Hyssop (Niu Xi Cao)

Botanical Name: Hyssop officinalis, H. angustifolius

Hyssop’s bitter minty leaves are used in cooking and herbal medicine. This herb is used to soothe sore throats, treat colds and flu, and ease asthma. It has been hung in homes to protect against the evil eye and witches. Hyssop was used for thousands of years by many cultures as a purifier and cleanser. It is a blood-nourishing and immune-enhancing herb.

Watch a short video, from Ann Christensen, Founder and Creator of White Rabbit Institute of Healing™ – About Hyssop Essential Oil.

Below is an overview of hyssop​, combining the best of Western Science, Oriental Medicine, Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM), Shamanism, Folklore, and a wide range of healing modalities. Gain a balanced and thorough understanding of the healing properties of hyssop.

How to take FULL advantage of hyssop's healing powers...

Hyssop (Niu Xi Cao)

JOIN ME in an exploration of the healing herb, Hyssop (Niu Xi Cao)). Explore the benefits and applications of Hyssop, from Eastern and Western perspectives, and so much more!


Western Name: Hyssop​

Also Known As: Anise hyssop, blue giant hyssop, lavender giant hyssop

Organs/Systems: Respiratory, Digestive, Skin

Key Actions: Antispasmodic, Antiseptic, Expectorant, Aphrodisiac, Antioxidant, Vermifuge, Antirheumatic, Stimulant, Diaphoretic, Relaxant,\Antimicrobial, Insecticidal

Medicinal Uses: Coughs, colds, asthma, sore throat, poor appetite, digestive complaints, intestinal pain, colic, urinary tract infections (UTIs), menstrual cramps, poor circulation, intestinal parasites.


Pin Yin: Niu Xi Cao​

Also Known As: N/A

Meridians: Lung, Spleen, Intestines

Key Actions: Tonifies the Lungs, Expels Phlegm, Releases to the Exterior, Tonifies Qi Expels Parasites, Prevents Infection

Medicinal Uses: Coughs, bronchitis, asthma, hay fever, wheezing, intestinal parasites, weak appetite, diarrhea, shortness of breath, exhaustion, chronic fatigue, wounds, cuts, acne, psoriasis.

Basic Habitat / Botany:

Hyssop is a small bushy herbaceous plant in the mint family Lamiaceae. Its square stems bear shiny, dark, lanceolate green leaves and have clusters of purple-blue, pink, or white flowers that bloom starting in midsummer. It can grow to be 2 to 3 feet tall. The stem is woody at the base, from which several straight branches grow.

Hyssop (Hyssop officinalis) is native to southern Europe, the Middle East, and the region surrounding the Caspian Sea and the Black Sea. Anise hyssop (Agastache foeniculum), a different plant from hyssop, is native to the upper Midwest and Great Plains in North America.

Parts Most Frequently Used: Above-ground Parts (especially leaves and flowers), Essential Oil​

Flavors/Temps: Slightly Bitter, Slightly Pungent, Dry, Neutral, Warming

Caution: Considered safe. Only the essential oil is considered toxic if taken internally; it can cause convulsions and is not safe for children to use.

Key Constituents: Leaves and Flowers – Phenol, Cineole, Flavonoids, Apigenin, Myrtenyl acetate, Camphor, Germacrene, Spathulenol, Terpenes, Vitamin C. Essential Oil – Thujone, Pinocamphone.


Hyssop is best known for its ability to treat respiratory ailments, such as colds, flus, bronchitis, sore throats, and asthma.

Hyssop has been used since classical times as a medicine. Used in baths, it can help cause sweating. Externally it is used to treat burns, bruises, and frostbite.

The flavonoids found in hyssop essential oil contain high levels of antioxidants. Research conducted at Cornell/NCI indicates hyssop may have importance in the treatment of HIV/AIDS patients.

The camphor-like compounds found in hyssop help to loosen phlegm, and hyssop’s constituent marrubium is known to be a powerful expectorant. This combination, in addition to the herb’s antiviral and antibacterial properties, makes it excellent for treating respiratory ailments that include congestion as a symptom.

The name hyssop is a direct adaptation of the Greek word hyssopos, meaning ‘holy herb’. It is referenced in the Bible as an herb used for purification; the early Egyptians also used it for religious purification. It was eaten with bread to cleanse the bread. Psalm 51:7 praises this effect of the herb: “Purge me with hyssop, and I will be clean.” The Hebrew name for hyssop also means “holy herb”. The ancients used it to cure head lice.

Hung in homes to protect against the evil eye and witches, hyssop has also been planted on graves as a protection for the dead from the living. Hyssop was used by the Romans to protect against plagues.

Hyssop is a symbol of cleanliness and sacrifice.

Native to southern Europe and Eurasia, hyssop was brought to North America with early European settlers. Over the years it escaped gardens and is now naturalized in waste places along roads throughout North America from Quebec, in Canada, to North Carolina, in the United States.

As it is a favorite of bees, beekeepers would rub the scent of the flower on their hives to attract the pollinators. Hyssop also attracts hummingbirds and butterflies.

Hyssop oil is used as a food and beverage flavoring. It is used also in cosmetics and soaps for its fragrance.

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Did you know?

Stay Awake

European women would reportedly sniff hyssop flowers pressed in their psalm books to help them stay awake during church services.


Shortness of Breath

The ancient Greek physician and pharmacologist Dioscorides recommended a blend of hyssop and rue with some honey to help treat coughs and shortness of breath.

Fun fact!


Hyssop is part of an ancient tradition of purifying and cleansing. It is used as incense to cleanse an environment and taken as a tea to cleanse the blood and body in preparation for sacred ceremonies.

Take FULL advantage of Hyssop (Niu Xi Cao)!

Connecting Eastern and Western perspectives on HOW and WHY this herb works. Find out how to safely and effectively use this healing herb for treating conditions and for your Body, Mind, and Spirit. Find True Health. Explore uses, safety information, benefits, history, recipes, gardening tips, essential oil information, if it applies, and much, much more in this online course.

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ATTENTION: All material provided on this website is for informational or educational purposes only. It is not intended as a substitute for the advice of your healthcare professional or physician. Redistribution permitted with attribution. Be Healthy. Be Happy. Be Whole. Be Free.

ATENCIÓN: Todo el material proporcionado en este sitio web es sólo con fines informativos o educativos. No es sustituto del consejo de su profesional de la salud o médico. Esté sano. Sea feliz. Siéntase completo. Sea libre.

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