African Journal of Pharmacy and Pharmacology Vol. 5(17), pp. 1959-1966, 8 November, 2011
Available online at http://www.academicjournals.org/AJPP
ISSN 1996-0816 © 2011 Academic Journals
A review on Hyssopus officinalis L.: Composition and
Fatemeh Fathiazad* and Sanaz Hamedeyazdan
Department of Pharmacognosy, Faculty of Pharmacy, Tabriz University of Medical Sciences, Iran.
Accepted 5 October, 2011
Hyssopus officinalis L. (Hyssop) is one of the most popular herbal preparations, mainly distributed in
the East Mediterranean to central Asia. The plant has been used traditionally for medicinal purposes;
generally, these therapeutic uses and health benefits of hyssop are largely based on folklore rather
than on scientific substantiation, making it a good candidate to gather documentations, including the
phytochemical content, in vitro experiments, animal models and human studies available in the recent
scientific studies. A literature review on the chemical and biological aspects of the plant indicates that
the main constituents of H. officinalis include several polyphenolic compounds, primarily the
flavonoids apigenin, quercetin, diosmin, luteolin and their glucosides followed by other phenolic
compounds chlorogenic, protocatechuic, ferulic, syringic, p-hydroxybenzoic and caffeic acids. Reports
on the essential oils extracted from aerial parts of H. officinalis revealed several principal components,
including terpenoids pinocamphone, isopinocamphone and β-pinene. Hyssop has moderate antioxidant
and antimicrobial activity against Gram positive and negative bacteria activities together with antifungal
and insecticidal antiviral properties in vitro. Animal model studies indicate myorelaxant, antiplatelet and
α-glucosidase inhibitory activities for this plant. However, human studies, adverse reactions and
clinical trials examining the reported properties of hyssop are absent and needs more attention to
determine whether biological differences in findings of the studies reflect the different isolation
procedures, different types of plant material used, collection time, locations or different chemotypes.
Key words: Hyssopus officinalis L., phenolic compounds, essential oil, extract.
One of the most frequently consumed herbal remedies
available today is the hyssop preparations prepared from
Hyssopus officinalis (L) which is gaining increased
importance as a minty flavor, condiment and spices in
food industries as well (Dragland et al., 2003; Jung et al.,
2004; Lugasi et al., 2006). Not surprisingly, like many
other herbal preparations used in traditional medicinal
cultures, the therapeutic uses and health benefits of
hyssop are largely based on folklore rather than on
scientific substantiation. Regardless of the wide range of
literatures suggesting health benefits of herbal remedies
associated with hyssop, evidence-based information
regarding the effects of hyssop is quite limited.
Developing an efficient herbal remedy is reliant to a
*Corresponding author. E-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org. Tel:
+98 411 6692405. Fax: +98 411 3344798.
better understanding of the relationship between
chemical constituents and biological properties of the
natural product. In view of these aspects, natural
products, particularly higher plant species, continue to be
important sources of medicine and supplementary health
products which represent a challenge to science due to
their various properties, including chemical diversity,
synergism to biological activity and variable
compositions. Herein, we tried to gather detailed
documentations of the available scientific papers related
to the bioactivity and potential health benefits of hyssop
ensuring a high quality herbal medicine to meet the ever
more demands of the public.
The genus Hyssopus comprises aromatic perennial herbs
or subshrubs that are mainly cultivated, but can also be
1960 Afr. J. Pharm. Pharmacol.
found in the wild. The inflorescence is 20 to 25 cm long,
false spikelike, composed of 4 to 10 flowered
pseudoverticils in the terminal. The root of H. officinalis is
a strongly branching, multi-headed tap root. The stems
are 0.5 to 0.7 m in height, erect or decumbent dividing
into many woody stems. The leaves are opposite, shiny
dark-green, entire-edged and lanceolate or oblong,
obtuse to acuminate that are 2 to 4 cm long and 0.5 to 1
cm wide. Hyssopus L. comprises of about 10 to 12
species distributed mainly in the East Mediterranean to
central Asia. H. officinalis L. (Family: Lamiaceae alt.
