Herb thyme is one of my favourite herbs of all and I’d like to share with you its many fantastic benefits and medicinal uses, so you can confidently include it in your home dispensary and as a first aid for sore throat, hoarse voice, cough, viral or fungal infections.
Thyme (Thymus vulgaris) is one of the most cultivated of all herbs and it’s been used medicinally for thousands of years. This classic kitchen herb belongs to the Mint plant family, and there are a number of species, most of them are used in cooking. It’s a perennial, evergreen, low-lying aromatic herb with a woody root, medicinal parts are the leaves and flowers.
Beyond its common culinary applications, thyme has been used by herbalists for a myriad of conditions, based upon its antimicrobial, antitussive (prevention or relief of cough), spasmolytic (spasms relieving) and antioxidant activity.
Traditional and Empirical Use of Thyme
Thyme’s benefits and medicinal uses were recognised and documented early on by various medicine practitioners.
Thyme was used medicinally by Hippocrates (known as the father of medicine) over 4,000 years ago and later by the 1st century Greek physician Dioscorides, as a treatment for respiratory disorders. The ancient Romans Virgil (poet) and Pliny (scientist) mentioned thyme as a meat preservative.
It was used as an antiseptic during plagues such as the bubonic plague of the 14th century Europe. The renowned 2nd century Greek physician Galen recognised the antimicrobial properties of thyme and used it in treatment of musculoskeletal disorders, including joint disorders. Apparently, medieval anatomists named the lymph gland in the chest the ‘thymus’ because it reminded them of a thyme ﬂower!
Up until World War I, thyme (and in particular its main essential oil thymol) was widely used as an antiseptic. While thymol has largely been replaced by more potent antiseptics nowadays, it remains an ingredient in many products such as mouthwashes, including Listerine.
Benefits and Medicinal Uses of Thyme
Importantly, thyme is approved by The German Commission E in the treatment of bronchitis, whooping cough and upper respiratory inflammation.
Thyme has many amazing benefits and medicinal uses including:
- Antitussive, expectorant and antispasmodic actions are considered to be the major pharmacological properties of thyme.
- The essential oil of thyme is key for its antimicrobial activity. The main active antimicrobial components in the essential oil are thymol and carvacrol.
- The herb is preferred to the oil as it’s safer to use. The oil is toxic and should not be ingested and only applied externally if diluted in a suitable carrier oil.
- All ear, nose and throat problems – thyme tea with or without a spoonful of raw honey is an excellent home remedy including colds, sinus congestion, sore throat and tonsillitis. The tea can be used first as gargle and then swallowed. See the recipe below.
- Cough and bronchial infections – thyme is an excellent cough remedy, producing expectoration and reducing spasm. It’s also