Health Benefits and Uses of Anise Hyssop

Health & Wellness

Anise Hyssop (Agastache foeniculum) || Health Benefits of Anise Hyssop

The common names are referring to fragrant and anise because the leaves have a fragrant Anise odor when crushed, green or dry. The genus Agastache is derived from two Greek words "agan", meaning "very much" and "stachys" meaning "an ear of wheat" which together refer to the flower spikes of this genus having many flowers, like grains of wheat. The species foeniculum, is from the Latin word for Fennel, used here to represent a plant that produces a fragrant scent. Though both are in the Mint, or Lamiaceae family, don’t confuse Anise Hyssop with Hyssop (Hyssopus officinalis), another medicinal herb with different actions and indications. The name ‘hyssop’ comes from the Old English ysope, deriving from the Latin hysopus, and most likely the Greek hyssopos. The word describes any of several aromatic herbs used both medicinally and in ceremonial purification rites.

Anise Hyssop, is an upright, clump-forming perennial of the mint family that is native to parts of the upper Midwest and Great Plains (Wisconsin to Ontario west to British Columbia and south to Colorado). It is typically found in prairies, dry upland forested areas, plains and fields. It grows to 2-4 inch tall. It is noted for its mid- to late summer bloom of lavender to purple flowers in terminal spikes and its anise-scented foliage. Square stems are clad with ovate to broad-lanceolate dull green leaves with toothed margins. Flowers appear in many-flowered verticillasters which are densely packed into showy, cylindrical, terminal flower spikes. Gaps sometimes appear along the flower spike. Individual, tiny, tubular, two-lipped flowers have no fragrance.

The plant is one of the nicer wild foods and is often harvested from the wild for local use, both as a food and medicine. Flowers are attractive to bees (good nectar plant), hummingbirds and butterflies. It is tolerant of deer and drought, and also attracts hummingbirds, butterflies, bumblebees, honey bees, carpenter bees, and night flying moths. Aromatic leaves can be used to make herbal teas, jellies, alcohol or honey. Seeds can be added to cookies or muffins. Dried leaves can be added to potpourris.

A one-of-a-kind compendium on all aspects of this deservedly honoured 2019 Herb of the Year. Written by herbal experts and compiled by the International Herb Association, it features articles on everything on the botany, cultivation, science and uses, as well as recipes for the kitchen, apothecary and bath.

Anise Hyssop is bitter, pungent, and dry energetically and slightly warming in temperature. It is antibacterial, anti-inflammatory, carminative, and expectorant, as well as soothing and coughs suppressing. Like other herbs, Anise Hyssop has abundant nutritional value. Several recent studies show that its essential oil contains antibacterial, anti-inflammatory, and antiviral properties. Its essential oil also has limonene, which plays a vital role in promoting a healthy digestive tract and neutralizing stomach acid. This herb possesses a wide range of medicinal benefits, including healing burn, relieving stress and congestion, pains from excessive coughing and curing summer colds and diarrhea. Due to its superb medicinal uses, it is planted in all places in the U.S. Apart from the medical aspect, Anise Hyssop’s flower also has an attractive appearance which can lighten up your day.

Respiratory Health:

Its main medicinal indication is as a respiratory remedy for coughs, colds, sore throat, and flu. Anise Hyssop has expectorant action, so it’s helpful in relieving congestion and clearing the sinuses of mucus. It also has throat soothing, cough suppressant properties and is reported to ease the pain associated with wracking cough and chest colds. Ingested as a hot tea, it will act as a diaphoretic, reducing fever. Tea made from both the leaves and flowers will contain methyl eugenol, an essential oil that has mild sedative action, which encourages overall relaxation of the airways and body.