Labiatae) has a long history of medicinal use as
carminative, tonic, antiseptic, expectorant and cough
reliever. Despite having a slightly bitter taste, H. officinalis
is often used as a minty flavor and condiment in food
industries. The merit of the traditional use of H. officinalis
has been supported by some prior studies from the
genus Hyssopus, providing several biologically active
constituents especially main compounds from essential
oils. Although, a great body of papers refers to the
composition of H. officinalis oil, far too little attention has
been paid to the chemical constituent structures present
in the plant. Herein, we offer documentations including
the phytochemical content, in vitro experiments, animal
models and human studies available in the recent
The phytochemical study of the aerial parts of H.
officinalis cultivated in Xinjiang, China, revealed isolation
of two new flavonoid glycosides and nine other known
flavonoids from the ethanolic extract of the plant. The
new compounds were identified as; quercetin 7-O-b-D-
apiofuranosyl-(1→2)-b-dxylopyranoside (1) and quercetin
b-D-glucopyranoside (2), together with nine known
flavonoids apigenin (3), apigenin 7-O-b-D-
glucopyranoside (4), apigenin 7-O-b-D-
glucuronopyranoside methyl ester (5), luteolin (6),
apigenin 7-O-b-D-glucuronide (7), apigenin 7-O-b-D-
glucuronopyranoside butyl ester (8), luteolin 7-O-b-D-
glucopyranosid (9), diosmin (10) and acacetin 7-O-a-L-
rhamnopyranosyl-(1→6)-b-D-glucopyranoside (11). The
free radical scavenging activity of the compounds 1 to 11
was also determined using 2,2-diphenyl-1-picrylhydrazyl
(DPPH). The isolated compounds were found to possess
noble radical scavenging activity. Out of the isolated
compounds, 1, 2, 6 and 9 with IC50 values in the range
of 2.81 to 10.41 mmol/L exhibited stronger scavenging
activity on DPPH assay than butylated hydroxytoluene
and L-ascorbic acid as standards (Wang and Yang,
Mario et al. (1997) revealed the presence of the most
widespread class of secondary metabolites, flavonoids, in
H. officinalis L. using high-performance liquid
chromatography and magnetic-resonance imaging (NMR)
spectroscopy. The major flavone, diosmin, was present in
the plant with 51 and 40.5% in sepals and leaves,
respectively that were identified as the total content of
diosmin in whole plant. Nonetheless, there were changes
in diosmin levels during the development of hyssop
leaves, stems and roots. The other identified compound
in the plant was considered to be isoferulyl D-glucose
ester (Marin et al., 1998). Previously, Hilal et al. (1979)
reported isolation of seven glycosides of flavanone type
from H. officinalis where the aglycon of the glycosides
were determined as 5,4'-dihydroxy-7,3'-dimethoxy
The content of free phenolic acids (PhAs) for ten
popular medicinal plants used in Polish phytotherapy
including H. officinalis belonging to the family Lamiaceae
were determined by a rapid, selective and accurate
extraction method combining solid-phase extraction and
high-performance liquid chromatography. Considering the
findings of the study, methanolic extract of the H.
officinalis was shown to be rich in phenolic compounds,
especially high in chlorogenic, protocatechuic, ferulic,
syringic, p-hydroxybenzoic and caffeic acids followed by
vanillic, p-coumaric, rosmarinic and gentisic acids
(Murakami et al., 1998; Varga et al., 1998a; Kochan et
al., 1999; Zgorka and Głowniak, 2001). Elsewhere, the
presence of caffeic acid and its derivatives in the roots of
H. officinalis L. cultivated in Romania with a content of
1.69% was reported. Additionally, rosmarinic acid, ferulic
acid and phenylpropanic compounds were also identified
in the plant by chromatography and spectrophotometric
analyses (Benedec et al., 2002). Later, Proestos et al.
(2005) employed reversed phase high-performance liquid
chromatography with UV detection for the identification
and quantification of the phenolic compounds for some
plant extracts including H. officinalis. The most abundant
phenolic acids in H. officinalis were considered to be
ferulic acid (13.2 mg/100 g of dry sample) and caffeic
acid (6.5 mg/100 g of dry sample). Moreover, syringic,
gentisic and p-hydroxybenzoic acids along with two
flavonoids (+)-catechin and apigenin were also detected
in the genus H. officinalis (Proestos et al., 2005).
