The peony is named after Paeon (also spelled Paean), a student of Asclepius, the Greek god of medicine and healing. Asclepius became jealous of his pupil; Zeus saved Paeon from the wrath of Asclepius by turning him into the peony flower.
Over 262 compounds have been obtained so far from the plants of Paeoniaceae. These include monoterpenoid glucosides, flavonoids, tannins, stilbenes, triterpenoids and steroids, paeonols, and phenols. Biological Activities include Antioxidant, Antitumor, Antipathogenic, Immune-System-Modulation Activities,Cardiovascular-System-Protective Activities and Central-Nervous-System Activities.
The herb known as Paeonia (Bai Shao, Radix Paeoniae Lactiflorae), in particular the root of Paeonia lactiflora has been used frequently in traditional medicines of Korea, China and Japan
The compound character for herbaceous peony, ‘shao yao‘ reveals the original medical use of the plant. The first character, ‘shao‘ is composed of the sign for plants atop the pictogram for a full spoon or ladle. The second character, ‘yao‘ means medicine, literally, “the plants which bring happiness.”