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Hyssop



    Scientific Names

    Hyssop
    • Hyssopus officinalis L.
    • Labiatae
    • Mint family

    Common Names

    ivyHoly Herb
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    Parts Usually Used

    Above ground portion
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    Description of Plant(s) and Culture

    A bushy evergreen plant; 1-2 feet high, once widely cultivated for medicinal uses, it is now grown mostly as an ornamental shrub. The plant consists of several square, branched, downy stems which are woody at the bottom and bear opposite, entire (toothless) sessile, glabrous to hairy, linear-lanceolate leaves that have a peppery scent when stroked firmly. The rose-colored to bluish-purple flowers (1/2 inch) grow in successive axillary whorls at the tops of the branches and stems from June to October. Zones 3-10. Not heat-tolerant.

    Prefers full sun and warmth but will accept some light shade. Prune back severely in winter or early spring.

    Other varieties: Blue giant hyssop or anise-hyssop (Agastache foeniculum) is anise scented; White-flowered cultivar (A. snow spike); Korean anise hyssop (A. rugosa); Mexican giant hyssop (A. mexicana); and yellow giant hyssop (Agastache nepetoides) has saw-toothed leaves; A. alba has white flowers; and A. rosea has pink flowers.
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    Where Found

    Grows wild in warm countries, dry soils, and frequently cultivated. Introduced into the warmer parts of the United States from southern Europe. Native to Europe and temperate Asia.
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    Medicinal Properties

    Anthelmintic, aromatic, aperient, astringent, carminative, emmenagogue (stimulates menstrual flow), febrifuge, anti-inflammatory, anti-viral, antispasmodic, expectorant, stimulant, diaphoretic, stomachic, sudorific, tonic.
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    Biochemical Information

    Volatile oil, tannin and glycoside (diosmine), flavonoids, marrubin
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    Legends, Myths and Stories

    Herbs were well known in ancient Egypt. And in the Bible, Exodus 12:22, "And Ye shall take a bunch of hyssop, and dip it in the blood that is in the basin, and strike the lintel and the two side posts with the blood that is in the basin; and none of you shall go out of the door of his house until the morning." Scholars believe the hyssop of this reference is Origanum aegyptiacum rather than Hyssopus officinalis.

    David, of the Bible, knew the benefits of hyssop. He drew lessons from the remedy, which he used in showing the cleansing of the body from sin, for he said, "Purge me with hyssop, and I shall be clean; wash me, and I shall be whiter than snow" (Psalms 51:7).

    Planted as a companion to cabbage (deters the cabbage moth) and grapes. Keep away from radishes.

    Hyssop is an herby fragrance used in Chartreuse, Benedictine and other liqueurs.

    Hyssop is historically known as a holy herb, used for cleansing sacred places. Hyssop is a name of Greek origin, adopted from the Greek azob (a holy herb), because it was often used to clean the temples and other sacred places.
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    Uses

    A cleansing herb, relieves catarrh, cough, and reduces the secretion of mucus. Regulates blood pressure (high or low), clears the chest and calms the nerves. It promotes sweating, so this herb is useful when coping with fevered patients. Improves digestion and protects the body from infection. An excellent tonic.

    Hyssop is used in essentially the same way as sage, with which it is sometimes combined to make a gargle for sore throats. Hyssop tea can be used for poor digestion, breast and lung problems, expels worms, gravel in gall bladder, conjuncivitis, fever sores (fever blisters), chew dried leaves for toothache, used with horehound for bronchitis and asthma, coughs due to colds, nose and throat infections, consumption, mucous congestion in the intestines, laxative, cystitis, flatulence, scrofula, dropsy, and jaundice. The decoction is said to help relieve inflammations, and it can also be used as a wash for burns, bruises, ulcers, or chronic catarrh. Apply the crushed leaves directly to bruises or to wounds to cure infection and promote healing.

    Experimentally, extracts are useful against herpes simplex. Effective on insect stings and bites, kills body lice.
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    Formulas or Dosages

    Do not use continuously for extended periods.

    Harvesting takes place when the first flowers are about to open. The oils and flavor off all herbs are in the leaves and green stems and not in the wooden parts. Drying usually completed in 2 days.

    Hyssop tea is made by pouring a pint of boiling water over an ounce of the green tops and is considered excellent tasting.

    Infusion: steep 1 tsp. dried herbs in 1/2 cup water. Take 1/2 to 1 1/2 cups per day, a mouthful at a time. For breast and lung problems, sweeten with honey if desired.

    Prepare a standard infusion of the leaves and diced stem. As a lotion, this brew relieves inflammation and bruising, being noteworthy for its beneficial effect on black eyes.

    Decoction: use 1 tsp. herb with 1 cup water. Take 1 to 2 cups per day.

