Hyssop Hyssopus officinalis is a perennial aromatic subshrub with slender herbaceous stems rising up from a woody base. It belongs to the Labiatae family and grows up to around half a meter in height. Native to southern Europe and temperate Asia, it has been naturalized in the United States. The essential oil is steam distilled from the flowering tops and leaves.
Major producing countries include France, Hungary and Holland. The yield is around 0.3 – 2% and the major chemical constituents of the essential oils are the ketones; pinocamphone, isopinocamphone, camphor around 48% and the monoterpenes; beta-pinene, camphene, limonene, myrcene, cis-ocimene around 28%. The yellow essential oil has a strong herblike aroma and blends well with cajeput, clary sage, eucalyptus, fennel, geranium, lavender, lemon, myrtle, niaouli, orange, rosemary, tangerine, tea tree and thyme.
Hyssop is a name of Greek origin. The Hyssopos of Dioscorides was named from ezob (a holy herb), because it was used for cleaning sacred places. It is alluded to in the Scriptures: ‘Purge me with Hyssop, and I shall be clean.’ Hyssop essential oil is used as a fragrance component in soaps, creams, lotions and perfumes. The oil is also used in the formation of bitters and liqueurs, as well as in pickles and meat sauces. In Traditional Medicine it is reportedly used in treating sore throats, coughs, colds, breast and lung problems, digestive disorders, intestinal ailments and menstrual complaints.
Psychologically, its sedative properties make it useful for anxiety, fatigue, nervous tension and stress related problems. On a physiological level, Hyssop has been found to be useful for bruises, cuts, wounds, dermatitis, eczema, inflammations, wounds and scars. Colds, flu and sore throats can also benefit from its use. Hyssop helps one to purge old beliefs that do not serve one Spiritual growth. It can calm the internal struggle of conflicting realities. It is used to purify sacred spaces. It can purge negativity. It can help one renew one’s commitment to life, especially when one has the feeling that life is getting you down. It is a great cleansing oil.
Non-irritating, non-sensitizing but slightly toxic due to its pinocamphene content. It should be used sparingly. Because of its ketone content (pinocamphone and Iso-pinocamphone) Tisserand and Balacs “Essential Oil Safety” contraindicate it for epilepsy, fever, pregnancy and children under 2 years of age.
Leung and Foster, Encyclopedia of Common Natural Ingredients, John Wiley & Sons, 1996
Beverley Hawkins, Aromatherapy 201 Course 1999 revised 2000, 2001,2002, 2003, 2004
Mrs. M. Grieves, A Modern Herbal www.botanical.com
Hyssop is covered in the Aromatherapy 201 Course
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