Bo He

Menthae Herba, Mentha


3-6g decoction.


LD50 (hypodermic injection/natural menthol): 5-6g/kg (mice), 1g/kg (rats). LD50 (hypodermic injection/synthetic menthol): 1.4-1.6g/kg (mice), 1.5-1.6g/kg (rats) (1)

Chemical Composition

Menthol; Menthone; Isomenthone; Pulegone; Decyl acetate; Menthyl acetate; methyl benzoate; (-,(-pinene;(-thujene; 2-pentol;2-hexanol; 3-octanol; Myrcene; Limonene; Cineole; (-Terpineol; Isoraifolin; Luteolin-7-glucoside; methoside; Rosmarinic acid; Caffeic acid; Aspartic acid; Glutamic acid; Sirine; Glycine; Threonine; Alanine; Asparagine; Valine; Leucine; Isoleucine; Phenylalanine; Methionine; Lysine;(3,4-dihydroxyphenyl-6,7-dihydroxy-1,2-dihydronaphthalene-2,3-dicarboxylic acid; (3,4-dihydroxyphenyl)-3-[2-(3,4-dihydroxyphyenyl)-1-carboxy]-ethoxycarbonyl-6,7-dihydroxy-1,2-dihydronaphthalene-2-carboxylic acid; 7,8-dihydroxy-2-(3,4-dihydroxyphenyl)-1,2-dihydronaphthalene-1,2-dicarboxylic acid; [2-(3,4-dihydroxyphenyl)-1-carboxy] ethoxycarbonyl-2-(3,4-dihydroxyphenyl)-7,8-dihydroxy-1,2-dihydronaphtha-lene-3-carboxylic acid; [2-(3,4-dihydroxyphenyl)-1-carboxy] ethoxycarbonyl-2(3,4-dihydroxyphenyl)-7,8-dihydroxy-1,2-dihydronaphthalene-1-carboxylic acid; 1,3-bis-[2-(3,4-dihydroxyphenyl)-1-carboxy] ethoxycarbonyl-2-(3,4-dihydroxyphenyl)-7,8-dihydroxy-1,2-dihydronaphthalene; [2-(3,4-dihydroxyphenyl)-1-methoxycarbonyl] ethoxycarbonyl-2-(3,4-dihydroxyphenyl)-3-[2-(3,4-dihydroxyphenyl)-1-carboxy] ethoxycarbonyl-7,8-dihydroxy-1,2-dihydronaphthalene; [2-(3,4-dihydroxyphenyl)-1-methoxycarbonyl] ethoxycarbonyl-2-(3,4-dihydroxyphenyl)-3-[2-(3,4-dihydroxyphenyl)-1-methoxycarbony] ethoxycarbonyl-7,8-dihydroxy-1,2-dihydronaphthalene; 1,3-bis[2-(3,4-dihydroxyphenyl)-1-methoxycarbonyl]ethoxycarbonyl-2-(3,4-dihydroxyphenyl)-7,8-dihydroxy-1,2-dihydronaphthalene. (2)


Reported adverse effect: allergic alveolitis. Contraindications: Insufficient superficial resistance with profuse perspiration.


Effects on central nervous system

Administered orally at low dosages, by stimulating the central nervous system, Bo He can dilate dermal capillaries, promote perspiration, and increase heat dissipation. (3) A pentobarbitone solution with 4.5% menthol can significantly shorten mice's induced sleep time, and increase the rate of sudden death. (4)

Effects on the reproductive system

Bo He oil can counteract implantation and abort early-stage pregnancy and implantation. (5)

Anti-pathogenic effects

  • Anti-bacterial effect: Bo He decoction can inhibit bacteria such as Staphylococcus aureus, Staphylocuccus albus, streptococcus A, Shigella flexneri, Bacillus diphtheriae, and typhoid bacillus. (6)
  • Anti-viral effect: Bo He can inhibit herpes simplex virus, vaccinia virus, Semliki virus, and epidemic mumps virus. (7) Anti-scolic effect: Oleum menthae can repell roundworms in dogs and cats. Wild Bo He is also an effective mosquito and gadfly-repellent. (8)

Effects on smooth muscles

In-vitro experiments on rabbits show that menthol has an inhibitory effect on the ileum; the same inhibitory effect is observed on the uterus of guinea-pigs. (9)

Liver protection and cholagogic effects

Oral administration of menthol and menthone shows a relatively strong cholagogic effect. Administered by subcutaneous injection to rats with carbon tetrachloride-induced liver damage, Bo He solution can significantly lower the activity of serum glutamic pyruvic transaminase, reduce swelling and ballooning degeneration of liver cells. (10)

Effects on the respiratory system

The counter-irritant effect of menthol promotes tracheal secretion and facilitates flow of viscous mucus. (11)

Effects on permeability

Experiments show that menthol can significantly increase the endermic absorption rate of salicylic acid and 5-fluorouracilo (12) , raise the bioavailability of bupleurum (peaking 1.6 times earlier) (13) , and enhance the endermic absorption of paracetamol. (14)


  1. Ni Jian Guo, et al. Journal of Clinical Application of Internal Medicine. 1998;15(4):226.
  2. Editorial Committee of Chinese Materia Medica. State Drug Administration of China. Chinese Materia Medica. Shanghai: Science and Techonology Press; 1998.
  3. Editorial Group of Chinese Herbal Medicine. Beijing: People's Medical Press; 1975.
  4. Wang Hui, et al. Journal of Modern Applied Pharmacy. 1995;12(3):1-2.
  5. Yang Shi Jie, et al. Journal of Chinese Materia Medica. 1991;22(10):454-457.
  6. Wang Yu Sheng (ed). Application and Pharmacology of TCM. Beijing: People's Health Press; 1983.
  7. Wang Yu Sheng (ed). Application and Pharmacology of TCM. Beijing: People's Health Press; 1983.
  8. Yin Jian, et al. (editors). Modern Research and Clinical Application of TCM. Beijing: College Press; 1994.
  9. Xie Yi Ruo, et al. Journal of Teaching and Practicing Medicine. 1988;4(3):1-4, 36.
  10. Yin Jian, et al. (editors). Modern Research and Clinical Application of TCM. Beijing: College Press; 1994.
  11. Yin Jian, et al. (editors). Modern Research and Clinical Application of TCM. Beijing: College Press; 1994.
  12. Wu Song Xia, et al. China Journal of Hospital Pharmacy. 1994;14(8)367.
  13. Wang Hui, et al. Journal of Chinese Patent Medicine. 1996;18(6):4.
  14. Zhang Zhi Ping, et al. Journal of Anatomy. 1994;17(1):11-14.