White Peony (Bai Shao白芍)

White Peony (Bai Shao白芍)

Herbal Story

Author: Chi Institute/Tuesday, December 2, 2014/Categories: TCVM Articles

During the Han Dynasty, a doctor named Hua Tuo华佗 in the Eastern region of China planted herbs in the garden of his backyard, testing each herb himself before giving it to his patients. One day, a foreigner sent Hua Tuo a peony tree, which he planted in his garden. He tasted this herb but did not find any special taste or temperature from its leaves, stalk, flower, or even root. Therefore, he did not think that peony could be used as an herbal medicine.


One late night he thought he heard a woman cry from outside his window. He was confused as to what was causing the noise. He woke up his wife and together they went outside and searched the garden. His wife observed the peony tree and felt sorry for it. “Every flower and tree in this garden under the care of your hand has become a good medical herb for saving numerous lives,” she remarked, “I think the peony tree is being wronged and ignored. Maybe the crying sound came from the peony tree.”


Dr. Hua Tuo just smiled when he heard this and tried to reassure her that it was pointless. “I have tasted hundreds of herbs and I understand herbal properties clearly. I know what I should use and how I should use it. I never make any mistakes. For this peony tree, I have tried it and it cannot be used as herbal medicine. How can you say that it is being wronged?” They eventually gave up the search and went inside to sleep.


Several days after this had happened, Dr. Hua Tuo’s wife suffered from heavy bleeding and abdominal pain. No herbs seemed to help her so she decided to use some peony as a last resort. She dug up some peony root, made an herbal decoction from it, and drank it without telling her husband. After only half a day, her abdominal pain was gone. She told her husband her story and Dr. Hua Tuo realized that he really did wrong in shunning the peony.


Later on, Dr. Hua Tuo did very careful research and found that peony not only stopped bleeding and invigorated the Blood, but it could also relieve pain, nourish Deficiency, and regulate menstruation.

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