Thursday, July 1, 2010

Hyssop: Her Ancient Message Still Applies

(Hyssopus officinalis)

Behold, thou desirest truth in the inward parts: and in the hidden part thou shalt make me to know wisdom. Purge me with hyssop, and I shall be clean: wash me, and I shall be whiter than snow.
Psalms 51:6/7

To say that Hyssop has a timely message for humanity and for me personally right now would be a gross understatement. A few months ago, I began to feel compelled to write a monograph about her, but the time was not yet ripe. I could feel that she wanted me to wait just a bit longer, and now as I am beginning to fully integrate her message, I can understand why. Collectively, humanity is at a critical juncture. Both on a personal level and globally, we need to take inventory of our values, our possessions, our relationships and our responsibilities -basically everything- and make some serious choices. What is most valuable to us and worth keeping? What is no longer working and needs to be scrapped?

According the Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM) Five Element paradigm, the lungs are paired with the large intestines and are associated with the Metal Element (or more accurately, Phase). The Metal Phase represents evaluation and release- that is separating the pure from the impure- and eliminating what is left. It is crucial that we rid ourselves of that which no longer serves us in order to create space for new energies that will match our higher frequency. If we fail to do so, we become bogged down emotionally with attachments that drain us, and we find that instead of owning our possessions, our possessions own us. We become so hampered with responsibilities that are not ours that we have no energy left with which to take response-ability for what we must, such as a change of course or direction.

The lungs are also where we hold onto grief that has not been completely released. When we are burdened, whether from sadness, emotional constraint, or a resistance to necessary surrender, we can begin to fear healthy release. We may come to equate pure space with emptiness and loneliness instead of using that void as a starting point for Divine inspiration and creation. The analogy is also made in TCM that our lungs take in the breath of heaven, that is to say air, our physical connection to the intangible or the Divine. The Divine is Universal Truth and Love; a healthy ability to discern what is truly healthful to us and to disengage with what is not is a path to purifying our soul.

Many references hold true that Hyssop purifies the soul, helps one break old patterns of unhealthy thoughts or behavior, like anger, addictions and lack of forgiveness. What is a grudge, dependence, or resentment? Simply stated, unhealthy emotional patterns are based in judgment and often rooted in our inability to let go of our own imperfections enough to have true compassion for ourselves and others. What is forgiveness? The ability to release a judgment that we have been holding onto -whether it is toward ourselves or someone else- is a letting go, a surrendering. Breathing deeply, we inhale the Divine into our body and exhale the emotional weight we no longer need to carry.

On a physical level, Hyssop is one of the premier herbs for assisting the lungs in their ability to breathe deeply. It has an expectorant quality that will purge phlegm, but more specifically will thin mucous, making it more watery and easier to dislodge. Often taken as a tincture or syrup for bronchial complaints, herbalists may combine Hyssop with Mullein, Thyme, Licorice, Basil or other herbs that loosen phlegm, circulate energy in the chest and soothe coughs. A hot infusion of fresh or dried Hyssop herb is an effective remedy for the recent onset of colds or flu because it promotes a light perspiration that helps the body rid toxins through the pores and lowers a fever.

The crushed, fresh herb spread over bruises and contusions will help them to heal faster, and an infusion applied topically is helpful for achy joints. Steam from a hot infusion of Hyssop can help to soothe inflammations of the ear; its camphor-like aroma belies its ability to aromatically open areas of obstruction. In fact, the fragrance of Hyssop was once valued more highly than Lavender essential oil.

The herb is considered very safe; however it can stimulate the uterus and shouldn’t be utilized by pregnant women without professional guidance. Some sources suggest that it should not be used by children or by anyone with epilepsy because it may be a mild neurotoxin. Warnings that the herb can raise blood pressure indicate that it should never be used by anyone with hypertension. The essential oil (EO) has received much scrutiny due to the presence of the toxic ketone pinocamphene and cautions abound that advise consumers to dilute Hyssop EO in carrier oil to a concentration not exceeding 5% potency.