Garg et al. (1999) reported on the characteristics of the
oil of H. officinalis L. ssp. officinalis cultivated in the North
Indian plains as an annual crop. The GC and GC-MS
analysis of the colourless essential oil led to the
identification of 21 compounds representing 95.6% of the
oil, comprising seven monoterpene hydrocarbons
(32.3%), five oxygenated monoterpenes (60.5%), one
phenol (0.2%) and six sesquiterpene hydrocarbons
(0.35%). The major constituents of the camphorous
predominant monoterpenes of the oil were
pinocamphone (49.1%) >β-pinene (18.4%)
>isopinocamphone (9.7%) (Shah et al., 1986; Garg et al.,
1999). Myrtenol methyl ether, myrtenic acid, methyl
myrtenate, pinic acid, cis-pinic acid, (+)-2-
hydroxyisopinocamphone, pinonic acid and cis-pinonic
acid were identified for the first time in H. officinalis oil by
Joulain (Joulain, 1976; Joulain and Ragault, 1976). The
analysis of the composition of two essential oils from H.
officinalis L. ssp. officinalis grown in two different
localities near Urbino (Marche, Italy) revealed major
essential oil components as pinocamphone (34 and
18.5%), isopinocamphone (3.2 and 29%) and β-pinene
(10.5 and 10.8%). However, they showed detectable
differences in the ratio of
pinocamphone/isopinocamphone and in the percentage
of linalool (0.2 and 7.9%) and camphor (0.3 and 5.3%).
All the same, the essential oils exhibited antifungal
activity against 13 strains of phytopathogenic fungi; the
essential oil of the plants grown at 1000 m above sea
level was superior (Daniele et al., 2004). Another study
performed with the H. officinalis from U.P. Himalaya
explained the presence of isopinocamphone 38.1%,
pinocarvone 20.3%, 1-8-cineole 12.2% and β-pinene
10.2% as the main compounds and the total 47 chemical
constituents represented 98.56% of the total oil (Shah,
1991). Salma et al. (2002) identified H. officinalis as a
new source of essential oil in Egypt that was
characterized by high content of β-pinene (19.60%),
pinocamphone (19.20%) and camphor (16.3%). The
highest yield of oil production was determined at the
flowering stage of growth, in July (Salma et al., 2002).
Bulgarian and Italian essential oils of H. officinalis L. were
analyzed and the main difference between these two
kinds of hyssop oils was in the higher quantity of
terpenoids in Bulgarian oil. Isopinocamphone and its
biogenetic precursor β-pinene, camphor, 1,8-cineole,
cubenene and germacrene B were detected in the
Bulgarian oil, whereas in the case of Italian hyssop oil, β-
pinene was the minor component and phenyl propanoids,
safrole and benzyl benzoates, were the predominant
constituents of the oil (Manitto et al., 2004). Garcia-
Vallejo et al. (1995) examined the volatile oil of H.
officinalis grown in Spain by gas chromatography (GC)
and gas chromatography/mass spectrometry (GC/MS)
and reported a high content of 1,8-cineole (52.89%) and
β-pinene (16.82%) as the main components of the oil. In
another study, Özer et al. (2005) analyzed the essential
oil of Hyssopus officinalis L. subsp. angustifolius (Bieb.)
Arcangeli wild-growing in the Eastern Anatolian region of
Turkey. The essential oil of this plant demonstrated the
presence of many monoterpenes that were identified by
gas chromatography; about thirty-four components were
characterized, representing 91.0% of the total
components detected. The main components were
identified as pinocarvone (36.3%), pinocamphone
(19.6%), β-pinene (10.6%), 1,8-cineole (7.2%) and
isopinocamphone (5.3%) (Hold and Sirisoma, 2002; Ozer
et al., 2005). Salvatore et al. (1997) performed detailed
Fathiazad and Hamedeyazdan 1961
examination of the essential oil of H. officinalis L. var.
