Hyssop, "The Holy Herb", was used to cleanse and purify humans, both internally and externally. It was also sed to wash and polish sacred places. In the Holy Bible, powerful leaders such as David, Moses, Solomon and Jesus all used hyssop.
Psalm 51:7 Cleanse me with hyssop, and I will be clean; wash me, and I will be whiter than snow.
John 19:29-30 A jar of wine vinegar was there, so they soaked a sponge in it, put the sponge on a stalk of the hyssop plant, and lifted it to Jesus' lips. 30) When he had received the drink, Jesus said, "It is finished." With that, he bowed his head and gave up his spirit.
Hippocratic (460-377 B.C.), the father of medical science, used hyssop for treating pleurisy. Hippocratic insisted that "Nature heals; the physician is only nature's assistant." He applied this rule by treating his patients with proper diet, herbs, fresh air, change of climate, and attention to habits and living conditions. He objected to the use of strong drugs without careful testing of their curative values.
The Greeks adopted hyssop, and the physician Dioscorides prescribed the herb in tea for cough, wheezing and shortness of breath, in plasters and chest rubs, and as an aromatic nasal and chest contestant. Dioscorides, a leading physician in NERCO's army, gathered herbal knowledge and compiled it into a textbook used by the civilized world for 13 centuries afterwards. Dioscorides is considered one of the greatest herbalists in History.
For at least 2,000 years now people have bathed with and consumed hyssop for relief of arthritis and rheumatism. The Epistle of Barnabas spoke of it for relief of pain. Traditionally, Tibetan priests offered hyssop to their deities during sacred and secret services. Persians used a concoction of hyssop as a body lotion to give a fine color to the skin. Indians used it to reduce body tissue fluids, to alleviate bruises, and for soothing cuts and wounds.
Theophrastus (379 to 287 B.C.), scientist philosopher of Ancient Greece who was a student of both Plato and Aristotle, also extolled the virtues of hyssop. He later followed Aristotle as head of the Lyceum.
Plink the elder (A.D. 23-79), Roman naturalist, remarked on hyssop's on ones mind and sense of taste. Plink was an expert on natural history (the student of plant and animal life) and gave us much information on ancient life. One of his closest friends was the Roman emperor Vespasian who appears with Pliny in ancient engraving. The drawing depicts the two men discussing hyssop, with Pliny surrounded by bunches of the herb as he waves a stalk in the air and points to the emperor.
The German abess/herbalist Hildegard of Bingen wrote that hyssop "cleanses the lungs". She also recommended chicken cooked in hyssop and wine as a treatment for sadness (our modern-day depression).
In 17th-century Europe, hyssop was a popular air freshener or "stewing herb". It was used in the same manner as we use a potpourri of dried leaves or flowers today. Crushed leaves and flowers of the hyssop plant were scattered around the home, especially in the kitchen and sickrooms, to mask odors at a time when people rarely bathed and farm animals often shared human living quarters. When bathing finally became popular and "stewing" ceased, hyssop was placed in scent baskets in sickrooms, a practice who should be well revived today due to hyssop's healing properties.
Seventeenth-century English herbalist Nicholas Culpepper echoed Dioscorides' endorsement for hyssop chest ailments: "It expelleth tough phlegm and its effectual for all grief's of the chest and lungs. "He also noted: "It killeth worms in the belly. He also recommended it as an "inflammation wash" to take away black and blue marks, and relieve swelling in the throat by gargling with it, and praised its use in problems of the ears.
The hyssop plant became as revered by the ancients as was the cat to Egyptians and the cow in India. If it purged the body of ills and demons, they reasoned, then surely it would cleanse the home, the temples and other community buildings as well; it was used much as our modern-day detergents. Its use in Palestine for bites and stings of venomous beast was quite common.
Jewish priests used the strong-smelling hyssop 2,500 years ago to clean the temples in Jerusalem and other places of worship. When celebrating a number of cleansing rites, the ancient Israelites used in hyssop for sprinkling. In fact, two passages are recorded in the Jewish religious texts that advise all good Jews to use the right variety of hyssop. Hyssop was also used for the ritual cleansing of lepers. To this day, the Roman Catholic church still refers to the hyssop holy water sprinkler.
Other folklore contends that hyssop's chief medicinal value lies is its use as a stimulant to the brain. After eating it, student will find they have a clearer head and can study better. This folklore goes on to say that hyssop rubbed on the forehead or round about the ears clears the memory. These potent bits and pieces of herbal knowledge have been handed down to us for ages by our ancient leaders who strove not only to keep the human race going, but to advance it.
In my thoughts, I often wonder how much knowledge of hyssop's mystical powers was lost to us, when the greatest ancient library, the Alexandrian in Egypt, was burned to the ground by Julius Caesar's army in 47 B.C. Yet so powerful is hyssop's force that it seeks to be reborn in our consciousness now to help lead us into a healthier 21st century.