Updated: Feb 28
There are over forty varieties of peonies, and we grow several here on our little flower farm. Medicinal peonies, Paeonia officinalis, Paeonia lactiflora, and Paeonia parnassica, to name a few are more than just beautiful spring flowers; they also boast many properties that help care for good health. Unfortunately, only non-hybrid medicinal peonies demonstrate therapeutic health benefits, and currently, our stock is mainly for cut flower production only. With all I've learned about this fantastic shrub, there's a definite plan to get our dirty hands on some roots!
Historically, peonies have been used for their antispasmodic properties to treat epilepsy and prevent seizures. Other benefits include providing immune system health, reducing inflammation and fatigue, and protecting the brain.
In ancient times, European herbalists used the root to settle nerves. White peony(Paeonia lactiflora) is still used in Chinese medicine to treat hypertension, chest pain, muscle cramping, spasms, and fever. Greeks used it to treat epilepsy and promote menstruation.
Let's get into what other benefits they have to soothe common ailments.
Today, you'll find peony extracts in many medications and cosmetics:
Peonies are particularly beneficial to the skin, and their antibacterial and anti-inflammatory properties are known to relieve skin rashes.
The roots of the peony have antispasmodic, analgesic, and sedative properties. Creating a tincture can help the digestive tract and relieve gastric pain, or make peony root tea to help you fall asleep and extend your sleeping cycles.
Those suffering from menstrual cramps and irregularities can benefit from a root tincture to relieve pain and comfort.
Dried flower petals mixed with a pinch of fennel warmed in tea can calm irritability and restlessness.
The flowers can also be prepared into a soothing syrup that is effective against coughing.
Not all peony varieties may be medicinal, but all peonies are edible! Yes, you heard that right! Though peonies aren't commonly eaten today, they were a standard part of medieval cooking. They used the entire plant, the root, and the flower when in season. During the middle ages, the affluent widely used peony petals as a flavoring in summertime drinks. Mmmmm, let's make that popular again!
Their petals are edible, raw, or cooked, and the entire flower can be steamed and eaten; plus, essential oils can be extracted from the flower for diffusing or mixed into fractionated coconut oil for lovely-smelling body oil.
While the roots and seeds are also edible, the blossoms are the most commonly used part. They create beautiful pink colors for jellies and cocktails, and peonies taste as they smell.
Oh, I fully plan to make some peony flower jelly-anyone else?!
To conclude, If I didn't love this spring-blooming plant enough but to read and learn about its uses, it's more than just a delightful bloom in your vase! I'm head over heels!
Remember, I'm not an herbalist or a doctor, just a curious flower farmer learning the medicinal properties of all the herbs, flowers, and 'weeds' we grow here on our land. If you're looking to use anything listed above to treat a significant diagnosis, be sure to seek the advice of an expert.