decumbens from the High-Provence Alps in Banon,
France. Linalool (49.6%), 1,8-cineole (13.3%), limonene
(5.4%), β-caryophyllene (2.8%), β-pinene (3.0%) and α-
pinene (2.4%) were identified as the major components
of the essential oil, while iso-pinocamphone and
pinocamphone were present at a lower content level
suggesting the existence of different chemotypes in that
province (Salvatore et al., 1997). Analysis of the essential
oils of H. officinalis L. var. decumbens (HOD) from
France (Banon) and H. officinalis (HO) from Italy by GC
and GC/MS exhibited notable differences in the amounts
of components. The bicyclic monoterpene ketones,
pinocamphone and isopinocamphone, were present in
HO, but their percentages were very low in HOD, where
instead linalool (49.6%), 1,8-cineole (13.3%) and
limonene (5.4%) were predominant (Salvatore et al.,
1998). Chemical analysis for three essential oils of
endemic H. officinalis cultivated in Yugoslavia: f. albus
Alef., f. cyaneus Alef. and f. ruber Mill. showed that
components mainly composed of cis- and trans-
pinocamphone and pinocarvone, together with lesser
amounts of germacrene D, bicyclogermacrene, elemol
and spathulenol (Chalchat et al., 2001). Furthermore, the
presence of aliphatic fatty acids, such as palmitic acid
15.60%, stearic acid 10.73%, linolenic acid 63.98%,
arachidic acid 2.64% and eicosadienoic acid 0.68% in the
Romanian hyssop oil was determined (Benedec et al.,
2002). In our previous study for the essential oil from
Iran, the main constituents were myrtenyl acetate
(74.08%), camphor (6.76%), germacrene (3.39%),
spathulenol (2.14%), caryophyllen oxide (2.13%) and β-
caryophyllene (2.10%) with lesser amounts of cis-sabinol
(1.75%), β- bourbonene (1.47%) and bornyl acetate
(1.42%) (Fathiazad et al., 2011).
Kerrola et al. (1994) investigated the volatile
compounds of the four phenotypes of H. officinalis L.
differentiated by the color of the corolla, by Soxhlet
extraction and Supercritical Fluid Extraction (SFE). The
main components of all extracts were identified as
pinocamphone, isopinocamphone, and pinocarvone.
However, differences in the quantity of the constituents
were worth mentioning; the lower amount of
monoterpene hydrocarbons and a higher amount of
oxygenated hydrocarbons were obtained in the SFE
(Kerrola et al., 1994). Detailed examination of the SFE of
the hyssop oil was undertaken by Kazazi et al. (2007) at
various pressures, temperatures, extraction (dynamic and
static), times and modifier (methanol) concentrations.
Considering the impacts of different factors during the
extraction, it was shown that the composition of the
extracted oils was significantly influenced by the
operating conditions. Major components of the extracts
under different SFE conditions were sabinene (4.2 to
17.1%, w/w), iso-pinocamphene (0.9 to 16.5%) and
pinocamphene (0.7 to 13.6%). Consequently, SFE
offered more choices with parameters for the extraction
1962 Afr. J. Pharm. Pharmacol.
of different components of the hyssop oil (Kazazi et al.,
2007). Kazazi and Rezaei (2007) in another study
evaluated effects of various parameters on the selective
extraction of compounds from hyssop using SFE and
hydrodistillation. Sabinene, pinocamphene and iso-
pinocamphene were the major compounds applying SFE
with different operational conditions. The optimized
conditions of SFE for the highest extraction selectivity of
pinocamphene and iso-pinocamphene were achieved at
100 atmosphere, 45°C temperature, with 4.5 µl (0.14%,
w/w) methanol, dynamic extraction time of 20 min and
static extraction time of 25 min. Nonetheless, the results
of the study suggested that the hyssop collected from
Iran could be a special chemotype with a high sabinene
concentration (11.04%) (Kazazi and Rezaei, 2009). More
recently, Langa et al. (2009) studied the effects of
pressure, temperature and flow rate of CO2, as well as
the particle size of the vegetable material, on the yield
and composition of the SFE of essential oil from H.
officinalis in comparison with HD extraction. The major
compounds for both techniques were 1,8-cineol
(eucalyptol) (60 to 75%) followed by terpinen-4-ol (4 to
10%), pinocarvone (2 to 6%) and β-pinene (1 to 6%). In
spite of the major similar compounds with comparable oil
yields for both SFE and HD methods, heavier compounds
were detected for the oil obtained from SFE technique
(Toth et al., 1989; Langa et al., 2009).
