(Still can't figure out how to upload images here so heres a link to the picture i would use)
I’ve always been attracted to all things minty; I always have a tin of mints in my car, minty gum over cinnamon gum any day, and now minty tea is becoming a favorite go-to. What I did not know about mint, is that it is very beneficial for my constitutional maladies.
(In this post I will be talking about mint in general but specifically I am using information for Menthae haplocalycis Herba, “Bo He” in pinyin, 薄荷 in Mandarin, as it is the mint used in TCM and therefore, the ally I am familiar with.)
The first benefit of mint is that its spicy, “acrid” flavor and cooling nature is effective at dispelling redness, dryness, and irritation in the head, eyes and throat. It also simultaneously “generates fluids”, so it can soothe a sore throat both by dispersing the heat that is causing the irritation while also moisturizing the ole talkin tube!
Finally, the effect that helps me the most, mint has the ability to “Allow constrained Liver qi to flow freely” (Bensky, Materia Medica 1993). In Traditional Chinese Medicine, the Liver is in charge of assuring that all of the qi in the body is flowing both smoothly and in the correct direction. When this function is reduced, the organs of the body cannot properly complete their duties as they do not have the Qi (the motivating, propelling force of the internal human environment) to get the job done. On top of that, constrained Liver qi leads to “emotional frustration, depression or repressed anger” (Maciocia, The Foundations of Chinese Medicine, 2005). This connection with the mental-emotional state of an individual is often times difficult to explain, especially since I am a “Westerner” who is only at the beginning of the iceberg on thinking with the same logic as a Chinese medicine philosopher. However, here is my best attempt. The Liver is home to the Ethereal soul, the Hun, of the human, while the Heart is home to the Mind, the Shen. When Liver qi is constrained, the Ethereal soul, the part of our spirit that goes forth to explore while we dream, cannot smoothly coordinate and communicate with our Mind. Because of this disconnect, our dreams, desires and goals are not being properly relayed to our Mind, therefore we become frustrated!
The catch to this unfortunate cascade of events is that when we are frustrated, our Liver qi gets more bunched up, leading to more frustration! I know that I certainly have a lot to work on in that field, it is very easy and sometimes more satisfying to let my frustration take the wheel and drive my reactions. However, in the back of my mind I know that the more I let my frustration define my reaction, the more frustrated I will grow as it continuously feeds back on itself.
In order to break that cycle, I need more mint tea!
I hope you enjoyed reading this quick post on the benefits of mint tea! If you have any questions, let me know in the comments.
Disclaimer: This article is not intended to diagnose or prescribe anything, please consult with your local Chinese medicine doctor before self-diagnosing and using any medicinal herbs