Mu Dan Pi (Cortex Moutan)

What Is Mu Dan Pi

Mu Dan Pi also known as Cortex Moutan is the root bark of Paeonia suffruticosa, which is a deciduous and woody undershrub belonging to the family Ranunculaceae. It is a relatively practical and common Chinese herbal medicine, which first appeared in <Shennong Ben Cao Jing> in the late Western Han Dynasty (around 100 BCE).

Paeonia suffruticosa is commonly called Tree Peony and is an ornamental plant. It originated in China’s Yangtze River and Yellow River basins, and is now distributed in China, Japan, France, Britain, the United States, Italy, Australia, Singapore, North Korea, the Netherlands, Germany, and Canada.

This plant is one of the top ten famous flowers in China and often appears in Chinese literature and artistic works. In 1903, it was defined as the national flower by the Qing government.

Paeonia suffruticosa

In 2019, the China Flower Association initiated the China National Flower Online Voting, and Paeonia suffruticosa received the most votes. In China, Paeonia suffruticosa is generally known as the king of flowers. It symbolizes honor, wealth, nobility, love, and feminine beauty.

In the fall of each year, people gather the roots of Paeonia suffruticosa, remove the fibrous roots and impurities, peel off the root bark, or scrape off the rough bark, remove the woody cores, cut them into slices, dry them in the sun, and make them into Chinese herbs.

Mu Dan Pi contains paeonol, paeonolide, paeonoside, apiopaeonoside, paeoniflorin, paeoniflorigenone, oxypaeoniflorin, benzoyloxypaeoniflorin, benzoylpaeoniflorin, galloyl-paeoniflorin, galloyl-oxypaeoniflorin, oleanolic acid, daucosterol, β-sitosterol, betulinic acid, betulin, mudanpinoic acid A, volatile oils, glucose, arabinose, quercetin, kaempferol, 6-hydroxycoumarin, gallic acid, benzoic acid, p-hydroxybenzoic acid, catechinic acid, diethyl phthalate, adenosine, amino acids, and a variety of trace elements.

Generally, thick and long Mu Dan Pi with a light pink cross-section, bright shining spots, and a strong fragrance is preferred.

According to the Chinese Pharmacopoeia, the medicinal nature of Mu Dan Pi is slightly cold, with a bitter and sweet taste. It has a certain therapeutic effect on the pathological changes of the heart, liver, and kidney meridians.

In traditional Chinese medicine, Mu Dan Pi is often used to clear heat and cool blood, promote blood circulation and remove blood stasis, treat primary thrombocytopenic purpura, hypertension, type 2 diabetes, arrhythmia, atherosclerosis, gastric ulcer, neurodermatitis, allergic rhinitis, amenorrhea, dysmenorrhea, scabies, acute eczema, acute appendicitis, and traumatic injury.

There are about 120 kinds of Chinese medicine prescriptions containing it, such as Liu Wei Di Huang Wan, Gui Zhi Fu Ling Wan, Qi Ju Di Huang Pian, and Zhi Bai Di Huang Wan.


  • Anti-inflammation, anti-oxidation, anti-early pregnancy, and anti-tumor.
  • Inhibiting the central nervous system and having sedative, analgesic, antipyretic, and anticonvulsant effects.
  • Alleviating gastric mucosal damage caused by ethanol and resisting gastric ulcers.
  • Reducing the acute liver damage caused by CCL4 or D-galactosamine and protecting the liver.
  • Increasing the spleen index and thymus index, promoting lymphocyte transformation rate, and improving specific immunity.
  • Increasing coronary blood flow and lowering blood pressure.
  • Lowering blood sugar, total cholesterol, and triglycerides, treating type 2 diabetes.
  • Reducing the excitability of calcium ion channel (ICa) membrane potential, slowing down the frequency of myocardial beating, and resisting arrhythmia.
  • Clearing heat, treating macules and rashes caused by the invasion of ying and Xue systems by heat.
  • Cooling blood, treating hematemesis and epistaxis caused by blood heat.
  • Treating fever at night, hot flashes without sweating caused by yin impairment in warm diseases.
  • Promoting blood circulation and treating amenorrhea and dysmenorrhea caused by blood stagnation.
  • Removing blood stasis, relieving traumatic injury and bruise.
  • Removing fire toxins, treating carbuncles and sores caused by fire toxins.
  • Treating early intestinal abscesses caused by a mixture of blood stasis and heat.
  • Inhibiting Staphylococcus aureus, hemolytic streptococcus, Escherichia coli, dysentery bacillus, typhoid bacillus, paratyphoid bacillus, Proteus, diplococcus pneumoniae, Vibrio cholerae, and Bacillus subtilis.


  • It can be used in combination with Zhi Zi (Fructus Gardeniae), Da Huang (Radix et Rhizoma Rhei), and Huang Qin (Radix Scutellariae), etc. to treat macules and rashes caused by warm-toxin.
  • It can be used in combination with Da Huang (Radix et Rhizoma Rhei), Da Ji (Japanese Thistle), Qian Cao (Radix Rubiae), etc. to treat hematemesis and epistaxis caused by blood heat.
  • It can be used in combination with Bie Jia (Carapax Trionycis), Zhi Mu (Rhizoma Anemarrhenae), Sheng Di Huang (Radix Rehmanniae), etc. to treat hot flashes without sweating caused by yin deficiency.
  • It can be used in combination with Tao Ren (Semen Persicae), Chuan Xiong (Rhizoma Chuanxiong), Gui Zhi (cassia twig), etc. to treat amenorrhea and dysmenorrhea caused by blood stagnation.
  • It can be used in combination with Hong Hua (Flos Carthami), Ru Xiang (Frankincense), Mo Yao (Myrrh), etc. to alleviate traumatic injury.
  • It can be used in combination with Da Huang (Radix et Rhizoma Rhei), Bai Zhi (Radix Angelicae Dahuricae), Gan Cao (Licorice Root), etc. to treat carbuncles and sores caused by fire toxins.

Side Effects

  • At present, there is no literature report that Mu Dan Pi has toxic effects, and there is no data showing that taking it at the prescribed dose can cause serious adverse reactions.
  • Individual patients taking it may cause adverse reactions, such as nausea, vomiting, dizziness, or stomach discomfort.

Precautions and Warnings

  • The dosage of Mu Dan Pi should be controlled at 6-12g.
  • It can be made into decoctions, powders, or pills.
  • People who are allergic to Mu Dan Pi should not take it.
  • It should not be used with Tu Si Zi (Semen Cuscutae), Chuan Bei Mu (Fritillaria Cirrhosa), Chinese Parsley (Yan Sui), or Da Suan (Garlic).
  • Patients with cold attack due to blood-deficiency should not take it.
  • People with hyperhidrosis should not take it.
  • Women with menorrhagia, pregnant women, or breastfeeding women should not take it.