A small herb growing up to 60 cm in height with slim, pointed leaves and pale blue flowers. It grows in warm, dry, hilly places, especially on rocky slopes and sunny meadows.

Some five species of aromatic, herbaceous perennials and evergreen or semi-evergreen shrubs are included in this genus, which occurs in dry, sandy or rocket areas from Mediterranean regions to C Asia. Hyssopus officinalis is an excellent plant for borders or informal hedging, with colorful flowers that attract bees and butterflies. It may also be grown as a low, clipped hedge in knot gardens. The smaller rock hyssop is a useful late-flowering subject for edging, rock gardens, and containers. Hyssopus is the name used by Hippocrates, derived from the Hebrew ezob, "holy herb". Hyssop is an ancient herb, mentioned several times in the Old Testament for purification, though these references may possibly be to Origanum syriacum (See, Syrian Oregano), rather than to H. officinalis. It contains a camphoraceous volatile oil, and compounds similar to those found in Marrubium vulgare (See, horehound); hence its effectiveness for bronchial complaints, for which it has been used from ancient times.

Hyssop was recommended by the ancient Greek physician Hippocrates as a treatment for chest complaints, and it is still used today to treat colds, flu, bronchitis, and other respiratory disorders. This makes sense, as the herb contains marrubiin, a substance that has antiviral and antibiotic activities and also functions as a strong expectorant.

Semi-evergreen shrub with linear to narrowly lanceolate leaves, 2.5-5cm (1-2in) long. Dark blue (rarely pink or white), 2-lipped flowers, 1.5cm (½in) long, are produced in dense spikes in late summer.

Common Name:
Other Names:
Hissopo, Holy Herb, Jufa, Sacred Herb, Ysop
Botanical Name:
Hyssopus officinalis
United States, Mediterranean, Albania, Balkan States, France, Hungary, C and S Europe, W Asia, N Africa
Steam Distillation
Well-drained to dry, neutral to alkaline soil in sun. Trim hedges and cut specimen plants back hard in spring.
By seed sown in autumn; by softwood cuttings in summer. Variants may not come true from seed.
Leaves and flowering tops are picked as the buds open, and dried for infusions, syrup, liquid extracts, and tinctures, or distilled for oil.
45-60cm (18-24in)
60-90cm (24-36in)
f. albus
Has pure white flowers.

Subsp. aristatus
(Rock Hyssop)
Has a dense, dwarf habit and smaller spikes of flowers in early autumn.
Height: 30cm (12in)

f. roseus
Has pink flowers.
Named hyssopus (from the Herbrew ezob for "sacred herb") by the ancient Greek physician Hippocrates, hyssop's sharp camphorlike scent made it a favored cleaning and strewing herb in ancient temples and in medieval homes. Planted in vegetable gardens, hyssop repels the destructive cabbage moth but entices swarms of bees, butterflies, and hummingbirds. Through the centuries, hyssop was famously used as an antiseptic for infected wounds, and expectorant for coughs and chest ailments, and a rheumatism remedy. Today researchers known that it is additionally an excellent muscle relaxant and mild sedative. (It is also the primary ingredient in the liqueur Chartreuse.) While hyssop is forever immortalized in the famous biblical phrase, "Purge me with hyssop, and I shall be clean," some scholars believe that the hyssop of the Old Testament was really oregano. Other scholars are convinced that the biblical hyssop (which could also "make one white") was in fact the Middle Eastern caper (Capparis spinosa), which the Arabs call azaf. Besides being a culinary delicacy, caper, like hyssop, is an excellent expectorant and rheumatism remedy.
Parts Used:
Above ground parts, Whole plant, leaves, flowers, oil.
Color and Odor:
The essential oil is pale yellow in color and has a deep, penetrating, warm aroma with sweet undertones.
Long known for its cleansing properties by the Greeks and Romans. Popular with the Benedictine monks during the tenth century, it is one of the main ingredients of Chartreuse liqueur.
Stimulating, tonic, sedative, expectorant, hypertensive, antiseptic, antispasmodic
A bitter, aromativ, astringent herb that is expectorant, reduces inflammation, and lowers fever. It has a tonic effect on the digestive, urinary, nervous and bronchial systems.
This oil is best used in lower concentrations as it may cause irritation in sensitive people. The essential oil is a highly potent form of this herb. It is toxic in large doses. According to the literature it should not be used by women during pregnancy, or by epileptics. For safety, substitute the fresh herb.

