The herb hyssop ( Hyssop officinalis ) has a long history of use in both religion and medicine. The biblical phrase “purge me with Hyssop, and I shall be clean” echoes the ancient Greek use of this herb for cleansing sacred sites. Various preparations of hyssop have been used medicinally for respiratory problems, including cough, chest congestion, sore throat, and bronchitis. Hyssop has also been used to treat a variety of digestive problems, including stomach pain and intestinal gas. The fragrant essential oil of hyssop is an ingredient in the liqueur Chartreuse.
What is Hyssop Used for Today?
The essential oil
Very preliminary evidence, too weak to rely upon at all, hints that extracts of hyssop might have anti-HIV activity.
A typical dose of hyssop essential oil is 1–2 drops daily. Hyssop tea is made by steeping 2–3 teaspoons of herb in a cup of hot water, and may be taken two to three times daily for sore throat.
Hyssop has undergone no more than minimal evaluation for safety. Hyssop tea is thought to be relatively benign, but hyssop essential oil (like most essential oils) is toxic in excessive doses. Some of its constituents might increase risk of seizures.
For this reason, hyssop essential oil should not be used by people with
2. Gollapudi S, Sharma HA, Aggarwal S, et al. Isolation of a previously unidentified polysaccharide (MAR-10) from Hyssop officinalis that exhibits strong activity against human immunodeficiency virus type 1. Biochem Biophys ResCommun . 1995;210:145–151.
3. Miyazaki H, Matsuura H, Yanagiya C, et al. Inhibitory effects of hyssop ( Hyssopus officinalis ) extracts on intestinal alpha-glucosidase activity and postprandial hyperglycemia. J Nutr Sci Vitaminol (Tokyo) . 2004;49:346–9.
6. Millet Y, Tognetti P, Lavaire-Perlovisi M, et al. Experimental study of the toxic convulsant properties of commercial preparations of essences of sage and hyssop [in French]. Rev Electroencephalogr Neurophysiol Clin . 1979;9:12–8.
Last reviewed April 2009 by EBSCO CAM Review Board
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