    Poultice: soak the fresh herb in boiling water for 15 minutes and place on a cloth for application.

    Poultice: soak the herb 15 minutes in boiling water and place on a cloth.
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    Warning

    The essential oil contains the ketone pino-camphone, which in high doses can cause convulsions. Do not take more than the recommended dose.

    Do not take for more than 2 weeks without seeking medical advice.
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    Bibliography

    Buy It! The Herb Book, by John Lust, Bantam Books, 666 Fifth Avenue, New York, NY. copyright 1974.

    Buy It! Old Ways Rediscovered, by Clarence Meyer, Meyerbooks, publisher, PO Box 427, Glenwood, Illinois 60425, published from 1954, print 1988

    Buy It! Back to Eden, by Jethro Kloss; Back to Eden Publishing Co., Loma Linda, CA 92354, Original copyright 1939, revised edition 1994

    Buy It! Culpeper's Complete Herbal & English Physician: Updated With 117 Modern Herbs, by Nicholas Culpeper, Meyerbooks, publisher, PO Box 427, Glenwood, Illinois 60425, 1990, (reprint of 1814)

    Buy It! The Complete Medicinal Herbal, by Penelope Ody, Dorling Kindersley, Inc, 232 Madison Avenue, New York, NY 10016, First American Edition, copyright 1993

    Buy It! Eastern/Central Medicinal Plants, by Steven Foster and James A. Duke., Houghton Mifflin Company, 215 Park Avenue South, New York, NY 10000

    Buy It! The Nature Doctor: A Manual of Traditional and Complementary Medicine, by Dr. H.C.A. Vogel; Keats Publishing, Inc., 27 Pine Street (Box 876) New Canaan, CT. 06840-0876. Copyright Verlag A. Vogel, Teufen (AR) Switzerland 1952, 1991

    Herbal Gardening, compiled by The Robison York State Herb Garden, Cornell Plantations, Matthaei Botanical Gardens of the University of Michigan, University of California Botanical Garden, Berkeley., Pantheon Books, Knopf Publishing Group, New York, 1994, first edition

    Buy It!The Magic of Herbs, by David Conway, published by Jonathan Cape, Thirty Bedford Square, London, England. (Out of print)

    Buy It! Planetary Herbology, by Michael Tierra, C.A., N.D., O.M.D., Lotus Press, PO Box 325, Twin Lakes. WI 53181., Copyright 1988, published 1992

    Buy It! American Folk Medicine/i>, by Clarence Meyer, Meyerbooks, publisher, PO Box 427, Glenwood, Illinois 60425, 1973

    Buy It! Indian Herbalogy of North America, by Alma R. Hutchens, Shambala Publications, Inc., Horticultural Hall, 300 Massachusetts Avenue, Boston, Massachusetts 02115, 1973

    Buy It! Earl Mindell's Herb Bible, by Earl Mindell, R.Ph., Ph.D., Simon & Schuster/Fireside, Rockefeller Center 1230 Avenue of the Americas, New York, New York 10020

    Prescription for Nutritional Healing, Fifth Edition: A Practical A-to-Z Reference to Drug-Free Remedies Using Vitamins, Minerals, Herbs & Food Supplements, by James F. Balch, M.D. and Phyllis A. Balch, C.N.C., Avery Publishing Group, Inc., Garden City Park, NY

    Buy It! Taber's Cyclopedic Medical Dictionary, 15th Edition, F. A. Davis Company, 1915 Arch Street, Philadelphia, PA 19103

    Buy It! Webster's New World Dictionary, Third College Edition, Victoria Neufeldt, Editor in Chief, New World Dictionaries: A Division of Simon & Schuster, Inc., 15 Columbus Circle, New York, NY 10023

    Buy It! How Indians Use Wild Plants for Food, Medicine & Crafts, by Frances Densmore, Dover Publications, Inc., 180 Varick Street, New York, NY 10014, first printed by the United States Government Printing Office, Washington, in 1928, this Dover edition 1974

    Buy It! The Herbalist Almanac, by Clarence Meyer, Meyerbooks, publisher, PO Box 427, Glenwood, Illinois 60425, copyright 1988, fifth printing, 1994

    Buy It! The Yoga of Herbs: An Ayurvedic Guide to Herbal Medicine, by Dr. David Frawley & Dr. Vasant Lad, Lotus Press, Twin Lakes, Wisconsin, Second edition, 1988.

    Buy It! The Rodale Herb Book: How to Use, Grow, and Buy Nature's Miracle Plants (An Organic gardening and farming book), edited by William H. Hylton, Rodale Press, Inc. Emmaus, PA, 18049., 1974

    Buy It! Country Home Book of Herbs, Meredith Books, Editorial Dept. RW240, 1716 Locust Street, Des Moines, IA 50309-3023, copyright 1994

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