What is Si Wu Tang?
What is "Si Wu Tang" or "Four Substance Decoction"? Si Wu Tang is one of the most famous traditional Chinese herbal formula for women's health. It has only four ingredients: Shu Di Huang, Bai Shao, Dang Gui and Chuan Xiong. Commercial package of Si Wu often has a variation of adding a few other herbs such as Go Ji Zi (Goji barry) and Da Zao (date). Most women's health is related to Blood according to traditional Chinese medicine theory, and Si Wu Tang is very good at nourishing blood and regulating menstruation. It is so popular that you can buy this formula in different forms including liquid, pills, or powder for convenience.
Function of Si Wu Tang
Si Wu Tang tonifies, invigorates and regulates blood. It helps with symptoms of blood deficiency and stagnation. For example, symptoms include a pale face, pale lips, purple tongue, purple nails, cold hands and feet, dizziness, delayed menstruation, scanty or clotted menstruation.
What Si Wu is not good for? If you have the opposite signs such as red lips, red face, early and profuse menstruation, you should avoid the Si Wu Tang.
Blood deficiency can be from poor diet, cold food, emotional stress or other environmental factors. Taking Si Wu Tang or Si Wu chicken soup is one easy way to correct the problem.
How to cook Si Wu Tang as herbal tea
These four ingredients are also easy to buy from Chinese supermarket or Chinese herbal store. You can cook it easily at home, either by itself or with meat (usually chicken or pork). To cook it as herbal tea, simply add raw herbs and water in the pot, bring it to a boil for a minute, and turn the fire down to simmer for about 20 -30 minutes. The water should at least cover the herbs plus 1 - 2 inches. It really depends on the size of the pot, herb quantity, and the desired final thickness. Too much water will dilute the herbal function and too little will reduce the liquid quickly and produce a more bitter drink. Some people say to cook until the liquid is 1/3 of the original amount, regardless of the time. You can also soak the herbs in the water first. It helps the dry herbs cook faster.
Here is an example of the dosage of raw herbs for one day. Cook once in the morning (or the night before) and the herbal tea should be enough for 2-3 mugs. Drink one mug each time, 2 or 3 times a day.
Shu Di Huang: 15 g
Bai Shao: 12g
Dang Gui: 9 g
Chuan Xiong: 6g
If you do have a specific problem, you should consult a Chinese herbalist to discuss the modification. Generally, this formula is very safe to take, and the special smell of Dang Gui is quite pleasant to most people.
Cooking Si Wu Tang with Chicken
Si Wu chicken soup is a very popular dish. Many Chinese mothers will prepare for their daughters, especially for teenagers, to ensure proper nourishment and growth. It is just as easy to make as the Si Wu Tang alone. You can use any part of a chicken, pork, or lamb. Chinese people like bones and tendons because the different part contains different nutrition.
To clean the chicken first, boil a pot of water and cook the chicken for one minute. Rinse out all dirty water and refill with clean water. Return chicken to the pot with herbs, bring to a boil and reduce the heat to simmer until the chicken is done, but not overdone, about 25 minutes. You can wrap the herbs in a cheesecloth or large tea bag so it does not mix with chicken soup. You can also leave it mixed and eat the herbs too if you like. It does not taste too bad and it is very healing for you.
You will end up with a very fragrant and dark soup. Some people like to add rice wine and other vegetables. It is all personal preference. The black bone chicken (Wu Gu Ji) is very good for making herbal soup but it is harder to find. You do not need to add salt or any seasoning since the flavor is strong enough.
It might taste strange if you are new to Chinese herbal soup, but the result is usually instant. If it seems too much work, pills or granules will work too. I prefer cooking at home to have more control of the process. You can adjust the quantity, cooking time, and adding flavors to better fit your own condition.
Food is the best therapy. Before turning to drugs and shots, please research the natural alternatives that have less side effect. Taking good of yourself by eating right is the first step for preventing any disease.