To Cure Cancer, “Cleanse me with Hyssop”, or Pizza!

Again, as in my post about hyrax intelligence, scientists seem to have found proof of ancient wisdom from the Bible, and this time it has real practical use, as a cure for cancer.

The king and psalmist David wrote, after his adultery with Bathsheba,

Cleanse me with hyssop, and I will be clean.

Psalm 51:7 (NIV)

Now the cleansing he had in mind here was more spiritual than physical. But why did he mention hyssop? In the Bible this plant, ezov in Hebrew, seems to have been used mainly as an instrument for sprinkling water or blood as part of cleansing rituals. But that hardly makes sense in the context of David’s psalm.

Anyway, what was hyssop? There is a genus of plants, Hyssopus, now known by that name, but it seems unlikely that the biblical accounts refer to any of these species. According to the Catholic Encyclopedia,

The plant, which at the present day, is considered as more probably the hyssop of the Mosaic ritual, is the Origanum maru.

Origanum syriacumNow “the present day” here is 1910. A more recent source suggests that the biblical hyssop was Origanum syriacum, also named by the 1906 Jewish Encyclopedia, but there seems to be some confusion between this plant and Origanum maru. In any case the ancient name may well have referred to more than one species. However, it does seem likely that the biblical hyssop was a member of the oregano family.

The relevance of this is in a new report from Science Daily Component of Pizza Seasoning Herb Oregano Kills Prostate Cancer Cells. Apparently a researcher has shown that carvacrol, a constituent of oregano which is best known as a herb used in pizza, causes the death of at least some cancer cells.

Though the study is at its preliminary stage, she believes that the initial data indicates a huge potential in terms of carvacrol’s use as an anti-cancer agent.

Oregano oil, the main component of which is carvacrol, has also been claimed as

useful as an antiviral, antibacterial, and antifungal agent rivaling even pharmaceutical antibiotics … also a powerful parasitic expellant, is valuable as a food preservative, and has been used to decontaminate foods from potentially harmful pathogen’s

– but I would be sceptical about such claims which come from a site selling this oil. The oil is generally taken from common oregano, Origanum vulgare, but carvacrol is also the main component of the oil of Origanum syriacum.

So what did the biblical authors know about the herb they called ezov? Surely it meant more to them than a sprinkling instrument. Its use in cleansing rituals suggests that it was also known in itself as a cleansing agent for the body. The ancient Greeks certainly knew of the healing properties of oregano, and it seems likely that the Hebrews would also have done. But it seems to have taken until the 21st century for scientists to recognise this.

Meanwhile, as man in the age group at risk from prostate cancer, I will use this as an excuse for eating more pizza!

12 thoughts on “To Cure Cancer, “Cleanse me with Hyssop”, or Pizza!

  1. Well well! And I used Oregano in the dinner last night. I always sensed that there was much good in Italian Cuisine, inclusing the wine. Don’t tell my French sister in law.

    I guess I too am in the age of risk. My late father was being kept under observation after discovery enhanced PSA levels. Though it was the effects of a massiver stroke which carried him off.

  2. Thank you, Stuart and Colin. I enjoy my wife’s Italian cooking, with quite a lot of oregano in it. I trust it is keeping my prostate safe. The wine, in moderation, is also said to be good for me.

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  4. Jesus’ prayer for (“whole wheat”) daily bread (in a time of no flour mills) would be a better choice than processed pizza, with all its ingredients besides oregano. For a revealing study on nutrition and cancer (including prostate cancer), check out Colin Campbell’s The China Study.

  5. Yes indeed; whole wheat crust and oregano would be good. It’s the rest of the ingredients, like cheese or meat, that are the “rich” foods we love today. There is a lot of scientific evidence that this rich diet affects the higher cancer rates in those countries (and individuals) that eat this way.

  6. Notice, also, the formula for liquid soap which shows up in Numbers 19.

    Context: The people have provoked YHWH to anger and he has decided to cause this huge company of people to live for another 39 years in close quarters during a time when every male over the age of 20 will die. So, because Israel did not enter the land when they were commanded to do so, God has to come up with a means of keeping people healthy when every family will need to deal with several dead bodies over the years.

    Recipe: So skin, bone, fat, etc., from a three-year-old red cow that has never borne a calf nor pulled a wagon and cedar and other red things and hyssop are all burned together, producing a fatty lye, which, when mixed with water, became liquid soap.

    Question: I wonder if hyssop retains its theraputic properties when it is reduced to ash?

  7. Trace, that’s a good question. I hadn’t noticed that the hyssop would be burned. Perhaps the point was to provide a pleasing odour. But maybe there are also some specific healing properties in the ash of Origanum syriacum.

  8. The hyssop was burned with the other ingredients but then a hyssop branch was used to sprinkle the viscous solution on the “unclean” person, building, what-have you. So hyssop was both an ingredient which was burned to ash and it was the means of application. My guess is, the stuff was quite caustic because the next instruction after it is sprinkled on you is, that you go wash with water. These were the original wash and rinse cycles.

  9. Pingback: Alternative Treatment of Prostate Cancer- Oregano Spice Can Help … |

  10. Pingback: Alternative Treatment of Prostate Cancer- Oregano Spice Can Help … | Treatment

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