English: Wild mint

Chinese: 薄荷

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 Bo He (wild mint) 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 Bo He 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 Bo He is used*

Yin Qiao San

Source date: 1798 AD

Number of ingredients: 10 herbs

Formula key actions: Disperses Wind Heat. Clears Heat. Resolves Toxicity.

Conditions targeted*: Common coldInfluenza and others

Bo He is a deputy ingredient in Yin Qiao San. This means it helps the king ingredient(s) treat the main pattern or it serves to treat a coexisting pattern.

In Yin Qiao San, Bo He helps the key herbs to release exterior Heat.

Read more about Yin Qiao San

Ren Shen Bai Du San

Source date: 1119 AD

Number of ingredients: 12 herbs

Formula key actions: Releases the Exterior. Dispels Wind and Dampness. Augments Qi.

Conditions targeted*: Common coldInfluenza and others

Bo He is a deputy ingredient in Ren Shen Bai Du San. This means it helps the king ingredient(s) treat the main pattern or it serves to treat a coexisting pattern.

In Ren Shen Bai Du San, Bo He releases the Exterior, reduces the fever, and expels the pathogenic influences. Together with Bupleurum root, they are especially useful in releasing pathogenic influences from the muscle layer.

Read more about Ren Shen Bai Du San

Jing Fang Bai Du San

Source date: 1550 AD

Number of ingredients: 13 herbs

Formula key actions: Releases the Exterior. Dispels Wind and Dampness. Augments Qi.

Conditions targeted*: Common coldInfluenza and others

Bo He is a deputy ingredient in Jing Fang Bai Du San. This means it helps the king ingredient(s) treat the main pattern or it serves to treat a coexisting pattern.

In Jing Fang Bai Du San, Bo He releases the Exterior, reduces the fever, and expels the pathogenic influences. Together with Bupleurum root, they are especially useful in releasing pathogenic influences from the muscle layer.

Read more about Jing Fang Bai Du San

Sang Ju Yin

Source date: 1798 AD

Number of ingredients: 8 herbs

Formula key actions: Disperses Wind. Stops coughing by invigorating Lung Qi. Clears Heat.

Conditions targeted*: Common coldInfluenza and others

Bo He is a deputy ingredient in Sang Ju Yin. This means it helps the king ingredient(s) treat the main pattern or it serves to treat a coexisting pattern.

In Sang Ju Yin, Bo He assists the formula in releasing the Exterior

Read more about Sang Ju Yin

Jia Jian Wei Rui Tang

Source date: Qing dynasty

Number of ingredients: 8 herbs

Formula key actions: Nourishes the Yin. Clears Heat. Induces Sweating. Releases the Exterior.

Conditions targeted*: Common coldAcute tonsilitis and others

Bo He is a deputy ingredient in Jia Jian Wei Rui Tang. This means it helps the king ingredient(s) treat the main pattern or it serves to treat a coexisting pattern.

In Jia Jian Wei Rui Tang, Bo He gently releases the Exterior and also dispels Wind-Heat.

Read more about Jia Jian Wei Rui Tang

Pu Ji Xiao Du Yin

Source date: 1202 AD

Number of ingredients: 14 herbs

Formula key actions: Clears Toxic-Heat. Clears Wind-Heat .

Conditions targeted*: FurunclesCarbuncles and others

Bo He is a deputy ingredient in Pu Ji Xiao Du Yin. This means it helps the king ingredient(s) treat the main pattern or it serves to treat a coexisting pattern.

In Pu Ji Xiao Du Yin, Bo He disperse Wind-Heat from the Upper Burner, head, and face.

Read more about Pu Ji Xiao Du Yin

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

Liang Ge San

Source date: 1107 AD

Number of ingredients: 8 herbs

Formula key actions: Drains Fire. Unblocks the bowels by clearing the Upper Burner. Draining the Middle Burner.

Conditions targeted*: PharyngitisStomatitis and others

Bo He is an assistant ingredient in Liang Ge San. This means that it either serves to reinforces the effect of other ingredients or it moderates their toxicity.

In Liang Ge San, Bo He is light in nature. It serves as assistant that calms irritability and alleviates the attendant head and throat symptoms by moving the Protective Qi and venting Heat from the Exterior.

Read more about Liang Ge San

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 Bo He's properties

In Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM), Bo He belongs 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 Bo He is Cool in nature. This means that Bo He tends 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 Bo He can help restore a harmonious balance between Yin and Yang.

Bo He 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 Bo He 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 Bo He is 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 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

Sources:

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 Bo He as food

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