This logic does not take into account the thousands of trace chemicals and chemotypes that are also present in a pure steam-distilled, single source product which create a natural balance. In my opinion, a single chemical extracted and given at high concentrated doses does not represent Hyssop as a whole. I personally use several drops at a time of a very high quality, medicinal-grade Hyssop EO undiluted directly on my skin and have never had any adverse effects. In fact, I have several case studies that show the use of this high-grade oil, applied neat to the top or back of the head can help balance hypo and hypertension. Recently, one of my students was able to come off his high blood pressure medication after only 2 months of applying 4-5 drops of the oil this way on a daily basis. [Naturally, you must be responsible for your own choices if your instinct is to go against modern scientific reductionist data.]

Hyssop can help restore the nerves and soothe grief by generating strength, promoting clarity of thought, relieving depression and easing chest tightness. The judgment we attach our process when we are dealing with unpleasant emotional states is needless and causes us to tighten up, hold our breath and run a hamster wheel of worry. We would serve our higher self better by not succumbing to the temptation to be so internally harsh. Once again, deep and calm breathing helps to soothe the body, calm the mind and release emotional constraint. This release is a sacrifice of unnecessary attachments such as objects, emotions and relationships that no longer serve the highest good.

In the Bible the Jews in Egypt were compelled to protect themselves from the tenth plague by using a bunch of Hyssop to mark their doors with lamb’s blood. In this way, they would be spared the harsh judgment that would be reined upon the Egyptians, specifically the imposed sacrifice of their first born children and cattle, the embodiment of their successors and their assets.

"Take a bunch of hyssop, dip it into the blood in the basin and put some of the blood on the top and on both sides of the doorframe. Not one of you shall go out the door of his house until morning." Exodus 12:22

Hyssop, besides being regarded as an ancient mystical herb, ritually used for purging and purifying, has also been shown to inhibit many pathogens, including a modern plague, AIDS. Some recent studies have shown that the herb inhibits the replication of HIV and were not harmful to uninfected cells. It is believed that the high content of caffeic acid, certain tannins and some unidentified high molecular weight compounds are the active compounds in Hyssop that are generating this promising research.

It has been suggested in clinical trials that Hyssop may be effective at increasing CD4+ cells and supporting the immune system during HIV related infections. According to, “Two recent studies have reported on preliminary anti-HIV activity from hyssop fractions. A California research group identified a polysaccharide (deemed MAR-IO) that, depending upon concentration, inhibited the SF strain of HIV-1 in laboratory experiments designed to measure HIV-1 cell replication.”

Interestingly, Hyssop also shows some potential in the treatment of liver-related disease, including all forms of Hepatitis. In TCM, the Liver is where we energetically store emotions such as resentment and anger as well as our repressed feelings and unarticulated personal expression. Holding these patterns of stagnation can lead to a plethora of physical and emotional problems.

It is necessary for humanity to stop waiting for others to take responsibility for our own lives or the condition of the world today. Spiritual rebirth is from a place of Purity, and Purity comes from sacrificing that which we have outgrown. We must take inventory at all levels and begin purging superfluous attachments in order to start moving forward. Inspired by the clean and uncluttered space we open up, we can allow the Divine to enter and co-create the World we envision. This is Hyssop‘s message.

Lisl Meredith Huebner, Dipl.CH (NCCAOM), RH (AHG) is a nationally board certified Chinese Herbalist, and a Registered Herbalist with the American Herbalists Guild. Lisl is also a certified Medicinal Aromatherapist, a level II Reiki practitioner, an Acupressurist, an Auriculotherapist, a photographer, a renowned diagnostician, a teacher and a published writer in private practice for over a decade. She is available by appointment. Please call 8 6 0 - 4 8 0 - 0 1 1 5 or email if you have any questions, would like to schedule an appointment, attend meditations, weed walks, or are interested in taking classes.


  1. oh lisl! this was so beautiful and timely, i have been working with hyssop this year and am in love. thank you for sharing

  2. Hi there,
    I am using this medicinal oil for high blood pressure and applying it to the heart area as suggested by our practitioner. Do you feel that top or back of the head would be safer or more beneficial??

  3. Hi. Thanks for taking the time to comment! I'm hesitant to directly advise you about using anything... legally speaking... I also don't know which oils you are using. I am confident in the purity of the oils I use and that this company stands behind their product...
    If you are under the direct care of a qualified practitioner that you trust, I would continue to follow that path, or ask him/her about it.
    I wish you all the best and vibrant health!

  4. I truly believe hyssop is an ancient remedy whose time has come in modern times. It's properties are so wondrous and glad you covered this. How often do you use it?

  5. thank you for this beautiful post!