Chi Shao

Paeoniae Rubra Radix, Red Peony Root


Decocting with 4-10g or making into pill or powder.


MTD (mice/IV injection/water-based extract): 50g/kg. MLD (cats/IV injection/water-based extract): 186g/kg. LD50 (mice/abdominal injection): 4.6g/kg (Chi Shao D), 2.9g/kg (Chi Shao C), 10.8g/kg (Chi Shao A). (1)

Chemical Composition

Paeoniflorin; Oxypaeoniflorin; Benzoylpaeoniflorin; Albiflorin; Paeoniflorigenone; Galloylpaeoniflorin; Lactoflorin; Paeonilactone A, B, C; b-sitosterol; Daucosterol; Catechin; Benzoic acid; Paeonel; Paeonolide; Resin; Tannin; Glucose; Starch; Mucin; Salicylic acid; Gallic acid; b-amyrin; Hexa-O-galloyl-b-D-glucose; Hepta-O-galloyl-b-D-glucose; 1, 2, 3, 6-tetra-O-galloyl-b-D-glucose; 1, 2, 3, 4, 6-penta-O-galloyl-b-D-glucose; Z-1s,5R- b-pinen-10-yl-b-vicianoside. (2)


Exercise caution when administering this herb to patients suffering from blood deficiency yet without blood stasis, and those with degenerate carbuncles.


Effects on the hematological system

    Effects on the permeability of red blood cells: Chi Shao can significantly improve the permeability of red blood cells in patients with hepatic icterus and enhance red blood cells’ anti-hypotonic effect. Chi Shao can also stabilize the membrane of red blood cells. These effects suggest that Chi Shao has an important role to play in the treatment of hepatitis. (3) Gastrolavage of Chi Shao in rats can significantly inhibit platelet aggregation, and decrease RBC aggregation, without affecting the deformation, orientation, or relaxation index of red blood cells. (4) Effects on the intra-platelet free calcium ion([Ca2+]) and on the activity of Ca2+- Mg2+-ATPase: Experiments show that Chi Shao can enhance both the basal and stimulated activity of Ca2+-Mg2+-ATPase of RBC in rabbits with hyperlipemia. (5) Anti-coagulation effect: In-vitro experiments show that Chi Shao injection has a dose-dependent effect of prolonging the KPTT, PT, and TT of rabbit plasma. The antithrombin activity produced by 1 mg of Chi Shao is equivalent to that produced by 2.0 10-3 units of heparin. The antithrombin effect of Chi Shao may have resulted from a direct and immediate inhibition on thrombin, which is independent of AT III. (6) Effects on thrombin and fibrolysin: Chi Shao extract can inhibit thrombin, and both the intrinsic and extrinsic coagulation systems. It can also activate plasminogen and inhibit urokinase’s activation of plasminogen. These effects of Chi Shao are believed by some to be the enzymological basis for its actions of invigorating the blood and removing blood stasis. Furthermore, experiments show that Chi Shao’s fibrin-dissolving effect is achieved by activating plasminogen and transforming it into fibrolysis, which in turn dissolves the coagulated fibrin. In the presence of urokinase, Chi Shao’s ability to activate plasminogen is significantly diminished. (7)

Effects on immuno-regulation

Chi Shao promotes the blastogenesis of T-lymphocytes. (8) Chi Shao’s immunity-enhancing effect is dose-dependent, with it peaking at 6.25-25g/kg (the equivalent of 2.8-11 times the recommended adult dosage). This suggests that, the patient’s constitution permitting, a calculated increase in dosage may be beneficial to the patient by enhancing the cellular immune function. (9)

Counteracting herpes virus II

Chi Shao’s nontoxic concentration is 12.5 g/L. At 1.56g/L, Chi Shao can inhibit the growth of simplex herpes virus II and directly kill virions, suggesting that indeed, Chi Shao extract can significantly counteract the duplication of HSV-II. (10)

Effects on the proliferation of fibroblast in the skin

Water-soluble extract of Chi Shao has a significant dose and time-dependent inhibitory effect on fibroblast proliferation in skin with systematic scleroderma (SS). (11)

Effects on the activity of tyrosinase

Experiments show that alcohol-based extract of Chi Shao can, at different concentration levels, activate the activity of tyrosinase, and increase the production of melanin. These effects are dose-dependent. (12)

