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Wild mint

Chinese: 薄荷

Pinyin: Bò Hé

Parts used: Dried aerial parts

TCM category: Cool/Acrid herbs that release the Exterior

TCM nature: Cool

TCM taste(s): Pungent

Organ affinity: Liver Lung

Scientific name: Mentha haplocalyx

Other names: Field mint, Wild mint

Use of wild mint (Bo He) in TCM

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 the old stems and impurities, soak slightly in water and dry at low temperatures

Dosage: 3-6g

Main actions according to TCM*: Relieves the Exterior and disperses Wind-Heat. Clears Wind-Heat from the head, eyes and throat. Allows the release of toxins from the skin. Moves Stagnant Liver Qi

Primary conditions or symptoms for which wild mint may be prescribed by TCM doctors*: Headache Sore throat Mouth ulcers Rubella Measles Chest congestion Uveitis

Contraindications*: Mint should be used with caution by those with Yin Deficiency Heat and spontaneous sweating. This herb should not be used by nursing mothers as it may slow lactation.

Common TCM formulas in which wild mint (Bo He) are used*

Yang Yin Qing Fei Tang

Source date: the 18th century

Number of ingredients: 8 herbs

Formula key actions: Nourishes the Yin. Improves throat. Resolves toxicity. Clears the Lungs.

Conditions targeted*: DiphtheriaTonsillitis and others

Bo He is an assistant ingredient in Yang Yin Qing Fei Tang. This means that it either serves to reinforces the effect of other ingredients or it moderates their toxicity.

In Yang Yin Qing Fei Tang, Bo He is acrid and it provides movement to the Qi and thereby facilitates the unclogging of the throat. It is added to help direct the pathogenic Qi to the Exterior

Read more about Yang Yin Qing Fei Tang

Jia Wei Xiao Yao San

Source date: Ming dynasty

Number of ingredients: 10 herbs

Formula key actions: Clears Liver and Spleen Qi Stagnation. Tonifies Spleen. Clears Deficient Heat. Nourishes the blood.

Conditions targeted*: InfertilityMenorrhagia and others

Read more about Jia Wei Xiao Yao San

Key TCM concepts behind wild mint (Bo He)'s properties

In Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM), wild mint are plants that belong to the 'Cool/Acrid herbs that release the Exterior' category. Herbs that release the Exterior aim to to treat the early stages of diseases that affect the upper respiratory tract, the eyes, the ears, the nose, the throat or the skin. TCM believes that External diseases such as colds or allergies can only invade the body if the External environment overwhelms our Wei Qi (the TCM version of the immune system). In order to counteract this invasion Cool/Acrid herbs aim to induce sweating by dilating our capillary pores so that they release more sweat. The belief is that this will expel the disease from the body and stop it from invading further.

As suggested by its category wild mint are plants that are Cool in nature. This means that wild mint tend to help people who have too much 'Heat' in their body, although with less effect than a plant that would be Cold in nature. Balance between Yin and Yang is a key health concept in TCM. Those who have too much Heat in their body are said to either have a Yang Excess (because Yang is Hot in nature) or a Yin deficiency (Yin is Cold in Nature). Depending on your condition wild mint can help restore a harmonious balance between Yin and Yang.

Wild mint also taste 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 wild mint tend 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 wild mint are thought to target the Liver and the Lung. In TCM the Liver is often referred as the body's "general" because it is in charge of regulating the movements of Qi and the Body Fluids. It also takes a leading role in balancing our emotions. 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.

Research on wild mint (Bo He)

Vegetables of mint (the aerial part of Mentha haplocalyx) contain a significant amount of polyphenols with many health benefits. The crude aqueous acetone extract exhibited high antioxidant activity.1


1. GM She, C Xu, B Liu, RB Shi (2010). "Polyphenolic Acids from Mint (the Aerial of Mentha haplocalyx Briq.) with DPPH Radical Scavenging Activity". Journal of Food Science. Volume 75, Issue 4, Pages C359-C362

Use of wild mint (Bo He) as food

Wild mint are also eaten as food. It is used as an ingredient in dishes such as Tabouleh or Cucumber & mint relish.