Improves Digestive Health:

Like most aromatic herbs in the Mint family, Anise Hyssop has carminative properties, meaning it reduces or prevents excess gas in the intestines. Rich in volatile oils, it works by gently irritating the gastric mucosa which increases peristalsis and regulates gut contractions. This settles the gut by relieving cramping and aiding in the expulsion of gas. Anise Hyssop’s bitter properties help to relax the smooth muscles of the intestines and increase bile production, which helps to break down fats and tough-to-digest foods. Traditionally, it was used to treat diarrhea, especially that caused by bacteria or virus.

Kills Bacterial Infections:

Anise Hyssop is antibacterial, antiviral, and anti-fungal due to its high concentration of essential oils. This herb will reduce bacterial and viral load in cases of illness, and will be effective topically for skin and wound healing. It can also be used in cases of fungal infections, both topically and internally.

Antioxidant:

Anise Hyssop is a widely used medicinal herb with known antioxidant properties. We studied how dietary supplementation with dried Anise Hyssop leaf powder affected physiological and metabolic traits as well as activities of antioxidant enzymes and markers of oxidative stress in Drosophila melanogaster. Dietary Hyssop extended the lifespan in a sex and genotype independent manner over a broad range of concentrations up to 30 mg/ml. Dietary supplementation with the herb significantly increased fecundity, resistance to oxidative stress and starvation. Higher transcript levels of Drosophila insulin-like peptide (dilp2) and decreased dilp3 and dilp6 transcripts together with increased levels of glycogen and triacylglycerols support an alteration of insulin signaling by the plant extract. Increased enzymatic activities of superoxide dismutase and aconitase as well as elevated protein and low molecular mass thiols also supported an alteration of free radical process in flies treated with dietary Agastache foeniculum leaf powder. Thus, physiological and metabolic traits as well as free radical processed may be affected by active compounds detected in extracts of anise hyssop leaves and contribute to the increased lifespan and reproductive (egg-laying) activity observed.

Studies have investigated the antimicrobial and antioxidant activity of Anise Hyssop essential oil (Ivanov et al., 2019), as well as antimutagenic, anti-nociceptive, anti-inflammatory and cytotoxic activity with cancer cell lines (Zielińska and Matkowski, 2014).

In a 2013 study published by Marcel et al. Anise Hyssop, has been given much attention in particular for its high antioxidant activity and is often used for the production of essential oils. Traditional medicine applies Agastache foeniculum for acute respiratory diseases, functional disorders of the gastrointestinal tract, and inflammatory diseases of the urinary system.

Reduces Inflammation:

Its anti-inflammatory properties make it beneficial for treating burns, rashes, and poison ivy. Anise Hyssop makes a great wash for irritating plant oils, reducing rash occurrence and the itching associated with poison Ivy and poison Oak. Additionally, it may be used for cold sores and for herpes simplex due to its antiviral action.

Boosts Immune System:

Anti-Aging:

Aging is a normal physiological process that is regulated by a set of genes and signaling pathways that are evolutionarily conserved in eukaryotes. Recent research has concentrated on the influence of different naturally occurring compounds on the lifespan of model organisms.

Anti-aging pharmacology is an extremely promising field as it could allow humans to substantially increase lifespan and healthspan (Vaiserman and Lushchak, 2017, Piskovatska et al. 2019).

Pathways controlling lifespan and aging are partially conserved in a wide range of species, from yeast to humans (Bitto et al., 2015; Fontana and Partridge, 2015).

Attract Birds, Butterflies and Bees

Blooming Anise Hyssop is a great treasure for a bunch of birds and pollinating creatures, especially honeybees. Interestingly, its flower has no scent. Pollinated flowers generate oval-shaped and smooth seeds and fruit, which is technically nutlets. Anise Hyssop Flowers are shaped in a way, which provide the best landing platform for visiting insects and forces them to touch anthers and stigmas, in their attempt to get food from the this plant. Anise Hyssop is cross pollinated Plant that relays on bees, beetles, butterflies, birds & moths for reproduction and that’s the reason it has made its appearance worth attracting for these, day and night visitors, to carry on its multiplication.

