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Peony 9 is based on the traditional Atractylodes and Peony Formula (Baizhu Shaoyao San) that was applied for a disorder similar to irritable bowel syndrome. The basis of this prescription is regulating the flow of qi, with peony used to relax the liver, and with siler, saussurea, and citrus to aid qi circulation. This is an application of siler that is different from its usual use for dispelling wind; it has a function similar to that of bupleurum (and is in the same plant family) for regulating qi, but is considered somewhat milder in action. Codonopsis, atractylodes, and licorice improve the functions of the stomach and spleen and help build up the qi. Pogostemon opens the stomach and alleviates reactions to foods (see Gallus-Malt Tablets and Huo Xiang Zheng Qi Pian, Pine Mountain). From the modern viewpoint, citrus, pogostemon, and peony also serve the function of inhibiting excessive intestinal peristalsis that give rise to symptoms of intestinal cramping and diarrhea. Nutmeg warms and astringes the intestines, alleviating gas, cramping, and diarrhea. By taking a high dose of the formula (e.g., 5-6 tablets at one time), distress that follows a particular meal or a gastro-intestinal reaction to an emotional situation may be settled, alleviating the bowel response, which may include cramping. However, it is by regular ingestion of the formula at more moderate dosage, over a period of many weeks, that the digestive responses can be expected to normalize. It may also be necessary to alter the dietary components or cooking style, eat more slowly, and attempt to eat in a relaxed atmosphere in order to gain full control over the hyper-reactivity of the intestines.