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Family Labiatae / Lamiaceae
Hyssopus officinalis
Ngau sat chou

Scientific names Common names
Hyssopus alopecuroides Fisch. ex Benth Hyssop (Engl.)
Hyssopus altissimus Mill.  
Hyssopus angustifolius M. Bieb.  
Hyssopus beugesiacus Jord. & Fourr.  
Hyssopus caucasicus Spreng. ex Steud.  
Hyssopus decumbens Jord. & Fourr.  
Hyssopus fischeri Steud.  
Hyssopus hirsutus Hill  
Hyssopus judaeorum Sennen  
Hyssopus myrtifolius Desf.  
Hyssopus officinalis Linn.  
Hyssopus orientalis Adam ex Willd.  
Hyssopus passionis Sennen & Elias  
Hyssopus polycladus Jord. & Fourr.  
Hyssopus pubescens Jord. & Fourr.  
Hyssopus recticaulis Jord. & Fourr.  
Hyssopus ruber Mill.  
Hyssopus schleicheri G.Don ex Loudon  
Hyssopus torresii Sennen  
Hyssopus vulgaris Bubani  
Thymus hyssopus E.H.L.Krause  
Hyssopus officinalis L. is an accepted name The Plant List

Other vernacular names
CHINESE: Ngau sat chou, Shen xiang cao.
DUTCH: Hyssop.
FRENCH: Hysope.
GERMAN: Eisop.
GREEK: Issopos.
HINDI: Zufah-yabis.
ITALIAN: Issopo.
SPANISH: Hisopo.
URDU: Zufah.

Gen info
Hyssops is a plant used since classical antiquity. Earliest reference to the plant goes back to the seventh century. Its camphorlike odor found utility as a cleansing herb; as an odor-eater it was strewn in sickrooms and kitchen floors.

Hyssops is a strongly aromatic perennial herbaceous plant belonging to the mint family, growing 30 to 60 centimeters or higher, upright and with many branched square stems. Leaves are opposite, linear to lanceolate, hairless, long and sessile, 1 to 1 1/2 inches long. Flowers are in whorls with a tubular corolla, two-lipped, blue or violet in color, with bell-shaped calyxes.

- Cultivated as ornamental and herbal plant.
- Occasionally grown as ground cover.

- Native to Southern Europe and temperate zones of Asia. In India, found in the Himalayas.

- Plant yields several polyphenolic compounds, primarily the flavonoids apigenin, quercetin, diosmin, luteolin and their glucosides. Other phenolic compounds are chlorogenic, protocatechuic, ferulic, syringic, p-hydroxybenzoic acid and caffeic acids. (12)
- The aromatic volatile oil is found in its leaves, stems, and flowers.

- Essential oil analysis yielded the main components of cis-pinocamphone 42.9%, trans-pinocamphone 14.1%, germacrene-D-11-ol 5.7%, and elemol 5.6%. (13)
- Study of aerial parts of H. officinalis yielded apigenin 7-O-ß-D-glucoronide as the major flavonoid. Essential oil yielded 20 compounds representing 99.97% of the oil, with main compounds of myrtenylacetate , camphor, germacrene, spathulenol. (see study below). (16)
- Study of essential oil yielded compounds that corresponded to 97.2% to 98% of total oil content. Major compounds were cis-pinocamphonne (44.98%-50.77%), ß-pinene (13.38%-13.54%), trans-pinocamphone (5.73%-5.94%) and ß-phellandrene (4.44%-5.17%). (see study below) (22)
- Study of cell suspension cultures from callus of H. officinalis yielded two sterols i.e., ß-sitosterol and stigmasterol, together with pentacyclic triterpenes identified as oleanic acid, ursolic acid, 2a, 3ß-dihydroxyolean-12-en-28-oic acid and 2a,3ß,24-trihydroxyurs-12-en-28-oic acid. (23)

- Considered antiseptic, astringent, carminative, emmenagogue, expectorant, purgative, stimulant, stomachic.
- Studies have suggested antibacterial, antifungal, antidiabetic, antioxidant, antiviral, ulceroprotective, antileishmanial properties.

- Shares a common name with Artemisia vulgaris.
- Cross-allergenicity in those sensitive to plants in the Asteraceae/Compositae family; ie, ragweed, chrysanthemums, marigolds and daisies.
- Warning has been made that volatile oil can cause convulsions. Avoid with epilepsy or fits. (5)

Parts utilized
- All aerial parts.
- Cut the stems before the flowers open, hang the bunches upside down in a warm and dark place.

