Archive for category Hyssop'

Hyssop (Hyssopus otificinalis)

Hyssop: Medical Uses Hyssop is used for asthma, bronchitis, and coughs and as an expectorant, a diaphoretic, and a stimulant. Historical Use Hyssop, which is Greek for “holy herb,” was used to cleanse and purify for sacredness. Growth This perennial shrub of the Lamiaceae family grows on the sides of roads and can be planted in herb gardens. The leaves and flowers have a camphorlike odor and a bitter taste because of their volatile oils. Hyssop can be planted next to cabbage plants to deter insects. Parts Used • Dried aerial (above-ground) parts Major Chemical Compounds • Terpenoids • Volatile acids • Flavonoids • Lyssopin • Tannin Hyssop: Clinical Uses Hyssop is used for asthma, bronchitis, and coughs and as an expectorant, a diaphoretic, and a stimulant. Mechanism of Action Caffeic acid, unidentified tannins, and unidentified higher molecular weight compounds exhibit strong anti-HIV activity, which maybe useful in treating patients with AIDS. Hyssop: Dosage Tea as an infusion: Steep 1 to 2 teaspoon of dried flower tops in 150 mL of boiling water for 10 to 15 minutes. Strain and drink up to three times a day (Natural Medicines, 2000). Gargle: Tea may be used as a gargle (Natural Read more […]


Hyssopus officinalis Family: Lamiaceae Part used: leaves and flowering tops Hyssopus officinalis L. is a semi-evergreen sub-shrub, native to the Mediterranean region Southern Europe but introduced elsewhere and naturalized on walls in Dorset and in parts of Central Europe. It can be hardy but may not survive winter weather. It is the only representative of the genus in Europe and four subspecies are identified, although their status is not definite. The Flora of Turkey gives one Hyssopus species, Hyssopus officinalis subsp. angustifolius. Branched, square stems (to 60 cm) bear entire, opposite, narrowly lanceolate leaves with glands on each side. Bright blue flowers, with a characteristic smell, occur from August to October in spikes of dense, whorled clusters of three to seven flowers. The flowers are tubular with a short upper lobe and longer three-lobed lower lip. The tubular calyx is toothed. Other varieties: White forms and pink forms of hyssop are sometimes found, and Hyssopus officinalis subsp. aristatis is a compact variety with smaller spikes of flowers. Quality The variability of the volatile oils in hyssop is discussed in an extensive review by Jankovsky & Landa (2002) that also refers to Read more […]

Hyssop: Ancient Uses And The Epilepsy Debate

As in many herbs, Dioscorides and Pliny read very similarly on hyssop, although Dioscorides seems more trim and precise. Galen is very succinct, saying only it is hot and dry in the third degree and ‘of thin parts’. Dioscorides says it has a warming property. He recommends it for inflammations of the lungs, asthmatics, a chronic cough, catarrh and orthopnoea (serious asthma, when the patient cannot breathe unless upright), boiled with figs, water, honey and rue. The same will kill intestinal worms and can also be used as ‘lozenge with honey“. The decoction with vinegar and honey ‘expels thick masses down the abdomen’. It will purge the bowel eaten with ‘brayed green figs’ and will act more strongly as a cathartic mixed with ‘garden cress or iris or hedge mustard’ (Beck). ‘It achieves even fresh and healthy looks’. As a plaster with fig and soda (other authors have nitre/saltpetre here) it is useful for the spleen and for oedemata, for inflammations with wine. Beck’s translation continues, ‘it also disperses black eye when plastered on with hot water. It is an excellent gargle for sore throat with a decoction of figs and it assuages toothaches when cooked with vinegar and employed as a mouthwash. Its vapour stops inflations Read more […]

A Warming Respiratory Herb And Further Applications

From Dioscorides and Galen we have a picture of a warming herb, dispelling cold by heating and thinning. Hyssop’s prime reputation lies in its use for the respiratory system: it clears the build up of cold mucus and eases its effects, extending even to the ears. All authors to the present day refer in some way to this virtue. Dodoens specifically recommends the preparation of a lohoch or loch – a ‘licking medicine’, of middle consistency, between a soft electuary and a syrup – for relief of obstruction, shortness of breath and an old, hard cough. Parkinson offers a recipe for old coughs and voiding tough phlegm; a handful of hyssop, 2 oz figs, 1 oz sugar candy; boil in a quart of Muscadine until half a pint be consumed; strain and take morning and evening. In the more local tradition too this application appears in the Myddfai texts, with hyssop and centaury Centaurium erythraea pounded and strained and mixed with white of egg and drunk for 3 days for tightness of the chest; and red fennel and the tops of hyssop, bruised with mallows and boiled to strengthen the lungs, throat and chest. Its warming influence reaches the bowels too, moving cold, heavy deposits there. The warmth generated inside is presumably responsible Read more […]

Hyssop: Limitation

By the 18th century the variety of preparations appears to have been reduced. According to Miller the only official preparation was the simple water. The use to which hyssop was put appears a little slimmed down but enthusiasm for its virtues continued. Miller has it as ‘healing, opening and attenuating, good to cleanse the lungs of tartarous humours and helpful against coughs, asthmas, difficulty of breathing and cold distempers of the lungs; likewise reckoned a cephalic and good for diseases of the head and nerves. The bruised herb applied outwardly is famous for taking away black and blue marks out of the skin’. An amount of Dioscorides’ applications have gone; the respiratory uses remain, plus a reputation as a general cephalic and good for the nerves, presumably from Pliny. Quincy praises the use of hyssop but the indications are further shrunken to just the chest ‘it is good in many kinds of coughs and disorders of the lungs and breasts which arise from phlegm and viscid humours. It is good in asthmas, promotes expectoration and gives relief in difficulty of breathing. It is almost a constant ingredient in pectoral apozems’. Quincy rates the distilled water of the shops highly: ‘This is one of those few simples Read more […]

Hyssop: Later Uses

Late 19th and early 20th century authors are still following Dioscorides, Robinson (1868) almost exactly (via Parkinson). Hool in the 20th century records a breadth of properties: aromatic, diaphoretic, anthelmintic, aperient, febrifuge, expectorant, diuretic. He says it is a herb highly esteemed in infancy. For bronchitis, hoarseness and cough he gives a recipe: hyssop ½ oz, symphytum y, oz, pour on 2½ pints of water, boil gently for 10 minutes, strain, sweeten with sugar or molasses, take a wineglassful every 2-3 hours or oftener. Mrs Grieve attributes the virtues to the volatile oil which, she says, is stimulating, carminative and sudorific; particularly promoting expectoration, and the diaphoretic and stimulant properties too being useful in chronic catarrh. She says it is frequently mixed with horehound Marrubium vulgare. Although in her day it was ‘seldom employed (as it once was)’ as a carminative and for hysterical complaints, she attests to the use of the fresh green tops as tea as an old-fashioned country remedy for rheumatism ‘that is still employed’. Is this perhaps an echo of Dioscorides’ use for inflammation? The British Herbal Pharmacopoeia records the presence of volatile oil and flavonoid glycosides, Read more […]