Anise hyssop is a versatile plant that promotes a healthy ecosystem outside as well as within our bodies. In order to discern between these similar sounding and tasting yet very different plants, a little clarification is due. Hyssop is an herb. Anise is also known as “hummingbird mint” from the Agastache genus. Each is separate plants from the Anise Hyssop or Agastache foeniculum species. Both are in the Lamiaceae family of mints, but Anise hyssop is not a mint like hyssop. Originating in the Mediterranean extending into Asia, this small shrub-like plant propagates well, expanding in both height and width. Anise hyssop is related to tasty fennel. The soft fragrance of the lavender colored flowers attracts bee and butterfly pollinators. Anise hyssop is easy to cultivate growing quickly from seed. This hardy perennial grows best in well-drained soil and direct sunlight. None of the aforementioned plants is to be confused with yet another familiar anise plant popular in cultural culinary dishes commonly known as “star anise”, or “Chinese star anise” and simply “aniseed”; scientific name Illicium verum. This spice resembles an anise flavor but is in fact, a fruit. Ancient civilizations worldwide recognize the similar medicinal properties both plants share.
Anise hyssop has been used for medicinal purposes for thousands of years in a variety of forms. It is often infused into a tea, or tisane offering multiple health benefits. It is proven to protect blood cells from oxidative stress & stimulate the immune system to combat respiratory related ills as both a catarrh and expectorant. Due to its flavor, the primary benefit from Anise hyssop also treats the digestive tract as a stomachic. It has antispasmodic properties relieving symptoms from colic as a carminative.
“Limonene, one of the main components of anise hyssop essential oil, neutralizes stomach acid and promotes healthy muscular function of the digestive tract, making it potentially useful for relieving symptoms of heartburn and gastroesophageal reflux disease, or GERD, according to a study in published in the September 2007 issue of the "Alternative Medicine Review."
Few known side effects have been reported in small doses, particularly when consumed as a steeped infusion. As with any herbal remedy, it is best to consult with a knowledgeable professional. As a solar infusion, anise hyssop is a sweet and delightful addition to other floral infused combinations, making it an ideal refreshment during the summer.