Anise hyssop (Agastache foeniculum Kuntze)
Family: Lamiaceae


      Native populations and the early settlers used this plant in their traditional medicine to brew tea to treat fevers, colds and coughs. For its scent it was used also as a spice and source of excellent honey.
      Anise hyssop is a perennial plant of the mint family, 60–80(–100) cm tall. The stem is straight, simple, sometimes branched, square, hairless, occasionally hairy at the inflorescence. It has crushed stems and leaves with anise-like odor. The leaves are located opposite one another, oval to triangular, 2–7 cm long, short stalked, margins coarsely toothed. Inflorescence in a terminal spike, 2–10 cm long, 12–18 mm thick, interrupted, crowded, hairy. Flowers are blue or violet, irregular, 2 lipped, 6–12 mm long. Fruits are brown nutlets; 4 nutlets per flower.

agastache foeniculum1  Agastache foeniculum2 

Geographic distribution: North American species found in the western part of the continent, in Canada from British Columbia to Manitoba, in the the US from the state of Montana to Wisconsin, with southernmost distribution in Colorado.

Habitat: It is found in prairie, margins of forests and shrubbery, and can be found up to an elevation of 2500 m. It blooms from June to August.

Threat and Protection: Listed as endangered in the state of Iowa.

Chemical composition. Anise hyssop numerous contains biologically active compounds: essential oils (1,84-3,32%), tannins (7.48-8,55%), flavonoids (0,55-0,60%), ascorbic acid (0,09-0,11%), free organic acids (0.80-1.00%), polysaccharides (7,25-8,22%), macro- and microelements K, Ca, P, Mg, Si, Al, Na. The greatest amount of essential oil is accumulated during the flowering stage. In addition to the relatively high content of essential oil, it should be noted a significant amount of tannins (tannins). In the grass of Anise hyssop there are two classes of tannins - condensed and hydrolyzable. The last one includes gallic acid which has powerful antioxidant and anti-inflammatory effects.

Health benefits. Anise Hyssop has a long history of medicinal use by Native Americans. The Cheyenne used Anise Hyssop tea to relieve depression, while the Cree and Chippewa included it in protective medicine bundles.
The full list of its uses contains:
• Used as an infusion in tea and cold remedies. Relieves congestion.
• As a cardiac herb, it is also used to strengthen a weak heart.
• Clinical research has shown that the essential oils of Anise Hyssop is antiviral toward Herpes simplex I and II.
• A poultice of Agastache foeniculum is also useful in treating burns.
• Being diaphoretic, a hot infusion will induce perspiration and is therefore useful in treating fevers.
• Indians used the leaves in incense to treat depression as it provided an uplifting fragrance.
• Can be used as a wash to treat the itchiness of poison ivy.
• A cold infusion of Agastache foeniculum leaves is used to relieve pains in the chest from excessive coughing.
• Has antibacterial and anti-inflamatory properties. Used as a preventative for summer colds.
• Used by Indians to cure wounds. Can use as a salve.
• Pectoral (Used to treat lung issues) - Often combined with licorice for lung conditions such as repiratory infections and bronchitis. It is an expectorant and cough suppressant.
• It's a aromatic digestant, therefore preventing gas, bloating.
•Treats diarrhea.
• When its leaves are crushed, they have a beautifully aromatic smell of licorice.
• Being aromatic, the oils in the plant are useful in opening up the airways.
• Sedative - One of the main oils in Agastache foeniculum is Methyleugenol, which has been shown to have sedative properties.

Find out more about phytochemistry and bioactivity of the genus Agastache here:
US National Library of Medicine. National Institutes of Health. “Phytochemistry and bioactivity of aromatic and medicinal plants from the genus Agastache (Lamiaceae)” Read more