On the whole, the essential oil content may vary
considerably within a single species from one growth
season to another, affected by extraction method,
climatic parameters and agrotechnical factors
(Benhammou et al., 2008; Ghalem and Mohamed, 2009;
Xu et al., 2011). Additionally, many plants have various
chemotypes that differ in their both quantitative and
qualitative diversity in the composition of essential oils
obtained (Varga et al., 1998b). Further studies are
mandatory to determine the origin of the differences
observed during examinations.
IN VITRO STUDIES
Antimicrobial and antioxidant activities
Mazzanti et al. (1998) published a paper in which they
reported that essential oil of both H. officinalis L. and H.
officinalis L. var decumbens possessed strong
antimicrobial activity in vitro. The findings of the study
showed that all yeasts including seven strains of Candida
albicans, Candida krusei and Candida tropicalis were
strongly inhibited by both species. In liquid medium the
minimal inhibitory concentration (MIC) of H. officinalis L.
was 41.2% v/v for bacteria and between 0.6 and 1.2% v/v
for yeasts, while the MIC of var. decumbens was
between 0.15 and 0.6% v/v for the Gram positive
bacteria, 0.3 and 1.2% v/v for the Gram negative bacteria
and 0.15 and 0.3% v/v for the yeasts. Regarding the
contribution of pure components to the antimicrobial
activity of the oils, pinocamphone and isopinocamphone
were present in H. officinalis L. (4.4 and 43.3%,
respectively), and instead linalol (51.7%), 1,8-cineole
(12.3%) and limonene (5.1%) were predominant in var.
decumbens representing the special microbiological
properties of the essential oils. On the whole, the effect of
var. decumbens was generally bactericidal. Linalol and
1,8-cineole, may contribute to the greater antimicrobial
activity of var. decumbens compared to H. officinalis L.,
while limonene may be responsible for the antimycotic
action observed in both oils (Mazzanti et al., 1998).
Marino et al. (2001) evaluated three groups of essential
oils including hyssop oil for their inhibitory effects against
nine strains of Gram negative bacteria and six strains of
Gram positive bacteria. On the contrary to the previously
published paper by Mazzanti et al. (1998) the findings of
the study exhibited that the hyssop oil in general was less
inhibitory against different strains of bacteria, suggesting
variation in the composition of the essential oils according
to the environmental conditions and plant chemotypes
(Marino et al., 2001).
Recently, Kizil et al. (2010) evaluated antimicrobial and
antioxidant activities of the essential oil of H. officinalis
(L.) collected from wild in the Southeast Anatolian,
Turkey. Isopinocamphone (57.27%), (-)-β-pinene
(7.23%), (-)-terpinen-4-ol (7.13%), pinocarvone (6.49%),
carvacrol (3.02%), p-cymene (2.81%) and myrtenal
(2.32%) were determined as the major components of the
hydrodistilled essential oil by GC-MS analysis. The
essential oil with 5 and 10 µl concentrations was carried
out for anti-microbial disc diffusion tests. The results of
the study were indicative of the oils strong antimicrobial
activities against Staphylococcus pyogenes,
Staphylococcus aureus, C. albicans and Escherichia coli,
but not against Pseudomonas aeruginosa. The
antioxidant activity of H. officinalis essential oil was lower
as compared to butylated hydroxytoluene and ascorbic
acid. Generally, hyssop essential oil showed relatively
low antioxidant activity and good antimicrobial activity
against some test organisms (Kizil et al., 2010). In
addition to the all cited papers indicating the importance
of this genus for its antibacterial activity, publication of a
patented product identified as KR 2005073080 of 2005-
07-13 is an extra confirmation of the fact. The invention
comprises of an anti-acne composition which exhibits
excellent anti-bacterial activity to propionbacterium acnes
as causative bacteria of acne, while no adverse reaction
to human body by comprising essential oil extracted from
plants including H. officinalis as effective ingredient.
