The officinale Hyssop (Hyssopus officinalis L.) is an aromatic plant of the Lamiaceae family. It is an ancient herb cultivated for its therapeutic properties and uses in the kitchen.
The Hyssopus officinalis belongs to the Domain Eukaryota, the Kingdom Plantae, Division Magnoliophyta, class Magnoliopsida, Order Lamiales, Lamiaceae family, subfamily Nepetoideae, Hyssopus to Gender and then the species H. officinalis.
Hyssop The name comes from the Latin word hyssopu or greek hyssopos which in turn was derived from the Hebrew ezob or ESOB which means “holy herb.”
The dialect names are: fragrant grass, isopiglio, hyssop, Aesop, Issepo, thus special, Isop, Soleggio, issepo, lissope, issòpu, ippese, sopu grass, locasi, Erva ssopu.
In common parlance it is known as fragrant grass.
Geographic Distribution and Habitat –
It is a herbaceous plant native to the Mediterranean region that is found to the mountainous areas of Southern Europe (up to 1200 m s.l.m.), Western Asia, Morocco and Russia. In Italy it grows wild mainly in the north, in the stony, limestone, in the sunny and dry areas.
Hyssopus The genus belongs to the large family of Lamiaceae where we find very famous aromatic herbs such as mint, sage, marjoram, lavender, basil, oregano, thyme and many others. They are perennial plants bushy that develop between 30 and 60 cm in height, provided with a short rhizome, with woody stem at the base, very branched and slightly pubescent.
The leaves, no stems, are very fragrant and have a light down, lance-shaped and opposite, up to 3 cm and with the raised ribs.
The flowers are tubular, typical of the genre, bilabiati at the ends of the corolla, collected in very dense spikes that develop the axils of upper leaves. They are blue – purple color and bloom from July to September.
Although for the most part is the variety in blue-violet flowers, there are also varieties with white flowers (Hyssopus officinalis varieties albus) and pink flowers (Hyssopus officinalis varieties roseus).
The fruit is composed of four achenes that enclose inside them a single seed.
All aerial parts of the plant have a strong aromatic smell and a pungent taste.
For the cultivation technique consult the following card.
Customs and Traditions –
Hyssop is an excellent aromatic plant thanks to its strong aromatic smell and its pungent flavor.
It has a mint flavor a bit ‘bitter and can be added to soups, salads or meat, although it should be used sparingly because the flavor is very strong.
Enter into the composition of the Chartreuse liqueur and some kinds of absinthe.
Hyssop is a water ingredient in Cologne.
It is also used in certain liturgical celebrations of the Catholic Church to sprinkle the faithful congregation.
Dell’Hyssopus officinalis using the flowers and leaves that are the most aromatic parts; these contain: essential oil, tannins, choline, glycosides. The essential oil of hyssop is very aromatic, sweet-smelling and dark yellow and contains pinene, limonene, geraniol, thujone, pinocanfone, isopinocanfone, estragole, myrcene, caryophyllene, nopinene, issopina, tannin, resin, a glycoside, acid malic, rubber, sulfur.
The hyssop flowering tops contain in addition to the flavonoids and tannins to a bitter substance (marrubina) and a pleasant essential oil, responsible for the majority of its balsamic properties and expectorant for the respiratory tract. In herbal medicine it is used to calm the cough and asthma attacks, because it thins and helps remove phlegm especially of the bronchi and lungs.
Also, thanks to the essential oil possesses digestive properties: it stimulates the secretion of gastric juices, helps the digestive processes, eliminates intestinal gas.
The presence of flavonoids hyssop confers a diuretic and antiseptic for the urinary tract, are able to increase diuresis and maintain free from bacteria, the urinary duct, useful in bacterial infection and inflammation, to treat cystitis.
The essential oil is extracted from the leaves and flowers by steam distillation.
The infusion or decoction prepared with flowers and leaves of hyssop is used to bring benefits to lung problems and respiratory tract. Useful against colds, bronchitis, catarrh and asthma.
The plant has sweat. A poultice made from leaves and flowers, placed directly on the chest, has expectorant properties on phlegm.
When applied to wounds, the essential oil prevents infection and makes the healing faster.
The essential oil of hyssop is useful to stimulate different parts of the body including the digestive system. This, thanks to the hyssop, is able to better absorb the nutrients.
Thanks to its sweat the plant is also used to reduce fever.
It can be used for the treatment of pimples and acne but also to be beneficial in case of insect bites.
Two drops of essential oil added to bath water warm help to relax the body and mind.
In the kitchen they use the leaves that can be harvested throughout the year although the best, the most aromatic, are the ones that you just collect before flowering. They can also be dried for use over time because they keep their aroma.
The flowers can be used to decorate the dishes and give color to different dishes.
As well as the hyssop aromatic plant is also used to form small hedges.
And ‘excellent mellifera plant even if the honey is intensely fragrant.
In Persia the obtained dall’issopo distilled water is used for the skin as it is reputed to make it bright.