- Leaves and flowers are edible.
- It's minty leaves and flowers used as flavoring for salads, soups, and poultry stuffing.
- Although too pungent for most palates, it has been used for herbal wines.
- Tincture and tea of the flower used to cure jaundice and dropsy.
- Helps improve stomach tone.
- Crushed leaves or poultice of ground leaves promotes healing of wounds and bruises.
- Hot vapors of its decoctions for inflammation of the ears.
- Infusion or decoction used for wound cleansing.
- Decoction of flowers used as expectorant.
- Used for liver and gall bladder complaints.
- As gargle and expectorant for colds and respiratory ailments.
- Infusion of leaves used externally for rheumatism. Also, as bath herb for rheumatism.
- Used to treat chest congestion, coughs; used as mild sedative.
- Used as gargle for sore throats.
- Used as poultice for bruises, sprains, wounds and insect bites.
- Used as a purgative.
- In China, used to relieve colds and asthma.
- Baths: Flowers and leaves used for herbal baths.
- Perfumes: Aromatic oil used in perfumes and potpourris.
- Bees, birds and butterflies are attracted to its flowers.
- Liquers: The volatile oil is a key ingredient to some liqueurs. Its medicinal odor is notable in two liqueursBenedictine and Chartreuse.
- Ritual: Used for purgation (religious purification) in Egypt, where, according to Chaeremon of Alexandria, priests eat it with bread to purify the food making it suitable for their austere diet.

Antifungal / Essential Oil:
In the study, the essential oil of HO showed a very strong antifungal activity. The most abundant components in oil are isopinocamphone (43%), pinocamphoe (16%) and b-pinene (16%). The essential oil was fungistatic on Aspergillus fumigatus. The strong antifungal potential of Hyssop essential oil can be explained by the high amount of ketones, its main constituents. (1) Hyssop oil demonstrated antifungal activity against 52 clinical isolates and reference strains of Candida albicans, C. glabrata, C. tropicalis, C. paraapsilosis, and C. krusei. The essential oil inhibited both fluconazole-sensitive and fluconazole-resistant strains. (see constituents above) (22)
Study yielded pinocamphone and isopinocamphone. All yeasts were strongly inhibited, seven strains of C albicans, C krusei and C tropicalis. Limonene may be responsible for the antimycotic action. (2)
Diabetes / a-Glucosidase Inhibitory Activity / Leaves:
Study of aqueous methanol extracts of dried hyssop leaves showed (alpha)-glucosidase inhibitory activity. (3)
Phenolics / Rosmarinic Acid:
Transformed roots induced by infection with Agrobacterium rhizogenes produced high levels of phenolic compounds such as rosmarinic acid and lithospermic acid. B. (4)
Antioxidant / Free Radical Scavenging Activity:
In a study that established the antioxidant potency of of four medicinal and aromatic plants, H officinalis was second in DPPH-radical scavenging and first in reducing powers. (6)
In a study of the in vitro antimicrobial activity of three plant extracts including H officinalis against B subtilis, E coli, P aeruginosa, S typhimurium and S aureus, maximum antibacterial activity was exhibited by all three plant extracts, including P aeruginosa which was not inhibited by the control antibiotic. (7)
Anti-Inflammatory / Antiasthmatic:
Study evaluated the Uygur medicine H. officinalis on T-bet, GATA-3, STAT-3 mRNA levels of asthma rats to explore the mechanisms of its treatment effect in asthma. Results showed Hyssopus officinalis probably regulates the differentiation of Th1, Th2 and Th17 on transcription level for its anti-inflammatory effect. (11)
Inhibition of Airway Inflammation / Immune Regulation:
Study evaluated the effect of Hyssopus officinalis on airway immune regulation and airway inflammation in a mouse model of chronic asthma. Results showed H. officinalis not only plays an anti-inflammatory role by inhibiting the invasion of eosinophils and decreasing the levels of IgE, but also affects immune regulation. (14) Study evaluated the mechanism of Uygur herb H. officinalis in the process of airway remodeling. Results showed H. officinalis could inhibit airway remodeling by correcting imbalance of MMP-9/TIMP-1 ration. (21)
Study evaluated the alcoholic extracts of H. officinalis, Tussilage farfara, Carum copticum for in-vitro effects on Leishmania major. The plant extracts showed significant in vitro antileishmanial activities. (15)
Phytochemical Analysis / Antioxidant:
Study evaluated the flavonoid content of aerial parts of H. officinalis. Apigenin 7-O-ß-D-glucoronide was isolated as the major flavonoid. The N-butanol extract, because of the highest phenolic content had the best antioxidant activity. (see constituents above) (16)
Essential Oil of Aerial Parts / Antibacterial:
Study of essential oil of aerial parts yielded thirty nine components, with major components of thymol 18,95%, ß-bisabolol 10.62%, carvacrol 7.73%, n-Dodecan (5.23%, caryophyllene 4.96%, ortho-acetanisol 4.72%, camphor 3.47%, cumin aldehyde 3.22% and spathulenol 3.02%. The oil showed high antibacterial activity against Erwinia amylovora and Klebsiella sp. (17)
Ulceroprotective / Antioxidant:
Pretreatment with an ethanol extract of Hyssopus officinalis in ethanol-induced gastric ulcer in rats showed significant ulceroprotective and antioxidant effect. (18)
Muscle Relaxing Activity / Essential Oil:
Study evaluated the muscle relaxing activity of essential oil of H. officinalis and some of its main components (isopinocamphone, limonene and beta-pinene) on isolated preparations of guinea-pig and rabbit intestine. EO and isopinocamphone inhibited acetylcholine- and BaCl2-induced contractions in guinea-pig ileum. EO blocked CaCl2 induced contractions in guinea pig ileum. (19)
Effect on Airway Remodeling in Asthmatic Mice:
Studies have shown HO can affect levels of cytokines in asthmatic mice. This study evaluated the mechanism of H. officinalis in the process of airway remodeling in asthmatic mice. Result showed HO could inhibit airway remodeling by inhibiting imbalance of MMP-9/TIMP-1 ratio. (20)
• Inhibition of HIV Replication:
A 1990 study reported on the strong anti-HIV activity of crude extracts of dried leaves via inhibition of synciytia formation, HIV reverse transcriptase (RT), and p17 and p24 antigen expression. Study showed HO extracts contain caffeic acid, unidentified tannins, and possibly a third class of unidentified molecular weight compounds that exhibit strong anti-HIV activity. (24)
• Antiviral Polysaccharide: Study evaluated a polysaccharide (MAR-10) from the aqueous extract of HO for activity against HIV-1 (SF strain) in HUT78 T cell line. MAR-10 showed a concentration-dependent inhibition of HIV-1 replication via inhibition of HIV-1 p24 antigen and syncytia formation. (25)

