Common Hyssop.

Botanical name: 

Hyssop. (Hyssopus officinalis).

Also see Hool, 1918: Hyssop.

Although a plant extensively cultivated in gardens and by market gardeners, and sold by them in large quantities to people in our public market places, it is not a native of Great Britain or Ireland, but has now become so habited in this country that it is an acknowledged British plant, and up to recent years was known to almost every man, woman, and child. Hyssop is a plant which grows from 1 to 1 ½ and sometimes 2 feet high. The stems are quadrangular—that is, four-square; leaves opposite alternately, lanceolate, and of a green colour. The flowers are of a beautiful blue colour, and are in one-sided whorls and in racemes, pointing one way; the calyx is five-parted; the divisions nearly equal, with 15 ribs; corolla with lower lip three-parted, middle division of the corolla two-lobed, very entire, middle segment mostly crenate; stamens, four, two long and two short, but nearly equal in length, straight, and distant from each other; the seeds are brown, turning dark as they grow older. It is a perennial plant, but chiefly grown from seed; but, if cut down and still allowed to grow will become into a bush or shrub, and eventually produce what is known as Yellow Hyssop. The plant is very much branched. It is a native of the South of Europe, and belongs to the Natural Order in classification of Labiacea, and in the Linnean system to Class 14, called Didynamia, Order First Gymaspermia (naked seed). The therapeutic principles of Hyssop are four in number, viz., resin, resinoid, oleoresin, and alkaloid. The properties are diuretic, stimulant, aromatic, anthelmintic, carminative, diaphoretic, febrifuge, aperient, chologogue, and pectoral. It is employed in coughs, colds, bronchitis, hoarseness, pulmonary catarrh, sore throat, and other affections of the lungs, consumption, torpid liver, constipated bowels in children, all affections of the kidneys and bladder, and fevers of every kind. Hyssop has an agreeable and aromatic odour, and a warm, pungent, and bitter taste. It contains a yellow essential oil, some bitter principles, and sulphur. The remedial principles are soluble in water and alcohol; the manner of its employment is by infusion and decoction. In Hyssop, when employed for the cure of continued or slow fever, we have one of the finest remedies that we can ever use, especially when children are the sufferers. You will not find its equal when made into an infusion with 1 oz. of Hyssop to 1 pint of boiling water, stewed for 15 minutes, and 1 wineglassful being taken every hour during the day. It will be found to have permeated the system, and its stimulating properties to have relieved the dryness of the mucous surfaces lining the stomach and bowels. It will cause diaphoresis or moisture of the skin to appear on the whole surface of the body, and will relieve the kidneys and bladder by means of its diuretic properties, and owing to its mild, aperient action the bowels also will be relieved. Continue the treatment for a few days or a week and the patient will be convalescent. All that is needed besides giving the Hyssop tea is to keep the patient warm and out of cold draughts, and to sponge the body down every day with vinegar and warm water; then wipe the body dry, and at the end of a week you will be surprised at what has been done through the instrumentality of a simple herb made into a tea or decoction. Scarlet fever, measles, typhoid fever, spotted fever, and inflammation of the bowels in children may be treated in the same manner as above stated. I remember in the year 1868 fever was extensively prevalent in Bolton, and I had a sister who at that time was attacked with continued or slow fever, which is supposed to last any length of time from three or four to eighteen or twenty weeks. My father and mother were on the point of calling in a doctor, but I persuaded them not to do so, although my sister was in a very dangerous condition. I prevailed on them to give her plenty of Hyssop tea and sponge her body down with vinegar and hot water every day, and keep a good fire in the room. Plenty of Hyssop tea was given to her and her body well sponged; in a fortnight's time she was entirely cured, and has not ailed anything since, and is living today in 1918. In case of a cough, bronchitis, and asthma, Hyssop made into a syrup with sugar, honey, or black treacle, will be found highly beneficial, as it relieves the dryness of the mucous membranes of the bronchial tubes, and so allays the inflammation and removes the obstructing phlegm, preventing plasticity of the blood, and thereby saving congestion of the lungs and heart. In case of pneumonia affecting any organ the same may be said of it. Its action in pneumonia is most beneficial owing to its diaphoretic property. In case of sore throat it may be used in the same manner as stated for coughs, and the throat gargled with the infusion or tea three or four times a day. It will be found not only to be relieved but cured in a few days. In consumption the same beneficial results will take place, especially in consumption of the bowels. If given in cases of torpid liver, constipation of the bowels, and affections of the kidneys and bladder, it will be found most effectual; it is in these cases that its diaphoretic, stimulant, aromatic, carminative, diuretic, chologogue, and aperient properties are brought into action, giving relief and toning up those organs, when they become affected. In all cases of infantile paralysis, which is generally caused through worms, Hyssop tea given three or four times a day before meals will be found most helpful. For it is in such cases that the anthelmintic properties come into use by not only relieving but eventually curings the complaint; its action on the stomach by means of its bitter, aromatic, odorous principle gives tone to the muscular parts of that organ, stimulating the gastric vessels and glands to better action, and thereby causing better absorption of the fluids taken into the stomach. By that means it produces the better digestion and assimilation of food, and at the same time removes the foetid or bad-smelling breath. One very noticeable feature about the use of Hyssop which should never be forgotten is that it never deranges the functions of digestion. In the article on "Scarlet Fever" and the paragraph dealing with that complaint in children the following is given:—"Hyssop and Third Preparation of Lobelia will not only be found to relieve the lungs and prevent pneumonia or inflammation, but will also keep them in good order. It also prevents swelling of the throat and glands of the neck, and keeps the stomach in good condition, causing a regular evacuation of the bowels. In addition it keeps the kidneys and bladder in good condition, so that the water can be voided through its natural channels, and so prevent inflammation or Bright's disease."

Common Plants and their Uses in Medicine was written by Richard Lawrence Hool, F.N.A.M.H., in 1922.