Hyssop is a plant that is mentioned in the Old Testament, namely Exodus 12, 22 which reads: “And take a bunch of hyssop, and dip it in the blood that is in the basin, and with the blood that is in the basin spruzzerete l ‘ lintel and the two doorposts; and none of you shall go out the door of his house until morning “to mark the houses of Jewish families not to suffer the wrath of God that would lead to the killing of the Egyptian firstborn.
It is even mentioned in the Book of Psalms (51: 9): “Purge me with hyssop, and I shall be clean, wash me and I shall be whiter than snow.”
We find in Hebrews 9, 19: “For when every commandment had been under the law by Moses to all the people, he took the blood of ‘calves and’ beaks with water and scarlet wool and hyssop, and sprinkled both the book itself and all the people. ”
From the Book of John 19, 29, who mentioned it to indicate that the branch was used to soak the sponge with vinegar to give to Jesus Christ on the cross: “Or was there a vessel full of vinegar. So soaked in vinegar and a sponge full on top of a branch of hyssop him approached the mouth. ”
In Leviticus 14: 6 is shown in the cleansing of the leper: “He shall take the live bird, the cedar wood, the scarlet yarn and the hyssop, and dip them and the living bird in the blood that was killed over the ‘living Water”.
In the book of Numbers 17-18 who is contaminated by touching a corpse or other things that make it impure reads “And for an unclean person they shall take of the ashes of the burning of purification from sin and pour upon it running water, in a jar; And a clean person shall take hyssop, and dip it in the water and sprinkle the tent, all the tools, all the people who are there, and upon him that touched a bone, or one killed or died a natural death or tomb”.
It must be noted, however, that many scholars raise serious doubts about whether the hyssop mentioned in the Bible is the same that we know and of which we speak in this card this because the Hyssopus officinalis does not grow in Palestine so they are more likely to associate it oregano (Origanum maru) that grew abundantly in the land at the time of the facts narrated.
The hyssop is mentioned by Pliny as a remedy against lice and itching in the head and against the bite of snakes. Hippocrates recommended it for pleurisy and Dioscorides (doctor, botanist and pharmacist greek lived between 40 and 90 BC who practiced in Rome at the time of Emperor Nero) recommended it in cases of asthma and phlegm and drunk as a tea with wine to combat mercury poisoning and lead.
Hildegard (Abbess Hildegard von Bingen, who lived in Germany from 1098 to 1179, a student of medicine) recommended it along with cinnamon and licorice as a remedy for diseases of the lungs and liver, and how to care for the man became a leper with other medicines .
Trota of Salerno, Italian doctor who in the eleventh century, he worked at the medical school of Salerno, recommended him to purify the lungs joined to the fig tree “For cold cough that is where the wine hyssop and dried figs have been cooked”
The same School of Medicine (the first and most important medical institution in Europe in the Middle Ages) mentions it in his lyrics: “The hyssop cleanses the chest of phlegm harmful. It uses the plant extract mixed with honey.”
Preparation Mode –
The flowers are picked at the beginning of flowering, so during the summer (July-August) because if collected at this time, have the highest content of essential oils as well as the leaves.
Once collected can be immediately dried in ventilated and dark places and stored dry in paper bags inside hermetically sealed vessels.
With the Hyssopus officinalis can prepare an infusion.
The infusion is prepared from a spoon satin of hyssop top and a cup of water.
You pour in boiling water hyssop and off the fire. It covers and leave to infuse for 10 min. Finally, the infusion is filtered to drink it in case of flatulence, cough and digestive problems.
For external use can be made of packs with sterile gauze pads soaked in tea, they are good for tired eyes, to cleanse the skin and heal wounds.
Gargling with the infusion water help in inflammations of the throat.
Like all plant hyssop also can result in allergic reactions. It is always better to first try a small dose so you can see the effects in advance. If you notice a rash, swelling of the skin or tongue or breathing difficulties she should immediately consult a doctor.
The essential oil of hyssop contains pinocanfone, a ketone which can cause seizures and convulsions if taken in excessive doses. Therefore, do not take the essential oil in high doses and for longer than ten days. Not recommended in pregnancy.
3 drops of oil of hyssop, added to a carrier oil, can be used to massage the sore muscles. The same compound, rubbed on the stomach, it is beneficial in case of gastrointestinal problems.
2 drops added to a body cream make it less visible scars.
Hyssop can be used in the kitchen by using its leaves and preferably those freshly harvested before flowering.
These have aromatic properties best. Its taste is bitter and reminiscent of mint. It can be used for cooking meat or can be added to soups and salads.
– Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia.
– Treben M., 2000. The Health from the Pharmacy of the Lord, tips and experiences with medicinal herbs, Ennsthaler Publisher
– Pignatti S., 1982. Flora of Italy, Edagricole, Bologna.
– Conti F., Abbate G., Alessandrini A., Blasi C. (ed), 2005. An annotated checklist of the Italian vascular flora, Palombi Editore.
Please note: Pharmaceutical applications and alimurgici uses are indicated for information purposes only, do not represent in any way a medical prescription; it accepts no liability on their use for therapeutic purposes, cosmetic or food.