Paeonia suffruticosa is a hybridised plant species that belongs to a group of plants of the Vaginatae family, often referred to as tree peonies. The plant is cultivated in China and used as a traditional medicine. Studies show that root bark extracts from Paeonia suffruticosa may cause sedation and may be useful in treating central stress. The medicinal effects of tree peonies may stem from the presence of phenols within the roots, and Paeonia suffruticosa contains the phenol paeonol (2-hydroxy-4-methoxyacetophenone). One study investigated the effects of paeonol on the activity of the monoamine oxidase enzymes A and B and found inhibition of both forms. In this regard, paeonol was slightly more effective at inhibiting monoamine oxidase B, compared to A. As these enzymes are responsible for the breakdown of the monoamine neurotransmitters serotonin, noradrenaline and dopamine, this could indicate that paeonol is the active component within Paeonia suffruticosa that causes its central nervous system effects.
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