Besides, another patent product has also been reported
as JP 2004262861 of 2004-09-24 with the aim of
cosmetics skin-conditioning and antiwrinkle topical
formulations containing 0.01% H. officinalis and 50%
ethanolic extract (Handa, 2004; In Hong et al., 2005).
The essential oil of H. officinalis L. subsp. angustifolius
and methanolic extract of the plant were examined for
their in vitro antimicrobial and antioxidant activities.
Although, the methanol extract in the DPPH assay
provided 50% inhibition at a concentration of 117.0 µg/ml
and 40% inhibition at the concentration of 2 g/L in linoleic
acid test system, it showed no effective activities in the
antimicrobial assays, whereas, the essential oil exhibited
activity against eight bacteria, ten fungi and yeast, C.
albicans, with MIC values ranging from 15.625 to 250
µl/ml; no distinctive anti oxidant properties were achieved
for the essential oil (Ozer et al., 2006).
Ebrahimzadeh et al. (2010) employed six different in
vitro methods for evaluating antioxidant and free radical
scavenging activities of methanolic extract of the aerial
parts of H. officinalis L. var. angustifolius along with three
other plants. They showed that it showed potent to
modrate antioxidant activities in reducing powers and
DPPH radical-scavenging as well as Fe2+ chelating
ability assays, respectively. Although, in the case of nitric
oxide and hydrogen peroxide scavenging and ferric
thiocyanate methods, the results for the anti oxidant
activities of H. officinalis L. extracts were very low and
weak (Ebrahimzadeh et al., 2010). SFE extraction of
antioxidant fractions from certain Lamiaceae herbs with
their antioxidant capacity was evaluated (Babovic et al.,
2010). Antioxidant activity of the obtained extracts,
including H. officinalis were determined by measuring
their ability to scavenge stable DPPH free radical and
reactive hydroxyl radical during the Fenton reaction
trapped by 5,5-dimethyl-1-pyroline-N-oxide, using
electron spin resonance spectroscopy. According to the
results of the study, hyssop extract showed much weaker
antioxidant activity as compared to the rosemary, sage,
and thyme extracts in different methods of antioxidant
evaluations (Dragland et al., 2003; Fernandez-Lopez et
al., 2003; Babovic et al., 2010). Ludmila and Viera (2005)
assessed the antiradical activity and the reduction power
of H. officinalis extracts in another study. All the extracts
showed high activities by both evaluation criteria.
Besides, among the phenolic acids, gallic acid was found
to be the most active component in scavenging free
radicals and caffeic acid had the highest reducing power.
In a study conducted by Glamoålija et al. (2005),
essential oil of the H. officinalis L. was evaluated for its
antifungal activity against Mycogone perniciosa (Mang),
one of the major pathogenic diseases of the cultivated
mushroom Agaricus bisporus (Lange) Imbach in Serbia.
The findings of the study revealed its positional antifungal
activity with minimal inhibitory quantity of 5 µl/ml and a
minimal fungicidal quantity of 15 to 20 µl/ml. These kinds
of studies have been placed in the focus of medical and
aromatic plants investigations for their antifungal
properties since relative biological control systems are
not much used in mushroom cultivation (Ghfir et al.,
1994; Ghfir et al., 1997; Glamoålija et al., 2005; Raila et
al., 2009). Twelve essential oils from Mediterranean
aromatic plants were tested at different doses against
four fungi: Botrytis cinerea, Penicillium italicum,
Fathiazad and Hamedeyazdan 1963
Phytophthora citrophthora, and Rhizopus stolonifer. The
findings of the study revealed weak to moderate fungicide
activities in the case of hyssop oil; however, these
essential oils together with hyssop oil could be
considered as natural preservatives for food products
(Camele et al., 2010). Motiejunaite and Kalediene (2003)
carried out an antifungal screening for essential oils of
some Lamiacae plants using agar-diffusion method. In
most cases including H. officinalis L. a complete inhibition
of Aspergillus niger growth was observed at 0.5 to 1.5%
Pavela (2004) investigated insecticidal activities of
eight medicinal plants including H. officinalis in third instar
larvae of Egyptian cottonworm (Spodoptera littoralis).
