Bo He (Mentha or Mint)

What Is Bo He

Bo He is also known as Mentha, Mint, or Mentha haplocalyx, which is a perennial herb belonging to the family Lamiaceae. It is a relatively practical and common Chinese herbal medicine, which first appeared in <Tang Ben Cao> in 659 AD.

There are about 24 species of mentha, which are mainly distributed in temperate regions of the northern hemisphere. They are widely used in many fields such as medicine, food, cosmetics, essence, and so on. Among them, the leaves of some plants can be eaten directly. Among them, Mentha haplocalyx, M. spicata, M. crispata, and M. citrata are often cultivated as medicinal plants.

Mentha haplocalyx is a long-day plant. They have strong adaptability, and they often grow beside rivers in mountainous wetlands below 2,100 meters above sea level. They are mainly distributed in China, South Korea, Japan, and North America.


In summer and autumn when the stems and leaves of Mentha haplocalyx are flourishing, people collect their above-ground parts, remove impurities and their old stems, moisten them, cut them into sections, dry them in the shade, use them directly, or make them into Chinese herbal medicines.

Bo He contains menthol crystal, menthone, pulegone, menthyl acetate, decyl acetate, carypohyllene, citrene, eudesmin, α-pinene, hesperidin, diosmin, linarin, acacetin, caffeic acid, trans-cinnamic acid, benzoic acid, rosmarinic acid, emodin, chrysophanol, emodin methyl ether, aloe-emodin, ursolic acid, daucosterol, benzoic acid, β-sitosterol, triterpenes, monoterpenes, amino acids, polysaccharides, vitamins, and some trace elements.

Generally, the dark green Bo He with a rich aroma is preferred.

According to <Compendium of Materia Medica>, the medicinal nature of Bo He is slightly cool, with a pungent taste. It has a certain therapeutic effect on pathological changes of lung and liver meridians.

In traditional Chinese medicine, it is often used to dispel wind and heat, relieve sore-throat and promote eruptions, soothe the liver and promote qi flow, and treat colds, bronchitis, sicca rhinitis, atrophic rhinitis, acute mastitis, chronic urticaria, acute conjunctivitis, vaginitis, whooping cough, sarcoma, insomnia, bad breath, oral ulcers, pharyngitis, stomach pain, measles, rubella, rheumatoid arthritis, intestinal dysfunction after gynecological surgery, stress-induced sub-health depression, and abdominal distension caused by compression fractures of the thoracolumbar vertebrae.

There are about 300 kinds of Chinese medicine prescriptions containing it, such as Xiao Yao Wan, Niuhuang Shangqing Wan, and Chuanbei Pipa Gao.


  • Anti-inflammation, inhibiting xylene-induced mouse ear swelling and egg white-induced mouse foot swelling.
  • Anti-oxidation, scavenging DPPH free radicals, hydroxyl free radicals, and superoxide anion free radicals.
  • Inhibiting herpes simplex virus, respiratory syncytial virus, vaccinia virus, orphan virus, Semliki forest virus, and epidemic mumps virus.
  • Inhibiting D-galactosamine-induced acute liver injury in mice and protecting the liver.
  • Exciting the central nervous system, expanding skin capillaries, and promoting sweat gland secretion.
  • Dispelling wind and heat, treating fever, mild aversion to wind and cold, and headache caused by wind-heat or warm diseases.
  • Treating headache, vertigo, hot eyes, and delacrimation caused by wind heat attacking the upper.
  • Treating sore throat caused by wind heat.
  • Promoting eruptions, and treating the insufficient outbreak of early measles, and rubella itching.
  • Soothing liver and promoting qi flow, treating distending pain in the hypochondrium, abnormal menstruation caused by liver depression and qi stagnation.
  • Removing dampness for regulating the stomach, treating abdominal distention and pain, vomiting, and diarrhea caused by summer-heat and dampness.
  • Menthol and menthone can increase the amount of bile excretion in experimental animals.
  • Menthol can increase the secretion of respiratory tract mucus, reduce the foamy sputum of the respiratory tract, reduce the weight of secretions, increase the effective ventilating cavity, and dilute the thick mucus for easy discharge.
  • Inhibiting the proliferation of gastric cancer SGC-7901 cells, ovarian adenocarcinoma SK-OV-3 cells, and lung cancer A549 cells, and inducing apoptosis of colon adenocarcinoma cells Caco-2.
  • Inhibiting Staphylococcus aureus, Staphylococcus epidermidis, Proteus, Pseudomonas aeruginosa, Escherichia coli, Streptococcus pneumoniae, Candida albicans.
  • Its volatile oil can induce vaginal bleeding, embryo peeling, embryo atrophy, and degeneration in pregnant mice. It has anti-fertility effects.
  • Studies have found that menthol crystal can promote the penetration of rhynchophylline, and menthol can promote the penetration of metronidazole.


Side Effects

  • At present, there is no literature report that Bo He has toxic effects, and there is no data showing that taking it at the prescribed dose can cause serious adverse reactions.
  • Overdose may cause stomach pain or cold limbs.

Precautions and Warnings

  • The dosage of Bo He should be controlled at 3-6g.
  • It can be made into decoctions, pills, or medicinal liquors.
  • It contains a lot of volatile oil and is not suitable for long decoction.
  • People who are allergic to Bo He should not take it.
  • Patients with deficiency-cold in the spleen and stomach should not take it.
  • Patients with hyperhidrosis should not take it.
  • Pregnant and breastfeeding women should not take it.