a medicinal plant and for medicinal purpose its roots, flowers and leaves are used. The tuberous roots of plant are highly esteemed as a medicine for uterine diseases, colic, bilious obstructions, dropsy, epilepsy, convulsions, hysteria and in nervous affections.

  1. Paeonia emodi Root powder mixed with Selinum vaginatum root powder is given ½ teaspoon twice a day up to 6 months for the treatment of hysteria, convulsion and epilepsy.
  2. The root powder of Paeonia emodi, Acorus calamus and Selinum vaginatum are mixed and given in dose of half teaspoon twice a day for hysteria and epilepsy.
  3. The shade dried Leaves washed with hot water thrice, and then used as vegetable twice a day for the treatment of colic, blood dysentery, diabetes and urinary complaints.
  4. It is generally given to children as a blood-purifier.
  5. The flowers have anti-diarrheal properties. The infusion of the dried flowers is highly valued as a remedy for diarrhea.
  6. The roots are used to cure backache and dropsy.
  7. It is also used improve lactation and treat menstrual problems.

Dosage of Paeonia emodi

The root powder is taken in 1-3 grams.

Contraindications, Interactions, and Side Effects (Peony)

  1. Health hazards not known with proper therapeutic dosages.
  2. It must not be taken in pregnancy.
  3. In excess (60 grains) the drug produces headache, noise in the ears, confused vision, and vomiting.
  4. Side effects that may occur, particularly in cases of over dosages, include gastroenterosis with vomiting, colic, and diarrhea.
  5. The seeds are emetic and cathartic.
  6. The plant contains oxalic acid and tannins.
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