Hyssop (Hyssopus officinalis)


The Greek word, hyssopos, may have derived from the Hebrew, ezob, or holy herb , as it was used to purify temples and for the ritual cleansing of lepers (Psalm 51:7). This may not have been the common hyssop, however, but rather a form of oregano or savory or a local variety of marjoram.

Pliny mentions a wine called hyssopites, which may have influenced the Benedictine monks who, in the 10th century, brought the herb into central Europe to flavour their wines and their foods.

Hippocrates prescribed it for pleurisy.

Dioscorides recommended a recipe that included a mixture of hyssop, figs, rue, honey, and water to treat a variety of conditions, including pleurisy, tightchestedness, respiratory congestion, asthma, and chronic coughs.

Hyssop is one of the most important of the 130 herbs flavouring the liqueur Chartreuse.

Key Actions

  • antiviral (mainly against Herpes simplex)
  • antispasmodic
  • carminative
  • diaphoretic
  • expectorant
  • relaxes peripheral blood vessels
  • reduces phlegm
  • topical anti-inflammatory

Key Components

  • volatile oil (mainly camphor, pinocamphone, and beta-pinene)
  • flavonoids (including hesperidin and diosmetin)
  • tannins
  • bitter terpenes (including marrubin)
  • glycosides (mainly hyssopin)
  • resin