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Paeonia. Paeonia officinalis. Peony.

Paeonia. Paeonia officinalis L. Peony. Pivoine, Fr. Gichtrose, Pfingstrose, G. (Fam. Ranunculaceae.)—The root of the garden peony consists of a thick rhizome which sends off in all directions spindle-shaped roots, which gradually taper into thread-like fibers, by which they hang together. It has a strong, peculiar, disagreeable odor, and a nauseous taste, which is at first sweetish, and afterwards bitter and somewhat acrid. The odor is lost, or much diminished, by drying. Peony root was in very great repute among the ancients as a charm and as a medicine in epilepsy. In modern times it has been used as an antispasmodic. According to Rochebrune (Toxicolog. Africaine, i), it contains an active alkaloid, paeonine. The expressed juice is milky, of a strong odor and very disagreeable taste. The seeds are roundish-oval, about as large as a pea, externally smooth, shining, and nearly black, internally whitish, inodorous when dry, and of a mild oleaginous taste. By some authors they are said to be emetic and purgative, by others antispasmodic. The dose of the fresh root or seeds is from two drachms to an ounce (7.7-31.0 Gm.), boiled in a pint of water down to half a pint, which should be taken daily. It is said to be less active when dried. Dose, of the expressed juice of the root, one fluidounce (30 mils).

W. Will obtained from an aqueous distillate of the root of the Japanese Paeonia Moutan Simson, an aromatic ketone in colorless crystals. (Ber. d. Chem. Ges., xix, 1777.) According to Nagae, this substance has the formula C9H10O3. (Ibid., xxiv.) It has been prepared by Schimmel & Co., under the name of peonol. It has a pleasant aromatic odor, and crystallizes in large needles. No essential oil was found in the root. (Schim. Rep., Oct; 1890.) Dragendorff has found in the seed of P. peregrina Mill., a fixed oil, an alkaloid, and paeonic acid. (Jahresb., 1879.)


The Dispensatory of the United States of America, 1918, was edited by Joseph P. Remington, Horatio C. Wood and others.



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