Tree Peony

2 May 2012


As we come into the clinic, there is a beautiful tree peony in full bloom in our front garden. It is a species that is native to China and has been cultivated there for millennia. Known as Mû Dän in Chinese, it is an important symbol in Chinese culture and has been prized since antiquity, not only for its beauty but for its efficacy in treating disease.

It has been the subject of poems, plays and novels for literally thousands of years. You will often find it represented in scroll paintings and fine porcelain pottery, carved into furniture, and of course cultivated in gardens.  In Chinese culture it has always represented female sensual beauty, mutual sexual attraction, prosperity and wealth.

In traditional Chinese medicine, the root is valued as an extremely effective medicine for ‘cooling & invigorating the blood’. It is one of the primary herbs used in treating the widest range of skin and allergic diseases, and as such is often found in prescriptions for conditions such as acne, psoriasis and eczema. Modern studies have confirmed that the root of the tree peony has strong anti bacterial and anti-inflammatory actions, attributed to its ability to inhibit prostaglandin synthesis and decrease permeability of the blood vessels.

So if you are visiting the clinic, take a moment to appreciate this wonderful plant and its beautiful flowers, and pay heed to these words written in the 9th Century by a local dignitary -

“Every evening in Springtime, the carriages and horses hurtle madly by on the capital city, oblivious in their rush. It is shameful not to tarry just a few moments, and appreciate the profound beauty of this magnificent flower”.