Saturday, July 11, 2009
For years, all I knew of hyssop was the Bible scripture which states, "Purge me with hyssop and I shall be clean". I figured it must good a good plant for something!
However, in my time out in this sacred canyon (to me-this is where I most often hang which is why I never allude to where it is), I have found an abundance of healing and edible plants which I keep to myself, partially in greed I suppose because I love this forest place and all the bounty within. I talk to the plants and touch them. It is a place of solitude and spiritual connection for me.
Each time I go there, something changes. Like life itself...here in this secret place is where I work through my issues and harvest the best!
As soon as snow melted enough to get out into the higher elevations, I began my journey in this precious place, I noticed a type of mint growing in the midst of chokecherry, valerian, and cranesbill.
The taste of its leaves was not pleasant to my palate, so I was not sure exactly what mint this was.
However, one it began to flower, there was no doubt, I was seeing hyssop, also called horsemint here. However, monarda fistulosa is also called horsemint here, so that is why botanical names are important.
I wrote to you about the Wood betony here last week, however this wood betony is not even in the same family as the Stachys species, the one used most medicinally, but the wood betony here is a figwort family, in particular a lousewort.
This hyssop species I am referring to today is Agastache urticifolia
I would pick the flower tops and eat them, noting that shortly after swallowing, an energy would radiate through the core of my lower respiratory system.
AHA! This is such an ally for people, simply because the bitter cold of mountain winters can easily irritate the respiratory system. However, as we well know, this type of situation happens in all climates and with all people, so I wanted to share with you today a little about this plant.
Hyssop has notable anti viral properties, as a matter of fact, in 3 different herbals, this testing has been noted for this.
I can see that it may be good to add into formulas for those I work with that have the herpes virus and HPV.
Externally and internally the anti viral activity has been reported.
This is exciting, especially when things like St Johns Wort may not be located.
The camphoric qualities of hyssop also open up the sinuses in a gentle way. Like I described before, it radiates from the core of the respiratory system, and moves upward.
What a great plant to use for colds, coughs, sore throat, and lung congestion. Along with its anti viral properties, having hyssop tea in the winter is a wise choice.
Since discovering this magical healer, I have been drying flowering tops as I run into them and can harvest.
Something strong to consider if you go out to harvest your own, is that sometimes the flowers get boggy, as if they hold moisture. Possibly this action happens within the body itself to heal wet condtions of excess mucus.
However, upon chewing the fresh flowers of a boggy plant, I notice that the radiating energy is lessened.
So I suggest looking for hyssop in a dry and sunny location. If the plant grows by a river or stream, you may want to eat a flower first to ensure it has not absorbed moisture from the waters. If it has, I suppose it still could be harvested, if that is all you can find, but just remember its action may not be as strong.
I always leave plenty of good flowering tops in each stand when I harvest so the bees will be happy and nature still has access to the plants as well.
I have been drying most of my flowering tops and storing them for tea.
However, my oldest daughter, Robyn, was just here, so we did some wild plant harvesting for her home medicine pantry.
Hyssop was surely on the list, so for her we made hyssop honey which is as simple as this.
Lay out the flowers overnight so bugs will leave, then put into a mason jar and fully cover the flower heads with honey.
This can be used in the winter for sore throats, lung congestion, and to add to tea for a sweetener.
Then we made Hyssop Syrup.
I am not a huge measuring type of gal, so I hope this will be appropriate enough for you to make yourself.
I filled a quart mason jar with flowering tops and poured water over the top and allowed to sit overnight.
The next morning I poured the entire contents of the jar into a pot and on very low heat, simmered down until it was half the volume.
At this point I strained the flower heads out, and measured the volume of the strong tea.
For every cup of tea, I added 3 cups of local honey, stirring on very low heat to incorporate the honey into the tea.
This was put into containers and cooled. I float a wee bit of brandy on top, and once completely cooled, I put the lid on and shake well, label and put in my refrigerator, although this may not be neccessary until it is opened the first time.
Honey has great keeping qualities.
This syrup can be taken during bouts of cold, cough and flu, or for digestive upset, since it is a mint family, they tend to aid our digestive woes.
Hyssop is also noted on strengthening the nerves and evening out emotional imbalance.