Also known as
Thymus vulgaris, Creeping Thyme, French Thyme, Garden Thyme, Common Thyme, Mountain Thyme. Botanists refer to the species of the herb used in cooking as garden thyme and to other species as simply "thyme" As with other mints, there are many thyme variants with interesting tastes and fragrances, including lemon thyme, orange thyme, and caraway thyme.
An aromatic herb in the mint family, thyme grows to a height of fifteen inches (about 40 cm), with small rounded leaves and pink flowers on woody stems. This herb is not the same species as mother of thyme of wild thyme. Today the plant is common throughout North America, but it originated in the southern Mediterranean. Experts in language tell us that thyme's name was derived form the Greek word thumus, or courage. In Medieval times, knights wore sprigs of thyme on their armor as a sign of courage. The scent of thyme was thought to give them strength in the midst of battle, as well as relief form pain.
Alpha-linolenic acid, anethole, apigenin, borneol, caffeic acid, calcium, chromium, eugenol, ferulic acid, geraniol, kaempferol, limonene, lithium, luteolin, magnesium, manganese, methionine, p-coumaric acid, potassium, rosmarinic acid, selenium, thymol, tryptophan, ursolic acid.
Fresh or dried sprigs or leaves.
Teas, tinctures, baths, gargles, toothpaste.
A warming, drying herb, thyme is carminative, antibiotic, anthelemic, astringent, expectorant, and antitussive. The essential oil has these same properties, but is also extremely toxic and should not be taken internally. Thyme was used by the ancient Egyptians as one of the herbs included in the mummification process (for its antibacterial qualities), and by the ancient Greeks as an incense. The Romans burned thyme to purify rooms, and also used it to flavor cheese and liqueurs. In the 17th century, thyme teas were a treatment for whooping cough, shortness of breath, gout, and stomach pains and thyme ointment was applied to warts and abcesses. Today, oil of thyme is the main ingredient in the mouthwash Listerine. Thyme is a strong antiseptic used externally for infected cuts and scrapes and internally for oral and respiratory infections. Bath washes made from teas of thyme allowed to cool treat fungal infections such as athlete's foot and also vaginal yeast infections. Thyme contains tannins that cause proteins in skin to cross-link, forming a barrier to infection. Teas of thyme can be taken orally to treat allergies, asthma, colds, and coughs. The essential oil in the herb encourages coughing up of phlegm and stops spasms of the bronchial passages. Inhaling essential oil of thyme placed in hot water as aromatherapy has the same benefits. And of course, the fragrance and flavor of thyme leaves have long been a favorite of cooks for seasoning meats, soups, and stews. Thyme is especially common in Mediterranean and French cuisine, and is an ingredient in the seasoning blend herbes de Provence.
No one should take thyme oil internally. Women who are pregnant should not drink thyme tea, although small amounts of thyme used in cooking do not cause side effects. Do not take thyme as a medicine if you have a duodenal ulcer or if you have thyroid disease.
For educational purposes only This information has not been evaluated by the Food and Drug Administration.
This information is not intended to diagnose, treat, cure, or prevent any disease.