This herb, in the form of essential oil, is subject to legal restrictions in some countries.
Magical Influences:
Purification, Conscious mind.
  • Circulatory System—An excellent regulator of blood pressure and a fine tonic in states of weakness and during convalescence. It is beneficial for cardiovascular disorders.
  • Respiratory System—Valuable in respiratory disorders as it liquefies mucus, promotes expectoration and relieves bronchial spasms. An excellent cough remedy. Beneficial for all catarrhal conditions, influenza and bronchitis.
  • Nervous System—A nerve sedative and tonic, hyssop strengthens the nerves and aids relaxation.
  • Skin—Very good for bruises and wounds.
  • Emotions—Clears the mind, giving a feeling of alertness. Brings deep emotions into focus producing clarity.
Medicinal Uses:
Internally for bronchitis, upper respiratory tract infections and congestion, feverish illnesses and coughs in children, gas, and colic (flowering plant); coughs (flowering plant or flowers). Externally for cuts and bruises (flowering plant); bronchial infections (medicated oil); nervous exhaustion (bath oil). Combined with Glycyrrhiza glabra (See, licorice) or Verbascum thapsus (See, great mullien) for persistent coughs, and with Eucalyptus globulus (See, blue gum) and Thymus vulgaris (See, common thyme) for bronchial congestion. Essential oil may cause epileptic fits and death.
To treat colds, diseases of the respiratory tract, liver problems, asthma, colic, and urinary tract inflammation.
Hyssop has antiflatulence, antiseptic, antispasmodic, astringent, digestive, expectorant, sedating, stomach-soothing, and tonic properties. It is also used as an emmenagogue, that is, an herb that brings on delayed menstrual periods. Hyssop is taken internally for anxiety, bronchitis, colds, congestion, coughs, cramps, flatulence, indigestion, and rheumatism. It is applied externally, in compresses, to treat burns, cold sores, genital herpes, minor wounds, and skin irritations. Hyssop is also used as a gargle for sore throats.
Hyssop is available as dried or fresh herb and in teas and tinctures. To make a tea, pour 1 cup of boiling water over 2 teaspoons of dried herb and steep for 15 minutes. Strain, and allow mixture to cool to room temperature. Drink 1/3 cup three times a day. For external application, soak a clean compress in the tea solution and apply warm to skin ailments, or place directly on chest to relieve congestion.
Typical Dose:
A typical dose of hyssop is two 445 mg capsules taken three times daily.
Do not use hyssop if you are pregnant or trying to conceive. Take hyssop at prescribed doses and only for short periods. Long-term use of the herb—beyond three or four days—should be monitored by a qualified medical practitioner. Mild side effects may include upset stomach or diarrhea.
Possible Side Effects:
Hyssop's side effects include nausea, vomiting, anorexia, diarrhea, and allergic reactions.
Drug Interactions:
Taking hyssop with these drugs may interfere with the actions on the drug:
Carbamazepine, (Carbatrol, Tegretol)
Fluphenazine, (Modecate, Prolixin)
Fosphenytoin, (Cerebyx)
Levetiracetam, (Keppra)
Oxcarbazepine, (Trileptal)
Phenytoin, (Dilantin, Phenytek)
Disease Effects:
May worsen seizure disorders.
Culinary Uses:
Leaves have a bitter, sage-mint flavor, used sparingly in soups, salads, legumes, and meat dishes. Flowers can be added to salads. Dried herb is used to make herb tea.
Economic Uses:
Essential oil is used to flavor bitters and liqueurs, such as Chartreuse.
Hyssop 4 Hyssop 4 Hyssop 4
Ylang-Ylang 3 Sandalwood 3 Jasmine 4
Rose 3 Cajeput 3 Lavender 2

Hyssop 4 Hyssop 4
Myrrh 4 Lemon 4
Cypress 2 Ylang-Ylang
Aromatherapy Blends and recipes by Franzesca Watson Copyright © 1995 Thorsons, Harper Parker Publishing Inc. Pp 108-109
Magical Aromatherapy by Scott Cunningham Copyright © 1989 Llewellyn Publications, Inc. pp.96-97
The Encyclopedia of Herbs by Deni Bown Copyright © 1995, 2001 Dorling Kindersley Limited pp. 240-241
The Essential Herb-Drug-Vitamin Interaction Guide by Geo. T. Grossberg,MD and Barry Fox,PhD Copyright©2007 Barry Fox,PhD. Pg.279
The Modern Herbal Primer by Nancy Burke Copyright©2000 Yankee Publishing, Inc. pp. 116-117