Methanolic extract of H. officinalis at the concentration of
10 % (w/v) significantly affected the growth indexes which
showed a certain degree of larval toxicity with 1.78 LC50
and a range of 1.66 and 1.82 confidence interval of 95%
Anti viral activity
Crude extracts of the dried leaves of H. officinalis were
also tested for its effectiveness on inhibition of human
immunodeficiency virus (HIV) replication. Not only a safe
non-toxic activity was determined for the uninfected Molt-
3 cells, but also, a strong anti-HIV activity was revealed
as measured by inhibition of syncytia formation, HIV
reverse transcriptase (RT) and p17 and p24 antigen
expression. In the experiment, either extracts from direct
extraction, after removal of tannins or from the residue
after dialysis of the crude extract, also showed good
antiviral activity. Eventually, Kreis et al. (1990) concluded
that the hyssop extracts contained caffeic acid,
unidentified tannins, and possibly a third class of
unidentified higher molecular weight compounds which
exhibited strong anti-HIV activity, and might be useful in
the treatment of patients with AIDS (Kreis et al., 1990).
In another study conducted by Gollapudi et al. (1995), an
isolated polysaccharide (MAR-10) from the aqueous
extract of H. officinalis was examined for its activity
against HIV-1 (SF strain) in HUT78 T cell line and
primary cultures of peripheral blood mononuclear cells.
They demonstrated that the MAR-10 inhibited HIV-1
replication in a concentration-dependent manner with no
substantial direct toxicity or effect on lymphocyte
functions or CD4+ and CD8+ T cell counts (Gollapudi et
Methanolic and hexane extracts of twelve plants including
H. officinalis that are used in traditional European
medicine to treat different central nervous system
disorders were tested for the symptomatic treatment of
1964 Afr. J. Pharm. Pharmacol.
Alzheimer’s disease using Ellman’s colorimetric method.
Since the therapy of early and moderate stages of
Alzheimer’s disease is mainly based on the choline
esterase inhibitors; effects of the plant extracts on
acetylcholinesterase (AChE) and butyrylcholinesterase
(BuChE) inhibitors were investigated (Wszelaki et al.,
2010). Ultimately, H. officinalis revealed no significant
inhibitory activity, as the methanolic and hexane extracts
showed 5.2 ± 8.2 and 29.6 ± 2.3 AChE inhibition (%) and
11.5 ± 0.5 and 23.2 ± 2.0 BuChE inhibitions (%) at the
concentrations of 100 mg/ml-1, respectively (Wszelaki et
Animal model studies
Matsuura et al. (2004) evaluated aqueous methanol
extracts of dried H. officinalis leaves for their α-
glucosidase inhibitory activity. The active principles
against α-glucosidase, prepared from rat small intestine
acetone powders, were isolated and the amount of
glucose derived from sucrose in the reaction mixture was
measured. The extract showed inhibitory activity which
led to the further isolation and identification of the
responsible compounds for the α-glucosidase inhibitory
activity. The structures of the two isolated compounds
were determined to be (7S,8S)-syringoylglycerol-9-O-(60-
O-cinnamoyl)-β-d-glucopyranoside (1) and (7S,8S)-
syringoylglycerol 9-O-β-d-glucopyranoside (2) by analysis
of physical and spectroscopic data together with chemical
syntheses that exhibited 53 and 54% inhibitory activity at
the concentration of 3 × 10-3 M for the compounds 1 and
2, respectively (Matsuura et al., 2004). In another study,
Miyazaki et al. (2003) evaluated the α-glucosidase
inhibitory effects of the hyssop extracts on
hyperglycemia, intestinal carbohydrate absorption by
examining the inhibitory effects on intestinal carbohydrate
absorption in rat everted gut sac and carbohydrate-
loaded hyperglycemia in mice. According to the results, in
the presence of 0.5 and 1.0 mg/ml hyssop extracts, the
carbohydrate-loaded excessive increase in blood glucose
was inhibited within 120 min, suggesting that hyssop
might be a useful supplemental food for inhibiting of
postprandial hyperglycemia (Miyazaki et al., 2003).
