Peach kernels (Tao Ren) Safflowers (Hong Hua) Dong quai (Dang Gui) Szechuan lovage roots (Chuan Xiong)

Tao Hong Si Wu Tang

Chinese: 桃红四物汤

Pinyin: Táo Hóng Sì Wù Tāng

Other names: Four-Substance Decoction with Safflower and Peach Pit

Number of ingredients: 6 herbs

Formula category: Formulas that tonify Blood

Mother formula: Si Wu Tang

Conditions for which it may be prescribed: DysmenorrheaMenstrual crampsScanty menstruation and five other conditions

  1. Tonifies Blood and regulates the Liver
  2. Moves Qi and Blood in the lower abdomen
  3. Stops pain

Contraindications: This formula should not be used in treating acute, severe blood loss or other... This formula should not be used in treating acute, severe blood loss or other problems of blood deficiency characterized by severe weakness and labored breathing. see more

Source date: 1291 AD

Source book: Supreme Commanders of the Medical Ramparts

Tao Hong Si Wu Tang is a 6-ingredient Chinese Medicine formula with Peach Kernels (Tao Ren) and Safflowers (Hong Hua) as principal ingredients.

Invented in 1291 AD, it belongs to the category of formulas that tonify Blood. Its main actions are: 1) tonifies Blood and regulates the Liver and 2) moves Qi and Blood in the lower abdomen.

In Chinese Medicine health conditions are thought to arise due to "disharmonies" in the body as a system. These disharmonies are called "patterns" and the very purpose of herbal formulas is to fight them in order to restore the body's harmony.

In this case Tao Hong Si Wu Tang is used by TCM practitioners to fight patterns like Blood Stagnation, Qi and Blood Stagnation or Blood Deficiency and Stagnation. From a Western Medicine standpoint, such patterns can give rise to a range of conditions such as scanty menstruation, abnormal uterine bleeding or menstrual cramps for instance.

On this page, after a detailed description of each of the six ingredients in Tao Hong Si Wu Tang, we review the patterns and conditions that Tao Hong Si Wu Tang helps treat.

The six ingredients in Tao Hong Si Wu Tang

Tao Ren is a king ingredient in Tao Hong Si Wu Tang. Like the name indicates, it means it has more power than other ingredients in the formula.

1. Peach Kernels (Tao Ren)

Part used: Dried ripe seed

Nature: Neutral

Taste(s): BitterSweet

Meridian affinity: HeartLarge intestineLiver

Category: Herbs that invigorate the Blood

Tao Ren tonifies and invigorates the Blood and regulates menstruation. Its use is for concurrent Blood Deficiency and Blood Stagnation leading to a shortened menstrual cycle with copious Bleeding of dark-purple, sticky Blood, with or without clots. Also used when menstruation is accompanied by abdominal pain and distention due to the same mechanism.

Learn more about Peach Kernels (Tao Ren)

Hong Hua is a king ingredient in Tao Hong Si Wu Tang. Like the name indicates, it means it has more power than other ingredients in the formula.

2. Safflowers (Hong Hua)

Part used: Dried flower

Nature: Warm

Taste(s): Pungent

Meridian affinity: HeartLiver

Category: Herbs that invigorate the Blood

Hong Hua it helps peach kernels (the other key herb here) tonify and invigorate the Blood and regulate menstruation.

Learn more about Safflowers (Hong Hua)

Dang Gui is a deputy ingredient in Tao Hong Si Wu Tang. This means it helps the king ingredient(s) treat the main pattern or it serves to treat a coexisting pattern.

3. Dong Quai (Dang Gui)

Part used: Dried root

Nature: Warm

Taste(s): PungentSweet

Meridian affinity: SpleenHeartLiver

Category: Tonic herbs for Blood Deficiency

In general Dang Gui's main actions are as follows: "Tonifies the Blood. Lubricates the Intestines. Relieve constipation. Promotes circulation and dispels Bi Pain. Reduce Dysmenorrhea and help with irregular menstruation."

In the context of Tao Hong Si Wu Tang, it is used because it is warming and moistening. It enters the Liver and Heart to tonify and invigorating the Blood.

Learn more about Dong Quai (Dang Gui)

Chuan Xiong is a deputy ingredient in Tao Hong Si Wu Tang. This means it helps the king ingredient(s) treat the main pattern or it serves to treat a coexisting pattern.

