Mint is known by the Chinese name Bo He [pronounced Bu-o-uh Huh] in the Traditional Chinese Medicine Materia Medica.
Bo He is very common in the Pacific Northwest and many of us have probably pulled it up as a weed or used it in various dishes. Did you know it had medicinal properties?
As a lightweight, acrid and aromatic herb, it helps move and disperse “pathogenic factors” which contribute to colds, flus and allergy symptoms. Bo He can also move Liver Qi for reducing stress and pain.
Here is a summary of Bo He’s actions and indications in Chinese herbal medicine:
Bo He; Herba Menthae:
Channels Entered: Lung, Liver
Temperature/Flavor: Cool, Acrid
Energetically it enters the Lung and Liver channels and is cool in nature, and since it is lightweight, it rises to the orifices clearing stagnation from the head and eyes in particular. This means peppermint as part of an herbal decoction, or as plain old peppermint tea, is especially useful in relieving head and eye symptoms associated with colds, flus and allergies.
Also, since Bo He enters the Liver channel as well as the Lung, it can also be used to alleviate “Liver Qi Stagnation” which can manifest as abdominal pain and distention or as STRESS - a feeling that you are stuck, trapped or overwhelmed by life. By freeing your Liver Qi or energy you can relieve some of this tension to help balance the emotions.
If you are using fresh mint from your yard simply pick the plant and boil it in water for 10-15 minutes to make a tea. You can also focus your decoction by using different parts of the plant as well as some simple additions - the leaves enter the Lung channel more readily for cold and flu symptoms and the addition of Chrysanthemum can help, while the stems enter the Liver channel more readily for abdominal discomfort and stress. Here, some fresh ginger and orange peel can focus the stress and digestive functions
So the next time you're feeling a little overwhelmed by life, try lifting your spirits the Chinese Medicine way - with a little mint tea!
Until next time,
Rebecca M H Kitzerow is a Licensed Acupuncturist practicing in La Center, Washington. With over a decade of experience she has won 10 Nattie consumer choice awards from Natural Awakenings Magazine since 2014.