Anise Hyssop produces around 90000 blue-lavender flowers on a single spike which attracts pollinators to visit pollen and nectar, flowers scent also plays vital role in attracting some bees and beetles. Anise Hyssop contains, another important chemical (Methyle eugenol) which possesses antibacterial and antifungal properties and is biggest attraction for the bees to visit them. Methyle eugenol acts as active chemical defense against pathogens and deters the behavior of the insects, visiting any plant. Bees move on to different parts of the plant or plants of the same family due the presence of a typical scent on these plants. A bee, ultimately visits several plants to suck nectars, collecting pollen from one plant, leaving them on to the stigma of another plant to continue the process of cross pollination. Moths appear during the night due to presence of the same scent, and help in performing the function of cross-pollination.

Humming birds always dominate on Hyssop anise due the florescence color and arrangement of grains which become easy for them to crawl from one spike to another to feed on and keep on pollinating other neighboring plants.

Anise Hyssop for Honey Production

The high value Anise Hyssop provides to bees had led many bee keepers to grow and cultivate Anise Hyssop for honey production. The abundant flowers and nectar they provide make them very attractive to apiarists, and their honey bees.

Traditional Uses of Anise Hyssop:

  • The herb is used for cardiac, pectoral and diaphoretic complaints, as poultice and for treating herpes simplex.
  • Used by Indians to cure wounds. Can use as a salve. 
  • It's a aromatic digestant, therefore preventing gas, bloating. Simply sip some tea with you meals to prevent gas and bloating.  
  • An infusion of the leaves is used in the treatment of colds, fevers, chest pains and weak heart.
  • Poultice of leaves and stems can be used to treat burns.
  • When left to go cold, the infusion is used to treat pains in the chest (such as when the lungs are sore from too much coughing).
  • Anise Hyssop was used medicinally by Native Americans for cough, fevers, wounds, and diarrhea.
  • Anise Hyssop has long been used in traditional herbal medicine, especially amongst Native Americans.
  • Infused in tea, anise hyssop can be used to relieve congestion, acting as an expectorant (clearing mucus from lungs and airways).
  • Cold-infusion can be used to relieve chest pains caused by excessive coughing, and mixed with licorice; it can be used to treat respiratory infections and bronchitis.
  • Hot infusion induces sweating, and can therefore be used to help with fevers.
  • The Cheyenne use anise hyssop in sweat lodges.
  • It is used as a poultice, anise hyssop is said to help treat burns, and, made into a salve, can be used to treat wounds.
  • The Iroquois were said to make a wash from it used to relieve the itching associated with poison ivy.
  • It is used as an infusion in tea and cold remedies will relieve congestion.
  • It is also used to strengthen a weak heart.
  • Essential oils of Anise Hyssop are antiviral toward Herpes simplex I and II.
  • Poultice is also useful in treating burns.
  • Hot infusion will induce perspiration and is thus useful in treating fevers.
  • Indians used the leaves in incense to treat depression as it provided an uplifting fragrance.
  • Cold infusion of leaves is used to relieve pains in the chest from excessive coughing.
  • It is used as a preventative for summer colds.
  • It is used by Indians to cure wounds and use as a salve.
  • Traditionally used to treat burns with a poultice of leaves.
  • It is often combined with licorice for lung conditions such as respiratory infections and bronchitis.
  • Simply sip some tea with you meals to prevent gas and bloating.
  • Being aromatic, the oils in the plant are useful in opening up the airways.
  • Its leaves and flowers are highly beneficial in treating fevers, diarrhea, coughs, and wounds.
  • Tea made from Anise-Hyssop leaves is believed to relieve coughs, clear congestion, ease digestive upset, and promote restful sleep.
  • The Cheyenne drank a tea of this herb to relieve a dispirited heart.
  • Leaves are used topically as a compress for angina, burns, fever, headache, heatstroke, and herpes.
  • Plant is excellent in baths and foot-baths for simply cooling off or for treating sunburn and fungal conditions such as athlete’s foot and yeast overgrowth.
  • Indigenous tribes used a poultice of the leaves to treat burns and rashes.
  • An infusion of Anise Hyssop and Elk Mint is a traditional remedy for colds and chest pain used by the Chippewa tribe.
  • The Cheyenne used anise hyssop tea to relieve depression.
  • The Haudenosaunee reportedly used anise hyssop to make a wash to treat poison ivy.
  • The Cree people of Saskatchewan steeped Anise hyssop leaves in hot water to make a comforting tea to reduce congestion.
  • The Cheyenne used Anise Hyssop leaves to treat coughs and colds.
  • Leaves were also used in a steam bath to induce sweating and to treat fevers.
  • An infusion of the leaves is used in the treatment of weak heart.
  • As an infusion in tea and cold remedies. It relieves congestion and has antibacterial and anti-inflammatory properties.
  • When left to go cold, the infusion is used to treat pains in the chest (such as when the lungs are sore from too much coughing).
  • A poultice of leaves and stems can be used to treat burns.
  • Clinical research has shown that the essential oils of Anise Hyssop is antiviral toward Herpes simplex I and II.
  • Take a bath in the leaves for treating sunburn or for fungal conditions such as athletes foot or yeast overgrowth.

