Hyssop is a member of the plant family Lamiaceae (Lahiatae). It is indigenous to Mediterranean countries but now grows freely throughout Europe, in Russia and in the United States of America. It is cultivated for oil production in France, Italy, Spain, Hungary and the Balkan countries. (Hyssop oil)
The plant is bushy and is a perennial. It grows to a height of approximately 5 feet (1.5 meters). It has small pointed leaves and flowers that vary in color from pink, through violet to blue.
The herb has been used for many years in traditional herbal medicine, mainly for digestive ailments or problems of a respiratory nature, in particular coughs and bronchitis.
The essential oil of hyssop is obtained from the leaves and flowers of the plant by the process of steam distillation. The oil is colorless or pale greenish yellow and has a fragrance that is fresh and spicy. It is used for this fragrance in the production of soaps and other toiletries and also in the production of perfume. Hyssop oil is also employed in the manufacture of some food and drink products as a flavoring agent.
Therapeutically, hyssop has several possible applications, but it also has a certain amount of toxicity so should be used with care. Seek the advice of a trained therapist before using it at home. Hyssop oil is sedative in effect and can be used to treat anxiety, nervous tension and stress, either in bathing or in massage.
Hyssop is particularly beneficial in the treatment of respiratory ailments. It is antiseptic, antiviral and bactericidal and will help combat colds, influenza, bronchitis, asthma and sore throats. It also has expectorant properties that will help in the treatment of catarrh. It is antispasmodic so will soothe persistent irritating coughs.
Hyssop is an emmenagogue so can be used to treat amenorrhoea (absence of periods). Because of these properties it is unsuitable for use during pregnancy.
Hyssop can be used to regulate high or low blood pressure. Those who suffer from either problem should, however, seek qualified advice as it is important to find the cause in order to determine what treatment is appropriate.
In massage or in bathing, hyssop can also bring relief from flatulence and colic.
Hyssop can be used in skin care to soothe dermatitis and eczema.
Essential oil of hyssop should be used with care as it has a degree of toxicity.
Warning: Not to be used during pregnancy. Has a degree of toxicity – use in strict moderation. Not to be used by epileptics. Not recommended for home use unless on the advice of a trained therapist.