English: Korean mint
Parts used: Dried aerial parts
TCM category: Aromatic herbs that transform Dampness
TCM nature: Warm
TCM taste(s): Pungent
Organ affinity: Lung Spleen Stomach
Scientific name: Agastache rugosa
Other names: Blue licorice, Purple giant hyssop, Indian mint, Wrinkled giant hyssop, Huoxiang, Chinese patchouli
Please note that you should never self-prescribe TCM ingredients. A TCM ingredient is almost never eaten on its own but as part of a formula containing several ingredients that act together. Please consult a professional TCM practitioner, they will be best able to guide you.
Preparation: Remove impurities and roots. Separate the stems and the leaves. Moisten the stems with water, cut them into sections, dry them and blend them with the leaves.
Dosage: 3 - 9 grams
Main actions according to TCM*: Transforms Dampness that is obstructing the Stomach and Spleen. Harmonizes the Middle Warmer, for nausea and vomiting. Relieves the Exterior from invasion of Cold and Damp.
Primary conditions or symptoms for which Huo Xiang may be prescribed by TCM doctors*: Abdominal bloating Loss of appetite Vomiting Morning sickness Abdominal pain
Contraindications*: This herb should not be used for conditions of Yin Deficiency or Heat.
Source date: 1107 AD
Number of ingredients: 11 herbs
Formula key actions: Releases the Exterior. Transforms Dampness. Regulates Qi. Harmonizes the Middle Burner.
Conditions targeted*: GastroenteritisStomach flu and others
Huo Xiang is a king ingredient in Huo Xiang Zheng Qi San. Like the name indicates, it means it has more power than other ingredients in the formula.
In Huo Xiang Zheng Qi San, Huo Xiang addresses all the major aspects of patterns characterized by the contraction of external Wind-Cold in the context of internal Dampness. It disperses Wind-Cold, transforms Dampness, revives the Spleen, and stops vomiting.
Source date: 1119 AD
Number of ingredients: 5 herbs
Formula key actions: Clears Stagnant Fire from the Spleen and Stomach.
Conditions targeted*: Apthous ulcersOral thrush and others
Huo Xiang is a deputy ingredient in Xie Huang San. This means it helps the king ingredient(s) treat the main pattern or it serves to treat a coexisting pattern.
In Xie Huang San, Huo Xiang aromatically revives the Spleen. Working together with Saposhnikovia root, it restores the Qi mechanisms of the Spleen and Stomach and assists in dispersing the Stagnant Fire.
Source date: 1831 AD
Number of ingredients: 11 herbs
Formula key actions: Resolves Dampness and transforms turbidity. Clears Heat and resolves Toxicity .
Conditions targeted*: Acute gastroenteritisEnteric fever and others
Huo Xiang is a deputy ingredient in Gan Lu Xiao Du Dan. This means it helps the king ingredient(s) treat the main pattern or it serves to treat a coexisting pattern.
In Gan Lu Xiao Du Dan, Huo Xiang is fragrant, aromatic, acrid and warming. It transforms Dampness and invigorate Qi.
When the Middle Burner is obstructed by the thick, cloying properties of Dampness, aromatic herbs need to be used to eliminate the turbidity and revive the Spleen.
In Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM), Huo Xiang belongs to the 'Aromatic herbs that transform Dampness' category. This category of herbs resolves a TCM condition called 'Cold Damp Stagnation', especially as it affects the Stomach and Spleen. In modern medicine this often translates into symptoms such as distended chest and abdomen, lack of appetite, nausea and vomiting
As suggested by its category Huo Xiang is Warm in nature. This means that Huo Xiang tends to help people who have too much 'Cold' in their body, although with less effect than a plant that would be Hot in nature. Balance between Yin and Yang is a key health concept in TCM. Those who have too much Cold in their body are said to either have a Yin Excess (because Yin is Cold in nature) or a Yang Deficiency (Yang is Hot in Nature). Depending on your condition Huo Xiang can help restore a harmonious balance between Yin and Yang.
Huo Xiang also tastes Pungent. The so-called 'Five Phases' theory in Chinese Medicine states that the taste of TCM ingredients is a key determinant of their action in the body. Pungent ingredients like Huo Xiang tends to promote the circulations of Qi and Body Fluids. That's why for instance someone tends to sweat a lot when they eat spicy/pungent food.
The tastes of ingredients in TCM also determine what Organs and Meridians they target. As such Huo Xiang is thought to target the Lung, the Spleen and the Stomach. In addition to performing respiration, the Lungs are thought in TCM to be a key part of the production chain for Qi and the Body Fluids that nourish the body. The Spleen on the other hand assists with digestion, Blood coagulation and Fluids metabolism in the body. The Stomach is responsible for receiving and ripening ingested food and fluids. It is also tasked with descending the digested elements downwards to the Small Intestine.
Agastache rugosa has an anti‐atherogenic effect (i.e. prevents the development of plaques within the walls of blood vessels) in low density lipoprotein receptor.1
1. JJ Hong, JH Choi, SR Oh, HK Lee, JH Park et al. (2001). "Inhibition of cytokine‐induced vascular cell adhesion molecule‐1 expression; possible mechanism for anti‐atherogenic effect of Agastache rugosa". FEBS Letters 495 1873-3468.
Huo Xiang is also eaten as food.