Swab: benefits, side effects, dosage and interactions


Hyssopus officinalis is an herb that has been used medicinally for centuries, possibly even in Biblical times (mentioned in the Old Testament). In medicine, the aerial parts of the plant are used, not the roots.

Traditionally, it has been used to treat a wide variety of conditions, but so far we don't have enough evidence that it is safe or effective for any of them.

Traditional uses for hyssop include treating:

  • Digestive aid
  • Liver problems
  • Gallbladder disease
  • Gas
  • Intestinal pain
  • Colic
  • Cough
  • Colds
  • Throat pain
  • Asthma
  • Urinary tract infections
  • Bad circulation
  • Menstrual cramps
  • Induce perspiration (in the bathroom)
  • Topically for burns, bruises and frostbite.

You may have met a hyssop without even knowing it. Although it tastes bitter, it is sometimes used as a flavoring agent in food and the oil is used as a flavoring agent in some makeup and body care products.

Hyssop belongs to the Lamiaceae family, which is also known for thyme, mint, oregano, basil, sage, rosemary, lemon balm, and many other aromatic plants.

Steve Gorton / Getty Images

What is hyssop used for?

While supplements have rarely been extensively researched, we have a growing body of literature on the potential health benefits of hyssop. It's still in its early stages, but much of it is promising, which could give researchers an incentive to study it further.

Kill cancer cells

A 2014 review by researchers Zielinska and Matkowski found evidence that herbs in the Lamiaceae family, including hyssop, can kill cancer cells .

A 2017 study in India suggests that hyssop may be one of the most effective anticancer plants in the family, killing 82 percent of breast cancer cells in laboratory studies. While this is very promising, it needs to be replicated in human studies. before you know if it is a safe and effective treatment.

Treatment of ulcers

Many of the traditional uses of hyssop have been linked to indigestion, and a 2014 study reveals a possible reason for this. Researchers have found that it works against two chemicals in the body that cause ulcers : urease and α-chymotrypsin .

Because of this, they concluded that hyssop could be an effective ulcer treatment. To know for sure, we need human studies.


Another traditional use, asthma , may be supported by medical science. An analysis of numerous Persian medicinal plants in 2017 showed that hyssop and several other plants can reduce inflammation, oxidative stress, allergic reactions, tracheal smooth muscle contraction, and airway remodeling in asthma .

They suggested that more trials be done to see what role these herbs might play in treating asthma.

Slow the aging of the skin

A 2014 study published in the journal Preventive Nutrition and Food Science named hyssop among several plant researchers that the researchers say have two properties that have anti-aging effects on the skin: They are antioxidants and inhibit the accumulation of body fat .

Antioxidants fight the effects of oxygen and environmental toxins, which can not only age the skin, but can also cause numerous diseases. They do this by stabilizing cells called free radicals, which are harmful to our health.

According to the researchers, excessive accumulation of fat can cause unwanted changes in the structure of the skin's tissue, making it appear older.

Antimicrobial and antioxidant activity

A group of researchers from Romania published a 2014 article in the journal Molecules investigating the antioxidant and antimicrobial activity of hyssop .

Their work showed high levels of polyphenols (a type of antioxidant) and good antioxidant activity. In addition to this, vegetable extracts and oils have mild antimicrobial, antifungal, and antiviral properties.

However, these were the results of laboratory tests, not the human body. We will need more research to confirm the potential benefits of hyssop in these and most areas.

An article from the same magazine in 2009 had similar results showing that hyssop essential oil has some antibacterial and antifungal properties. Later work confirmed the theory .

A 2012 study published in the journal Acta Poloniae Pharmaceutica also found nitric oxide scavenging activity, supporting the theory that hyssop is an antioxidant. This claim is supported by a growing body of literature .

Antiviral properties

Few viruses are as well known to the general public or as prevalent as herpes simplex 1 and 2. Hyssop may have any use in preventing the spread of these viruses.

A 2016 review of Iranian herbal medicines for herpes simplex virus (HSV) listed several studies showing that in mice, hyssop extract was able to delay the onset of HSV-1 infection by more than 50 % .

Due to how common herpes infections are and the virus remains in your system all the time, we are likely to see more research in this area.

A 2018 literature review of Lamiaceae plants against the HIV retrovirus showed promising preliminary results. The researchers said the plants appear to target structures that allow the virus to attach itself to cells and thereby infect them. They can also destroy key enzymes on which the life cycle of HIV depends .

The researchers concluded that these plants can help prevent and treat some viral diseases and mentioned several aspects that deserve further study.

Other possible effects

Zielinska's aforementioned review also lists several hyssop effects that are supported by initial research, including :

  • Anti-inflammatory properties
  • Antinociceptive Activity : Nociceptors are specialized sensory cells that detect and respond to stimuli such as pain and heat without having to send signals to the brain first. These cells can become hypersensitive in some chronic pain conditions such as fibromyalgia .
  • Anti-atherogenic properties : This means that it can slow down or prevent the formation of fatty plaques in the arteries, which can lead to hardening of the arteries and heart disease .

Possible side effects.

Even natural treatments can have unwanted side effects, and hyssop is no exception. This plant is believed to be relatively safe in amounts commonly used in foods; however, in high doses it can be dangerous. Some people should avoid the swab altogether.

Possible side effects include:

  • Allergic reactions : Do not use hyssop medicinally if you have ever had an allergic reaction to foods that contain hyssop, the hyssop plant itself, or other plants in the Lamiaceae family (also known as peppermint or hives).
  • Vomiting – Usually only occurs in high doses.
  • Seizures : Hyssop oil is a known anticonvulsant drug and should not be given to children or people with seizure disorders. In healthy adults, hyssop can increase the risk of seizures, especially in high doses.
  • Miscarriage : Do not take this herb during pregnancy. The swab can cause the uterus to contract and cause menstruation, which can lead to miscarriage.

We don't have enough information to know if it is safe to use swab while breastfeeding, so it is best avoided if you are breastfeeding. Children should not use swab at all due to the increased risk of seizures.

Risks and contraindications.

Hyssop can negatively interact with certain medications and supplements. Talk to your doctor and pharmacist before taking hyssop if you are taking any of the following:

  • Anticonvulsants or supplements.
  • Medications or supplements that affect the seizure threshold.
  • Diabetes medication
  • Supplements that alter blood sugar
  • Medications or supplements to lower cholesterol
  • Antiviral drugs
  • Glucocorticoids
  • Immunosuppressants or supplements.

Your pharmacist may know more about these interactions than your healthcare professional, so while you want to make sure you discuss all treatment decisions with your healthcare provider, it is also a good idea to speak with your pharmacist.

Dosage and preparation

A standard safe dose for swab has not been identified. A typical dose is 2 grams of dried herbs, made into tea, up to three times a day.

Some people take 10 to 30 drops of hyssop oil a day, but prolonged use of hyssop oil is not recommended due to the increased risk of seizures.

Get the word of drug information

Only you can decide whether to add swab to your treatment regimen. Be sure to discuss the pros and cons with your healthcare provider, do a lot of research, and consider your complete history and the medications and supplements you are already taking.

Remember that natural does not always mean safe. Follow your doctor's dosage recommendations and watch out for negative side effects or interactions every time you start taking something new.

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