Confirming this idea, they had provided a patented
product identified as JP 2004256467 of 2003-50400 from
the derivatives of this plant as α-glucosidase inhibitors
(Miyazaki et al., 2004). Elsewhere, the inhibitory activities
of some plants used in Lebanon traditional medicine
containing H. officinalis extracts against angiotensin
converting enzyme (ACE) and digestive enzymes related
to diabetes were investigated (Loizzo et al., 2008). They
demonstrated that the H. officinalis chloroform extract
was active only on the α-glucosidase enzyme, with IC50
values ranging from 127.3 to 908.4 µg/ml. At the same
time the n-hexane extract of the H. officinalis exhibited a
strong inhibitory potency against ACE (IC50 values of
52.0 µg/ml) (Loizzo et al., 2008). Churl et al. (2005)
carried out an experiment to study the simulative or
sedative effects of some inhaling essential oils by using a
forced swimming test with mice. Inhalation of the hyssop
oil (P < 0.01) increased the immobile state in mice that
were artificially over agitated by an intra parental injection
of caffeine (a psycho-stimulant). Accordingly, the authors
stated that the inhaling fragrant hyssop oil possessed
sedative effects (Churl et al., 2005).
Essential oils extracted from different plants including
H. officinalis were tested for their antiplatelet activity and
inhibition of clot retraction in guinea pig and rat plasma.
As Tognolini et al. (2006) mentioned in their study,
phenylpropanoid moiety is a favorable chemical feature
for the inhibition of platelet aggregation and lack of this
moiety in the hyssop oil is responsible for the oil to be
The myorelaxant effect of the hyssop essential oil on
isolated preparations of guinea-pig and rabbit intestinal
musculature was determined (Lu et al., 2002).
Isopinocamphone, the major component of the essential
oil, was considered to be responsible of the relaxing
effect. Accordingly, essential oil and isopinocamphone
inhibited the acetylcholine- and BaCl2-induced
contractions in guinea-pig ileum in a concentration-
dependent manner (IC50 42.4 and 61.9 µg/ml to
acetylcholine; 48.3 and 70.4 µg/ml to BaCl2), whereas
limonene or β-pinene left tissue contraction was
unchanged. Nonetheless, synergic actions among the
other several components of the essential oil could not be
excluded. They believed that the myorelaxant activity
induced by the hyssop oil could originate from its
interaction with the plasma membrane and subsequent
alteration of the ionic channels. Considering the inactivity
of the β-pinene and limonene, it had been suggested that
the interaction not only depends on the lipophilicity of the
essential oil and its components, but also on the chemical
structure of the components of the essential oil (Lu et al.,
2002). Mazzanti et al. (1998) reported the spasmolytic
activity of the essential oil from H. officinalis L. var.
decumbens. The essential oil and its major pure
components, linalool, 1,8-cineole and limonene inhibited
the acetylcholine- and BaCl2-induced contractions on
isolated guinea-pig ileum with IC50 values of 37, 60, 10
and 51 µg/ml, correspondingly. Generally, it has been
suggested that the hyssop oil would provide us with
valuable feature of myorelaxant activity in antispasmodic
remedies (Mazzanti et al., 1998).
Cytotoxicity of the essential oils of H. officinalis L. (HO)
and H. officinalis var. decumbens (HOD) was evaluated
using the brine shrimp (Artemia salina Leach) test. The
percent of nauphii dead within 24 h was reported to
determine the cytotoxic activity of the essential oils.
Accordingly, HOD with LC50 of 156.03 µg/ml lower than
HO 191.06 mg/ml revealed stronger cytotoxic activity
probably in support of linalool rich in HOD (Renzini et al.,
Concisely, these issues furnish the background for the
experiments on the associated basic studies for the H.
officinalis (L.) which is an important source of bioactive
substances of medicinal interest. Nevertheless, several
experimental studies are required to confirm the
therapeutic potential of this plant and determine whether
biological differences reflect the different isolation
procedures, different types of plant material used,
collection time, locations or different chemotypes.
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