Essential Oil of the Month: Hyssop – The Biblical Herb!

Scientific classification
Kingdom: Plantae
(unranked): Angiosperms
(unranked): Eudicots
(unranked): Asterids
Order: Lamiales
Family: Lamiaceae
Subfamily: Nepetoideae
Tribe: Mentheae
Genus: Hyssopus L.
Species: H. officinalis
Binomial name
Hyssopus officinalis L.
Hyssopus decumbens

Common Method Of Extraction: Steam distilled
Parts Used: Flowering plant
Note Classification: Middle
Aroma: Sweet, rich herbaceous, camphoraceous
Largest Producing Countries: Spain, Hungary, and France

Hyssop (Hyssopus officinalis – Labiatae)

The name comes from the Greek, hyssopus, itself derived from the Hebrew ezob, meaning good scented herb. A hardy green bushy plant with narrow dark leaves similar to those of lavender and rosemary, it grows to around 30 – 60 cm (1-2 ft) in height. It originated in southern Europe and was introduced to Britain by the Romans (and then to America by early settlers). It grows wild in France in rocky soil and on old ruins; in Britain it is often found in garden borders or hedges, mixed with rosemary, catmint and lavender. Its beautiful flower tops are usually royal blue, but can be white or pink. The flowers are highly aromatic and attractive to bees and butterflies.

Hyssop, both flowers and leaves, has been highly valued since ancient times for its therapeutic properties, and was one of the bitter herbs mentioned in the Old Testament (used in the Passover ritual). Hippocrates, Galen and Dioscorides favoured its bechic and pectoral properties. In pagan religious ceremonies, hyssop was sprayed on worshippers to purify them. The Romans used it medicinally and culinarily, the latter both for protection against plague and for its aphrodisiac effect in conjunction with ginger,thyme and pepper. Thomas Tusser in 500 Points of Good Husbandry (1573) recommended hyssop as a strewing herb, and by the time of the great herbals of the Middle Ages, the herb was so well known that their writers felt no need to go into too much detail about it.


In Illness

Hyssop is pectoral, an expectorant, decongestant, stimulant, sudorific and is carminative. It is recommended for coughs, colds, ‘flu, bronchitis, asthma and chronic catarrh. The plant also includes the chemicals thujone and phenol, which give it antiseptic properties. Hyssop can also be used externally, and one of the recurring recommendations is as a poultice of young bruised leaves on a bruise, cut or wound. It has been also used in the formulation of eye drops and mouthwash. Herb hyssop has also been observed to stimulate the gastrointestinal system.

Other Uses

Hyssop is one of the ingredients of some eau de colognes, and it is also used in the making of absinthe and vermouth. It can be infused in the rinsing water for linen.

The plant is commonly used by beekeepers to produce a rich and aromatic honey.

Herb hyssop leaves are used as an aromatic condiment. The leaves have a lightly bitter taste due to its tannins, and an intense minty aroma. Due to its intensity, it is used moderately in cooking. The herb is also used to flavor liqueur, and is part of the official formulation of Chartreuse.

Benefits: Bruises, colds, cough, fatigue, fevers, flatulence, indigestion, inflammation, loss of appetite, nervous tension, sore throat, stress related conditions, wounds.

Blends Well With: Bay, clary sage, geranium, grapefruit, lavender, lemon, mandarin, myrtle, orange, rosemary, sage

Essential Oil should not be applied directly to the skin but in carrier oils, putting the oils directly on the skin is too harsh due to their concentrated form. Add a few drops of Hyssop essential oil to the carrier oil.

If you are pregnant, receiving cancer treatment,or have a weakened immune system the use of essential oils is not recommended!  Hyssop should be avoided if you are epileptic or have a seizure disorder! Never take an essential oil orally without consulting a medical professional.

While essential oil will not go rancid, carrier oils can. Store your carrier oils in a cool, dry, and dark place.


While I’ve attempted to use credible sources for information, this is not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice or treatment. If there is a disparity between the information presented within this blog and the advice given by your medical professional, please follow the medical professional’s advice as he/she will know you and your medical circumstances. These statements has not been evaluated by the Food and Drug Administration. This information is not intended to diagnose, treat, cure or prevent disease.

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