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What You Need to Know About Hyssop Essential Oil

Updated: Nov 12, 2021

Medically reviewed by Debra Rose Wilson, Ph.D., MSN, R.N., IBCLC, AHN-BC, CHT

Written by Kristeen Cherney on August 9, 2019

Essential oils are potent concentrates extracted from plant leaves, bark, and flowers. While each type of essential oil differs in its chemical make-up and use, pure essential oils may be considered just as potent as conventional medicines.

Hyssop oil is just one of many essential oils that’s gaining popularity as a possible alternative to conventional anti-inflammatories and antimicrobials. While classified as “natural,” the oil still poses a risk of side effects, especially when used orally or topically. Learn more about hyssop oil and how to use it safely.

What is hyssop essential oil? Hyssop (Hyssopus officinalis) essential oil is made from the flowers and leaves of the plant bearing the same name. While the plant technically belongs to the mint family, the flowers look similar to lavender. It’s a staple in folk medicine, especially in Middle Eastern and Southern European regions, where the plant originates. Today, hyssop is considered a multipurpose essential oil among alternative practitioners. The oil has a purifying scent that’s a cross between minty and flowery. It’s also considered a body purifier with numerous benefits.

Hysssop oil benefit Hyssop oil is said to have anti-inflammatory, antimicrobial, antioxidant and uplifting benefits. These may be related to its key ingredients, such as:

  • tannins

  • flavonoids

  • bitters

  • volatile oils, such as pinocamphone

Below are some of the most commonly touted benefits of hyssop essential oil. More research is needed to determine whether such benefits have scientific backing, though. Alleviates the common cold In folk medicine, hyssop is often used to alleviate symptoms of the common cold. The essential oil has been reported to reduce sore throat and cough. This is perhaps due to its mint properties. Peppermint, another popular essential oil, is sometimes used to help treat headache and sore throat. Alleviates asthma and respiratory symptoms Aside from treating common cold symptoms, hyssop may be used to alleviate more serious respiratory illnesses, such as asthma, according to some animal studies. However, you should not use hyssop as a treatment for severe wheezing and breathing difficulties without talking to your doctor first. MEDICAL EMERGENCY

If you’re experiencing an asthma attack, use prescribed medicines first and go to an emergency room or urgent care clinic. Anti-inflammatory Inflammation is your body’s response to injury or illness. However, in time, this natural response can lead to long-term illness and complications. In a 2014 study on mice, hyssop exhibited anti-inflammatory activity. More research is needed, however, to confirm hyssop has significant anti-inflammatory properties that could benefit humans. Antioxidant A 2011 chemical analysis of hyssop revealed its promising antioxidant properties. Researchers noted hyssop could have future medicinal use, as antioxidants can fight the free radicals that cause oxidative stress, which is connected to chronic diseases from type 2 diabetes to cancer. More research is needed. Fights infection As a purported antimicrobial, hyssop oil may act as a natural antibiotic to fight certain infections. These may include upper respiratory infection, urinary tract infection, and infections of the skin. A 2008 study explored the possible antiviral benefits of hyssop, such as treating herpes infections. Reduces skin irritation The antimicrobial and anti-inflammatory effects may make hyssop oil a treatment option for mild skin irritation. This includes minor burns, small cuts, and even frostbite. Eczema, psoriasis, and other inflammatory skin conditions could possibly benefit, too. Purifying boost to aromatherapy Essential oils are now used in mainstream aromatherapy for mood-boostingscents you can use at home and at work. Hyssop is prized for its purifying scent that’s a cross between a flowery and bitter aroma. Hyssop oil side effects Hyssop oil has been used for centuries in folk medicine, but this doesn’t mean it can’t cause side effects. When used topically, some may experience symptoms of an allergic reaction, such as:

  • red rash

  • itchy skin

  • hives

  • dryness and peeling

  • swelling

  • sneezing and runny nose

Do not take hyssop oil by mouth. Doing so can increase your risk for the following:

  • nausea

  • diarrhea

  • abdominal pain

  • anxiety

  • tremors

How to use hyssop essential oil From topical applications to aromatherapy, hyssop essential oil is used in a variety of ways. Below are the most common. Topical uses Dilute hyssop oil with a carrier oil, such coconut or olive oil. Then patch test a small area of your skin and wait for 24 hours to see if your skin has a reaction to the oil. If there is no reaction, hyssop may be applied topically a few times per day until you see improvements. Hyssop bath and hyssop soap Hyssop has wide commercial uses, including perfumes and soaps. You can also use hyssop diluted essential oil in running bath water to treat inflammation and enjoy aromatherapy. Avoid slipping in the tub by carefully getting in and out of the bath. Compresses Compresses made with hyssop essential oil can be used for minor skin irritation, bug bites, and muscle or joint pain. To make a compress, simply warm up a wet washcloth and apply a few drops of the diluted essential oil before application. Diffuser or inhalation When using for hyssop oil for aromatherapy, a diffuser can help keep the scent going all day. This small machine uses water and several drops of essential oils to diffuse an aromatic steam into the air. You can also reap the benefits essential oils by inhaling hyssop oil directly out of the bottle — this may be helpful for asthma and other respiratory symptoms. Consider pregnant and breastfeeding women, children, and pets before you diffuse essential oils. Some can be toxic. Precautions Essential oils should never be applied directly to your skin. You will first need to dilute hyssop oil with a carrier oil, such as those made from olive, coconut, or jojoba. Don’t use any essential oils near the eyes. It’s also important that you don’t take this oil by mouth. Essential oils are not meant to be ingested, rather used in aromatherapy. Despite its use as a folk remedy for gastrointestinal upset, it’s possible that hyssop can actually cause gastrointestinal issues. Hyssop oil can also worsen seizure disorders in children. Hyssop oil is not recommended for people with epilepsy. Where to get hyssop essential oil Hyssop essential oil is widely available for purchase from health stores, homeopathy outlets, and natural health centers. Some brands of essential oils also carry hyssop through direct marketing sales. You can also shop for hyssop oil products online. Takeaway Hyssop oil may prove to be a “natural” remedy for a variety of uses, but it’s important to keep in mind that this is a powerful chemical substance that can also pose the risk of side effects. Speak with a doctor before using hyssop oil topically.

Last medically reviewed on August 9, 2019

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