- Cultivated.
- Wildcrafted.

- Hyssop essential oil, capsules and seeds in the cybermarket.

© Godofredo U. Stuart Jr., M.D.

Updated May 2017 / June 2015
May 2008

Photos © Godofredo Stuart / StuartXchange
OTHER IMAGE SOURCE: / Illustration / drawing / Original book source: Prof. Dr. Otto Wilhelm Thomé Flora von Deutschland, Österreich und der Schweiz 1885, Gera, Germany Source: www.biolib.de / PUBLIC DOMAIN / Wikipedia

Additional Sources and Suggested Readings

Antimicrobial properties of the linalol-rich essential oil of Hyssopus officinalis L. var decumbens (Lamiaceae) / Flavour and fragrance journal / 1998, vol. 13, no5, pp. 289-294
Isolation of {alpha)-glusosidase inhibitors from hyssop (Hyssopus officinalis) / Hideyuki Matsuura, Hiroyuki Miyazaki et al / Phytochemistry, Volume 65, Issue 1, January 2004, Pages 91-97/ doi:10.1016/j.phytochem.2003.10.009
Rosmarinic acid and related phenolics in transformed root cultures of Hyssopus officinalis / Yoshie Murakami et al / Plant Cell, Tissue and Organ Culture • Volume 53, Number 1 / April, 1998 / DOI 10.1023/A:1006007707722

