Also Known As
Common Thyme, French Thyme, Garden Thyme, Mignotise des Genevois, Oil of Thyme, Rubbed Thyme, Spanish Thyme, Tomillo, Van Ajwayan, Vanya Yavani
Southern Europe, Western Asia
Leaves and flowering tops
Traditional Use and Health Benefits
Native to the European shores of the Mediterranean, the medicinal and culinary use of Thyme dates back thousands of years, its medicinal qualities first being recognised before it went on to be a flavoursome herb used in cooking and seasoning.
One of the Emperors favourite plants in ancient Rome, Thyme was considered a healing and protecting herb that could protect from poisoning when consumed as part of a meal. The Romans also burned bundles of Thyme to purify temples and homes, and it was the Romans who introduced this herb to England where it became just as popular as it was on the shores of the Mediterranean.
The most common traditional uses of Thyme were as a remedy for dry coughs, as a digestive aid and it was used to make a mouthwash for ulcers and infections of the mouth and throat.
Respiratory Health/Cough Suppressant
Science is now validating what the ancients already knew about Thyme benefits to respiratory health. A study looking at the effectiveness of Thyme for acute bronchitis found that patients who were given extracts of dry Thyme and Evening Primrose found that they had significantly better healing times than those given the placebo.
Another double blind, placebo controlled clinical trial found that patients with acute bronchitis who were given a combination of Thyme extract and Ivy leaves displayed a 50% reduction in coughing fits two days sooner than those given the placebo.
Thyme is rich in plant phenols such as thymol and carvacrol which are powerfully anti-spasmodic, making them potent cough suppressants. The antibacterial and expectorant qualities of this herb thin the mucus that the cough is trying to expel, whilst gently healing and soothing the bronchial tract. As a result of the overwhelming research, Thyme oil is approved by Germany’s “Commission E” in the treatment of bronchitis, whooping cough and upper respiratory inflammation.
Antibacterial/Sore Throat Remedy
Another traditional use of this herb that has gained traction in the scientific world is its use as an effective remedy for sore throats. Thyme essential oil is one of nature’s most powerful antimicrobials, with its calvacrol content being the main weapon against many of the different bacteria that can cause this uncomfortable condition.
A recent Polish study tested the response of Thyme essential oil to 120 different strains of bacteria that were isolated from patients with infections of the oral cavity, respiratory tract and genitourinary tract. They found that the oil exhibited extremely strong activity against all of the bacterial strains. Furthermore, it even demonstrated efficacy against antibiotic resistant strains. Thyme oil has also been found to be effective against various Staphylococcus species, including MRSA.
The antiseptic compounds – caryophyllene, camphene and thymol – found in Thyme will guard wounds against infections and speed up healing.
The antispasmodic qualities of Thyme (especially in the essential oil) help to relax veins and arteries, which in turn lowers blood pressure and eases stress on the heart. I can tone and strengthen heart muscles and stimulates the circulatory system, again easing pressure on the heart.
Thyme benefits the digestive system by promoting the overall wellbeing of the digestive tract. One of the active compounds, thymol, stimulates peristaltic muscle movements so that food is not held in the stomach for prolonged periods of time. The antispasmodic action of this herb can relieve intestinal cramping and reduce bloating from malabsorption. Also known as a carminative, Thyme helps to prevent the formation of gas in the gastrointestinal tract and supports the removal of excess gasses which helps to combat flatulence.
Promoting regular urination (diuresis) is essential to maintaining normal kidney function. Thyme acts as a natural diuretic, without upsetting the delicate electrolyte balance whilst ensuring that too much fluid isn’t retained.
Among the powerful compounds in Thyme, carvacrol has been found to exert a positive effect on mood. It increases levels of dopamine and serotonin – the neurotransmitters that regulate motivation, drive and overall mood. Consuming this herb regularly or diffusing the essential oil in an aromatherapy burner can promote feelings of relaxation and well-being.
Thyme Essential Oil
Thyme essential oil is rich in many plant compounds that help to strengthen the nerves and combat depression and feelings of exhaustion. Diluted in a carrier oil it can be used to create a massage or bath oil that will soothe tired, aching muscles whilst calming and focusing the mind. It also has a stimulatory effect on circulation and works as a relaxant on arteries and veins which reduces stress to the heart.
Diffusion in an aromatherapy oil burner can be helpful with bronchitis, coughs, respiratory problems, sinusitis and congestion.
Thyme Herbal Tea
Pour a cup of boiling water onto 2 tsp of the dried herb and infuse for l0 minutes. Drink up to 3 timers per day.
Thyme Essential Oil
Thyme essential oil can be used in the bath, or vaporized in an oil burner. It can be added to a massage oil or cream. Use 6-8 drops per bath and 10 -18 drops per 30ml of carrier oil.
Folklore and History
The name Thyme is derived from from the Latin thymus, which can be traced further to the Greek thymós or “spirit”, originally meaning “smoke”. It was burned as incense by the ancient Greeks and Romans to restore strength and clarity to the mind and to clear the air of illnesses and diseases. Like its cousin, Sage, Thyme has now been proven to effectively neutralise dangerous airborne bacteria and microbes.
For thousands of years, Thyme has had a reputation as a healer and protector. It was used as an antidote to poison and a preventative of the plague – the posies of herbs worn when the Black Death struck in the 1340’s included Thyme as a major ingredient. It was also used in concoctions that were applied directly to plague blistered skin.
Thyme was associated with courage and bravery from ancient times well into the Middle Ages and was given as a gift to soldiers about to go into battle. The smoke of Thyme was thought to evoke a spirit of courage in those who inhaled it, and if death should be the fate of the soldier it was believed to be a powerful aid to the journey into the afterlife.
Volatile oil, of highly variable composition; the major constituent is thymol, with lesser amounts of carvacrol, with l,8-cineole, borneol, geraniol, linalool, bornyl and linalyl acetate, thymol methyl ether and a-pinene.
Flavonoids; apigenin, luteolin, thymonin, naringenin and others
Miscellaneous; labiatic acid, caffeic acid, tannins etc.
Not recommended for pregnant or breastfeeding women. Not recommended in cases of epilepsy.
Not recommended if you are taking medication to lower blood pressure. If you are taking any prescription medication, please speak to your healthcare provider.