4. Szechuan Lovage Roots (Chuan Xiong)

Part used: Dried rhizome

Nature: Warm

Taste(s): Pungent

Meridian affinity: GallbladderLiverPericardium

Category: Herbs that invigorate the Blood

Chuan Xiong invigorates the blood and promotes the movement of Qi. Above, it directs the Blood to the head, relieving symptoms like headache, dizziness, and blurred vision, while below, it moves the 'Sea of Blood' (the complex Blood system that is the Liver, the Penetrating vessel and the Womb). Overall, by facilitating the flow of Blood through the Vessels and Collaterals it releases constraint, opens knotting, and alleviates pain.

Learn more about Szechuan Lovage Roots (Chuan Xiong)

Bai Shao is a deputy ingredient in Tao Hong Si Wu Tang. This means it helps the king ingredient(s) treat the main pattern or it serves to treat a coexisting pattern.

5. White Peony Roots (Bai Shao)

Part used: Dried root

Nature: Neutral

Taste(s): BitterSour

Meridian affinity: SpleenLiver

Category: Tonic herbs for Blood Deficiency

Bai Shao tonifies the blood and preserves the Yin. Its sour and astringent character helps to settle the muscle spasms caused by Blood Deficiency, and it is particularly well-suited to treat abdominal pain.

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Shu Di huang is a deputy ingredient in Tao Hong Si Wu Tang. This means it helps the king ingredient(s) treat the main pattern or it serves to treat a coexisting pattern.

6. Prepared Rehmannia (Shu Di huang)

Part used: Prepared dried root tuber

Nature: Warm

Taste(s): Sweet

Meridian affinity: KidneyLiver

Category: Tonic herbs for Blood Deficiency

Shu Di huang has a very strong tonifying effect on the Liver and Kidneys and is said to nourish the Yin of the Blood.

Learn more about Prepared Rehmannia (Shu Di huang)

Conditions and patterns for which Tao Hong Si Wu Tang may be prescribed

It's important to remember that herbal formulas are meant to treat patterns, not "diseases" as understood in Western Medicine. According to Chinese Medicine patterns, which are disruptions to the body as a system, are the underlying root cause for diseases and conditions.

As such Tao Hong Si Wu Tang is used by TCM practitioners to treat three different patterns which we describe below.

But before we delve into these patterns here is an overview of the Western conditions they're commonly associated with:

Scanty menstruation Abnormal uterine bleeding Menstrual cramps Absence of menstruation Painful menstruations Dysmenorrhea Irregular menstruation Postpartum weakness

Again it wouldn't be correct to say "Tao Hong Si Wu Tang treats scanty menstruation" for instance. Rather, Tao Hong Si Wu Tang is used to treat patterns that are sometimes the root cause behind scanty menstruation.

Now let's look at the three patterns commonly treated with Tao Hong Si Wu Tang.

Blood (Xue) is one of Chinese Medicine's vital subtances. Learn more about Blood in Chinese Medicine

Blood Stagnation

Tao Hong Si Wu Tang is sometimes prescribed by TCM practitioners to treat Blood Stagnation. This pattern leads to symptoms such as stabbing pain, abdominal masses, purple nails and painful period. Patients with Blood Stagnation typically exhibit choppy (Se), wiry (Xian) or firm (Lao) pulses as well as a reddish-purple tongue.

Blood Stagnation - also often referred to as "Blood Stasis" - is where the Blood flow is heavily restricted in all or parts of the body. It is one of the most important diagnostic conditions in Chinese Medicine because it is frequently the cause of intractable pain syndromes anywhere in the... read more about Blood Stagnation

Blood (Xue) is one of Chinese Medicine's vital subtances. Learn more about Blood in Chinese Medicine

Blood Deficiency and Stagnation

Tao Hong Si Wu Tang is sometimes prescribed by TCM practitioners to treat Blood Deficiency and Stagnation. This pattern leads to symptoms such as dizziness, blurred vision, lusterless complexion and nails and muscle tension. Patients with Blood Deficiency and Stagnation typically exhibit choppy (Se), wiry (Xian) or fine (Xi) pulses as well as a pale tongue.

Learn more about Blood Deficiency and Stagnation

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