Thyme, a common garden herb, is a low-lying perennial in the Lamiaceae family that has dozens of variations in aroma, color, and size. It’s easily cultivated in planters and garden beds, and the small white flowers attract beneficial pollinators such as honey bees. Thymus vulgaris, the most common thyme, has square shaped, procumbent woody stems that are finely hairy. They typically grow up to about ten inches in length, bearing opposite, sessile, ovate leaves that have slightly rolled edges. The aromatic plant flowers from spring to fall, bearing small, bluish-purple bilabiate flowers that grow in dense whorls. Thyme prefers Mediterranean climates, light, chalky, well drained soils, and can be grown easily by seed or root divisions.
Thyme is a an often overlooked herb because of it’s culinary connotation, however, it has a wide range of medicinal uses, having both stimulating and relaxing properties that function in regulating the whole body system. It’s primary active constituent, thymol, has powerful germicidal, antifungal, and stimulating properties. It has strong carminative actions, making it useful for sluggish digestion, colic, and dyspepsia. It’s also antiseptic and anti-microbial, making it useful in externally for use on infected wounds and internally for respiratory and digestive infections, as well as laryngitis, infected tonsils, sore throats, and irritable coughs. It can be added to deodorants, mouthwashes, and cough drops for aromatic, antimicrobial action. It’s expectorant and anti-spasmodic properties make it a great cough remedy, allowing you to cough up the mucus in your lungs without unnecessary spasms, and making it especially useful for treating whooping cough, asthma, pleurisy, and bronchitis. It’s anti-spasmodic properties are also useful in calming down painful muscle spasms. In addition, it has gentle astringent properties, assisting the treatment of mild diarrhea and for children with bedwetting problems. It can be used in baths and as an external oil to assist the treatment of scabies, rheumatism, swelling, sprains, neuralgia, and gout. The oil can also help reduce painful swelling in the hips and gonads. In addition, recent studies have also shown that thyme has high levels of anti-oxidants, and may help maintain high levels of essential fatty acids within the brain.
Prized and praised throughout old Europe as a “notable strengthener of the lungs, as notable a one as grows” (Nicholas Culpeper, 1616-1654), thyme has long been an important antiseptic herb and respiratory tonic. Thyme is a primary ingredient in the Nine Herbs Charm and in thieves oil, a blend of antiseptic and antibacterial herbs that robbers and thieves would anoint themselves with during the bubonic plague to avoid illness while plundering the homes of the dead. In the Middle ages, thyme was used for women’s problems, such as inducing menses, increasing and soothing painful urination, and to induce abortions. The leaves were also slept on and inhaled frequently, as they were thought to be good for depression and other melancholy diseases, as well as for epileptics. It was also prized for it’s carminative actions and was used as a hair tonic and in wart removing ointments. It was also a home remedy for expelling hookworms and useful as an external salve as a home remedy to remove warts and soothe shingles. The honey that bees produce when feasting exclusively on thyme blossoms is also thought to be particularly healthful and beneficial. Culinarily, it is incredibly versatile and commonly used in European and Middle Eastern cooking. Taken before bed, it’s also a home remedy for nightmares.
Flavor Profile and Energetics
Spicy, warming, pungent, heating increases Pitta, decreases Kappa and Vata.
2 teaspoons of dried herb per cup of water, infused for ten minutes and taken three times daily. As a tincture, 2-4ml three times daily. As a bath additive, a strong decoction of 4 tsp of the dried herb per cup of water is best added to bath water. Culinarily, use liberally.
For asthmatic problems, it combines well with lobelia and ephedra. For whooping cough, it works nicely with wild cherry and sundew.
Excessive internal use of large amounts of thyme may cause symptoms of poisoning and can over stimulate the thyroid gland.
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