Botanical and Common Names
- Family Labiatae/Lamiaceae
- Agastache rugosa (Giant Hyssop, Huo Xiang [Chinese])
- Agastache mexicanum syn. Cedronella mexicana (Spanish: Toronjil, Toronjil Morado/Rojo/Blanco, Té de Menta, Nahuatl: Tlalhaueuetl, Tlalámatl, Tzompilihuitzpatli, Tzompilihuitzxíhuitl)
- Agastache foeniculum (Lavender Hyssop)
- Melissa species
- None listed.
Native to China, but also found in Japan, Korea, Laos, and Russia, the Chinese species grows wild on slopes and along roadsides. It is an aromatic perennial or biennial herb of the mint family with triangular leaves and purple flowers growing on dense spikes. In southern China and Taiwan, Pogostemon cablin, a close relative of the Indian plant (P. patchouli) is used interchangeably with A. rugosa.
The Mexican variety is distinguished by long spikes of red flowers. However, a related species, Dracocephalum moldavica, known as the Chinese Blue Hyssop (Toronjil chino, toronjil azul in Spanish), refers to the Asian origins of the plant and the blue (azul), rather than red, flowers. The plants are often used interchangeably. Lemon balm (Melissa spp. or Menthe) is also sometimes called “toronjil”.
Lavender Hyssop is found on upland woods and prairies of North America.
It is first mentioned in a Chinese medicinal text in Tao Hongjing’s revision of the Divine Husbandman’s Classic (Shen’nong Bencoajing), written around 500 CE.
The Aztecs used their species ornamentally, as well as in the treatment of wounds. Today, in Mexico, it is still mixed with lard to make a salve.
The Cheyenne made a tea from Lavender hyssop leaves which was taken for chest pains related to coughing or a weak heart. The powedered leaves were also rubbed on the body for a cooling effect during fevers and used in the sweat lodges to induce sweating. The Crees frequently included the flowers in their medicine bundles.
- digestive stimulant and aid
- volatile oil (including methyl chavicol, anethole, anisaldehyde, and limonene)
- Aerial parts
In Chinese medicine, the herb is considered to be a “warming” one, and used for poor digestion, stimulating and warming the digestive tract, relieving such symptoms as bloating, nausea, indigestion, and vomiting. It is commonly used to relieve or prevent vomiting or morning sickness.
It is used also to treat the early stages of viral infections that feature nausea or stomachache.
It is often combined with skullcap and other herbs for symptoms of malaise, fever, aching muscles, and lethargy.
A lotion is used externally for such fungal infections as ringworm.
In Mexico, it is used mainly in remedies for nervous disorders, indigestion, insomnia, menstrual cramps, and headaches.