Effects on delayed allergic reaction

Administration of Chi Shao after antigen attack has a pronounced inhibitory effect on 2, 4, 6-trinitrochlorovenzene-induced delayed allergic reaction. This effect mainly results from the inhibition of sensitized T-lymphocytes from releasing lymphokines, and the inhibition of the ensuing infection process. (13)

Protecting hepatic cells

Experiments show that administered to rats with liver damages, Chi Shao can enhance the phagocytic function of the reticuloendothelial system and the activity of opsonin, and prevent hepatic immune damages. In so doing, Chi Shao protects liver cells and facilitates their regeneration. (14)

8.Preventing and treating experimental pulmonary hypertension

Like ligustrazine, Chi Shao can prevent and treat experimental pulmonary hypertension in rats. In fact, the effect of Chi Shao is superior to that of ligustrazien in this regard. (15)

Effects on plasmatic TXB2 and 6-ketone-PGF1a in rabbits with chronic hyperlipemia

Administered to rabbits with hyperlipemia, both Chi Shao and nifedipine can restore the subjects’ abnormal TXA2/PGI2 ratio to normal, reduce the surface area of aortic atherosclerosis, and decrease the levels of LPO, and of lipid, calcium, and phosphorus in the arterial wall. The effect of Chi Shao is more pronounced than that of nifedipine. (16)

Antitumor effect

Experiments on mice show that Chi Shao 801, a homologue of an active component of Chi Shao, has a moderate inhibitory effect on the local growth of Lewis pulmonary tumors and melanoma B16, and a significant inhibitory effect on the hematogenous metastasis of those tumors. Chi Shao 801 can also significantly decrease the platelet aggregation rate and prolong the coagulation time in mice with Lewis pulmonary tumor. Chi Shao 801 and cyclophosphamide (an anticarcinogen) work together synergistically. (17)

Inducing carboxylesterase in microsomes

Chi Shao 801 can induce the activity of microsoms in both the liver and the heart without affecting the weight of the liver. This suggests that Chi Shao 801 facilitates the hydrolytic process in the liver, hence is conducive to the elimination of toxins. (18)


  1. Editorial Committee of Chinese Materia Medica. State Drug Administration of China. Chinese Materia Medica. Shanghai: Science and Technology Press; 1998.
  2. Editorial Committee of Chinese Materia Medica. State Drug Administration of China. Chinese Materia Medica. Shanghai: Science and Technology Press; 1998.
  3. Zhao Chun Jing, et al. Journal of Traditional Chinese Medicine Research. 1999;15(5):42-43.
  4. Ji Zhong Qiang, et al. Journal of Traditional Chinese Medicine Research. 1999;15(5):47-49.
  5. Zheng Li Li, et al. China Journal of Integrated Medicine. 1996;16(5):295-296.
  6. Deng Chang Qing, et al. Journal of Pharmacology and Clinical Application of TCM. 1991;7(1):20-23.
  7. Wang Yu Qin, et al. Journal of Integrated Medicine. 1990;10(2):101-102.
  8. Fan Liang Qing, et al. Zhejiang Journal of Traditional Chinese Medicine. 1992;27(3):123-125.
  9. Yang Feng, et al. China Journal of Experimental Clinical Immunology. 1997;9(1):49-52.
  10. Liu Ni, et al. Journal of Guangzhou University of TCM. 1999;16(4):308-310.
  11. Li Ming, et al. Journal of Clinical Application in Dermatology. 1998;27(2):77-79.
  12. Lei Tie Chi, et al. Journal of Clinical Application in Dermatology. 1999;28(3):147-149.
  13. Xu Qiang, et al. Journal of Pharmacology and Clinical Application of TCM. 1993;9(4):30-33.
  14. Qi Xin Guang, et al. Journal of Integrated Medicine. 1991;11(2):102-104.
  15. Ma Xiu Feng, et al. Journal of Research in Traditional Chinese Medicine. 1992;5(2):17-18.
  16. Zhang Yong Chen, et al. Journal of Integrated Medicine. 1990;10(11):669-671.
  17. Hu Su Kun, et al. China Journal of Medicine. 1990;5(3):22-23.
  18. Du Gui You, et al. Journal of Integrated Medicine. 1989;9(8):491-493.