Thymus is derived from the Greek word thymon , meaning ‘courage’, and many traditions relate to this virtue. Roman soldiers, for example, bathed in thyme water to give themselves vigour. Now, who of us could do with a bit more courage and bit more vigour? Here at EHP we could both do with a great big dose of each! Life happens on life terms, and sometimes we could each use a little help to get through the more challenging times.
Thyme (Thymus vulgaris) is one of those herbs that we just shouldn’t be without in our garden (fresh) or in our cupboard (dried). It can be used as a culinary herb, a tea, a wash, steam inhalation to alleviate coughing, an essential oil and a decoction. The fresh herb can be used to make a compress to help heal wounds, to apply to bruises and sprains to increase blood flow, or as a warm compress to fight infection. The dried and powdered herb has been known to be used as a snuff to alleviate colds and flu.
Medicinally, thyme is sought after as an excellent antiseptic, expectorant, astringent, anti-fungal and antispasmodic herb.
Here are some of the many ways it is used.
Integumentary System (The skin and all that is associated with it: hair, nails, scales, hooves)
It helps to reduce fever; eliminate scalp itching and flaking and prevent infection from insect bites.
An antiseptic ointment can be made and applied externally as a lotion for infected wounds. A hot poultice can be applied to boils and abscesses.
Thyme helps to eliminates gas. It is a good herb to take for liver disease. It can be infused as a tea and drunk as a digestive tonic and for hangovers.
It is also a digestive stimulant and is useful for people with a sluggish digestive system, or in convalescence when the whole body is less efficient than usual. Thyme is an intestinal antiseptic and as such is valuable in the healing of gastric infections.
It also helps to alleviate heartburn and indigestion and is used in cases of dyspepsia and a sluggish digestion.
Thyme has strong antiseptic properties. An excellent use in this regard is to use the essential oil in an antiseptic air spray.
Perhaps one of the most important actions of Thyme in all forms of infection is that it stimulates the production of white corpuscles, so strengthening the body’s resistance to invading organisms.
Cardiovascular system (heart, blood vessels, blood):
It has been known to Lower cholesterol levels. It may also relieve poor capillary circulation, muscular pain, and stimulate the production of white blood corpuscles to resist infection. Thyme stimulates the circulation generally and raises low blood pressure.
Thyme is a urinary tract antiseptic and is useful for all infections of the bladder or urinary tract, and as it is a diuretic as well, this doubles its effectiveness.
It reduces mucus and is very good for relieving conditions related to asthma, bronchitis, croup and other respiratory problems
It is anticatarrhal and is used as a gargle for laryngitis and tonsillitis.
An excellent remedy for the common cold when taken as a tea three times a day.
Nervous system (Brain, spinal cord, nerves, nerve endings, central nervous system. peripheral nervous system):
Thyme reduces headaches. An infused thyme oil can be used as a massage for headaches.
Thyme helps to revive and strengthen the body and mind and is reputed, like Rosemary, to stimulate the brain and improve memory.
It is used in baths to help insomnia, and this is not paradoxical as it may seem in the light of its stimulating properties, for we once again find, as with so many oils it has a balancing effect.
Thyme assists and promotes menstruation. As such, it is not recommended for pregnant women.
Thyme and children:
Used in tea form, thyme is an appropriate remedy for respiratory problems in children.
It is also an excellent and gentle astringent, and may be helpful for childhood diarrea and bed wetting.
Thyme essential oil:
Use the thyme essential oil as an antiseptic in toothpastes and mouthwashes.
It can be used as an inhalation for nose and throat infections. Or as a mouthwash or gargle when mixed with a little alcohol and distilled water.
It is sometimes used for hair rinses, aromatic waters for the skin and in compresses for sores and wounds. It has been used in soapy solutions for disinfecting the hands before surgery, being a much stronger antiseptic than many of those commonly used in hospitals.
Is it any wonder that this year Thyme gets first focus at Essential Herbal Products? I (Sue) have been drinking the tea three times a day for a week to help clear up a mild middle ear infection. This has been a much gentler first option than taking the antibiotics that the clinic sister would have preferred I take.
In our respective homes, both Chris and I use thyme essential oil on a damp cloth to wipe down our kitchen counter tops. This is an excellent antibacterial, antimicrobial disinfectant.
And to end on a culinary note, here is a simple and delicious sauce recipe for you:
Thyme and lemon sauce
2 tablespoons fresh thyme stripped off the stalks, or 1 teaspoon dried thyme
1 teaspoon crushed coriander seeds
Juice of 2 lemons 1 tablespoon honey.
Crush the thyme and coriander and mix everything together. Shake the mixture up in a screw-top jar.
Serve over fish, cheese, pasta or bean dishes.
Sue and Chris