Hyssopus officinalis - L. / Hyssop / Plants For A Future
Assessment of antibacterial activity of three plantsused in Pakistan to cure respiratory diseases / Zabta Khan Shinwari et al / African Journal of Biotechnology Vol. 8 (24), pp. 7082-7086, 15 December, 2009
Hyssopus officinalis L. / Synonyms / The Plant List
Hyssopus officinalis / Wikipedia
Hyssop / Common names / Spices Board India
The effect of Uygur medicine Hyssopus officinalis L on expression of T-bet, GATA-3 and STAT-3 mRNA in lung tissue of asthma rats / Wang HY, Ding JB, Halmurat U, Hou M, Xue ZQ, Zhu M, Tian SG, Ma XM. / Xi Bao Yu Fen Zi Mian Yi Xue Za Zhi. 2011 Aug;27(8):876-9.
A review on Hyssopus officinalis L.: Composition and biological activities / Fathiazad Fatemeh and Sanaz Hamedeyazdan / African journal of pharmacy and pharmacology, 11/2011; 5(8):1959-1966. / DOI: 10.5897/AJPP11.527
ESSENTIAL OIL COMPOSITION OF HYSSOPUS OFFICINALIS L. CULTIVATED IN SERBIA / Vesna Mitić, Siniša Đorđevic / FACTA UNIVERSITATIS Series: Physics, Chemistry and Technology Vol. 2, No 2, 2000, pp. 105 - 108
Effect of Hyssopus officinalis L. on inhibiting airway inflammation and immune regulation in a chronic asthmatic mouse model / Xiaojuan Ma Xiumin Ma Zhixing Ma Jing Wang Zhan Sun Wenyan Yu Fengsen Li / Experimental and Therapeutic Medicine, November 2014, Vol 8, Issue 4: pp 1371-1374 / DOI: 10.3892/etm.2014.1978
In Vitro Activity of Hyssopus Officinalis, Tussilage Farfara, Carum Copticum Extracts Against Leishmania Major in Iran / Fatemeh Tabatabaie, Mohsen Golestani, Lame Akhlaghi, Amir Hooman Asadi, Mehri Noori, and Fatemeh Maleki* / Advanced Studies in Biology, vol. 6, 2014, no. 4, 193 - 201 / http://dx.doi.org/10.12988/asb.2014.4843
Phytochemical analysis and antioxidant activity of Hyssopus officinalis L. from Iran / Fatemeh Fathiazad*, Masoumeh Mazandarani, Sanaz Hamedeyazdan / Advanced Pharmaceutical Bulletin, 2011, 1(2), 63-67
Essential Oil Composition and Antibacterial Activity of Hyssopus officinalis L. Grown in Iran / Nooshin Dehghanzadeh, Saghar Ketabchi, Ardalan Alizadeh / Asian J. Exp. Biol. Sci. 3(4) 2012: 761-771
To Explore the Ulceroprotective and Antioxidant Potential of Hyssopus officinalis in Ethanol-Induced Gastric Ulcers in Rats / Amita Saini and Ramica Sharma* / British Journal of Pharmaceutical Research, Vol. 2, Issue 3 (July-September)
Muscle relaxing activity of Hyssopus officinalis essential oil on isolated intestinal preparations. / Lu M, Battinelli L, Daniele C, Melchioni C, Salvatore G, Mazzanti G. / Planta Med. 2002 Mar;68(3):213-6.
The Effects of Uygur Herb Hyssopus officinalis L. on the Process of Airway Remodeling in Asthmatic Mice / Xiaojuan Ma, Xiumin Ma, Zhixing Ma, Zhan Sun, Wenyan Yu, Jing Wang, Fengsen Li, and Jianbing Ding / Evidence-Based Complementary and Alternative Medicine Volume 2014 (2014) http://dx.doi.org/10.1155/2014/710870
The Effects of Uygur Herb Hyssopus officinalis L. on the Process of Airway Remodeling in Asthmatic Mice / Xiaojuan Ma, Xiumin Ma, Zhixing Ma, Zhan Sun, Wenyan Yu, Jing Wang, Fengsen Li, and Jianbing Ding / Evidence-Based Complementary and Alternative Medicine, Volume 2014 (2014) /
Chemical composition and antifungal activity of essential oil of Hyssopus officinalis L. from Bulgaria against clinical isolates of Candida species / Yana Hristova, Juergen Wanner, Leopold Jirovetz, Iris Stappen, Ivan Iliev & Velizar Gochev / Biotechnology & Biotechnological Equipment , Volume 29, Issue 3, 2015
Sterols and Triterpenes in Cell Culture of Hyssopus officinalis L. / Zuzanna Skrzypek* and Halina Wysokinska / Z. Naturforsch. 58c, 308Ð312 (2003)
Inhibition of HIV replication by Hyssop officinalis extracts / Kreis W, Kaplan MH, Freeman J, Sun DK, Sarin PS. / Antiviral Res. 1990 Dec;14(6):323-37.
Isolation of a previously unidentified polysaccharide (MAR-10) from Hyssop officinalis that exhibits strong activity against human immunodeficiency virus type 1. / Gollapudi S, Sharma HA, Aggarwal S, Byers LD, Ensley HE, Gupta S. / Biochem Biophys Res Commun. 1995 May 5;210(1):145-51.

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