Culinary Uses of Anise Hyssop:

  • In Northern America, anise hyssop is cultivated as honey plant by beekeepers and in house gardens for tea and as culinary seasoning, in the same way used already earlier by the Indian tribes.
  • It has also been experimentally grown as essential oil plant in the former Soviet Union and in Southern Finland, here also in house gardens as tea and spice plant for cakes and sweets.
  • Leaves, seeds and flowers have a sweet anise flavor and are eaten raw or cooked.
  • They are used as a flavoring in raw or cooked dishes and present a delicious addition to the salad bowl.
  • They are used as a flavouring in raw or cooked dishes.
  • Seeds are used in cookies, cakes and muffins.
  • Can also be used to flavour cooked foods, especially acid fruits.
  • A pleasant tasting tea is made from the leaves.
  • Leaves and flowers can be consumed raw or cooked.
  • They are used as a flavoring in raw or cooked dishes.
  • They have a sweet aniseed flavor and are one of our favorite flavorings in salads.
  • They make a delicious addition to the salad bowl and can also be used to flavor cooked foods, especially acid fruits.
  • The foliage has an anise fragrant and is used as flavoring in salads and teas.
  • The soft, anise-scented leaves are used as a seasoning, as a tea, in potpourri, and can be crumbled in salad.
  • The dried leaves can be used in potpourri.
  • Leaves can also be used as a substitute for French tarragon or mint, or they can be mixed into pasta, tossed into green salads, floated on soups, or stirred into fruit bowls for added flavor.
  • A pleasant tasting tea is made from the leaves.
  • The only drawback to the leaves is that they tend to have a drying effect in the mouth and so cannot be eaten in quantity.

Other Uses of Anise Hyssop:

  • Anise hyssop is grown as a culinary herb and ornaments and is also an excellent honey plant.
  • Flowers attract bees, butterflies and hummingbirds.
  • The safety and uses of methyl chavicol, the main constituent in the essential oil of Agastache, in the food industry as well as the herbal, flavoring and medicinal uses of Agastache have been reviewed by Fuentes- Granados et al.
  • One plant may produce upwards of 90,000 individual flowers.
  • The purple flower spike is favored by bees that make a light fragrant honey from the nectar.
  • In the language of flowers and plants anise hyssop represents sacrifice and purification.
  • Attracts wildlife. Invertebrate shelter, nectary. aromatic.
  • Borders, wildflower gardens, herb gardens, butterfly gardens or meadows. Flower spikes are attractive additions to fresh cut or dried arrangements. 

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