Plalm 51:7 says 'Purge me with Hyssop, and I shall be clean.'
Hyssop is a plant that historically was used for cleaning sacred places (azob – in translation from Greek “a holy herb”). Its botanical name is Hyssopus officinalis, its common name – Hyssop. Other names: Curdukotu, hastipippili, hisopo, yanagi-hakka.
It belongs to the genus Hyssopus and to the mint family (Lamiaceae). It is an evergreen erect perennial garden herb that is near 60 cm in height with small pointed leaves and purple-blue flowers (some cultivars have pink or white). The plant has a strong sweet camphor-like scent which is pleasant for humans and attractive for bees. The flowers have rather bitter taste.
This plant is also known from the New Testament – on the branch of hyssop a sponge soaked in sour wine was stuck to offer it to Jesus just before His death on the cross. General term for the plant "kalamos" was used in the Books of Matthew and Mark, which is translated as "reed" or "stick".
Hyssop is native to Southern Europe and Asia. It was brought to England in 1597 by John Gerard (an author of the Herball or Generall Historie of Plantes). Then it was easily naturalized throughout North America as it grows wild in chalky soil and on rocky and dry slopes in the Mediterranean.
Hyssop flowers from June to October. It is commonly known as garden flower because it is very useful in companion planting. Hyssop attracts the white butterfly, which is a pest to cabbage and broccoli that prevent the food from infestation. Also when planted nearby it increases the flavor of the fruit.
The flower needs occasional cutting in without further attention.
For folk medicine the aboveground parts (flower-tops) of hyssop are used, that are collected during flower and turned into hyssop oil with the help of steam distillation. It should be cut in August.
As a kitchen herb - hyssop leaves and flowers have been used for flavoring the food and beverages for a long time. There is sure something unique in fruit dishes, soups, salads, sauces, meat dishes, and vegetable dishes where hyssop is added. A strong tea made of the leaves with some honey to make it sweet has been a nice tasty remedy for throat. Hyssop oil is used as ingredient in some French liqueurs.
As a garden herb – an edging plant that makes a lovely border when grown with other flowers (such as Lavender and Rosemary).
Hyssop (fresh or dried) can be also used as a nice decoration element.
Action and Health Benefits
Hyssop has several active constituents - volatile oil, flavonoids, tannins and marrubin. Its healing virtues and common usage as an expectorant, diaphoretic, pectoral, carminative and stimulant are thanks to hyssop essential oil which is stimulative, sudorific and carminative. It contains pinocamphone and isopinocamphone which has neurotoxic effects. It is also a nice anti-inflammatory and antispasmodic.
Hyssop Tea is used in lung, nose and throat congestion and catarrhal complaints. It has been historically used to treat respiratory problems. Hippocrates recommended hyssop as a remedy for bronchitis. By herbalists it is also widely used in treating pulmonary diseases. When taken in warm infusion it acts as an expectorant and helps to break up congestion in the lungs.
Hyssop is usually added to soups to those who have asthma.
It can be a remedy for bruises (it reduces the swelling and discoloration); and for cuts and wounds in case of occasional incident in the garden as antiseptic when there is nothing else left- bruised hyssop leaves and sugar.
Used externally as a skin wash for burns healing and as a discomfort relieve from insect bites – as anti-inflammatory.
Its oil increases alertness and is a gently relaxing nerve tonic that is a natural antidepressant (for treating nervous exhaustion, depression, overwork and anxiety).
Hyssop Tea is used to improve the tone of a feeble stomach – as a digestive aid, relieving flatulence and relaxing the digestive system.
An infusion of the leaves is used externally for the relief of muscular rheumatism. Hyssop baths are recommended as pleasant part of the cure for it.
The herb has some antiviral properties. It helps the immune system to fight colds and other respiratory infections.
It is a diaphoretic - acts to promote perspiration, helps to reduce the fever and to eliminate toxins through the skin.
It even helps to eliminate head lice when applied as a hair rinse.
Hyssop can brings one lots of merits when used in good wise hands, but with caution. It is not by a chance a biblical herb famous for all these virtues.
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