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A Little Bit About Thyme

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Botanical Name of Thyme: Thymus vulgaris.

Other Common Names: English fresh, summer, German winter, narrow-leafed French, Greek gray, broad leaf English and garden thyme, mother of thyme.
Family Name: Lamiaceae
Ayurvedic/ TCM Name: Bai Li Xiang

Meridians: Lungs, Spleen and Stomach.

Key TCM Actions & Medicinal Uses: Tonify Qi: shortness of breath, coughs, pale complexion, depression. Tonify and Warm Lungs: white phlegm cough, chills, fever, tuberculosis, asthma. Release to the Exterior: cause sweating to ease muscle pain, chills, fatigue, rheumatism. Tonify Spleen: for Spleen Yang Deficiency Syndromes: wet watery diarrhea, colic, nausea, menstrual cramping. Tonify Wei Qi and Support Immunity: colds, skin infections and irritations, pussy wounds, parasites.

Habitat: Thyme originated in the Mediterranean area. Since then, it has been adapted to many different climates around the world.

The first colonists brought it to North America where it was used as a food preservative and as a medicinal herb.

Plant Description: The plant grows numerous stems which are hard, branched and procumbent. They grow from 4 inches to 1 foot high. The thyme stem is ordinarily a reddish-brown in colour. Its bright green oval leaves, typically 1/8 inch broad and tapering below into very short foot-stalks, are smooth and contain numerous small glands. The flowers are pink and bloom during the summer months. The thyme root is woody and fibrous.

Plant Parts Used: Only the leaves and the flowering tops. While it can be harvested at any time, it is best to harvest the leaves just as the flowers begin to bloom.

Constituents of Garden Thyme: thymol, flavonoids luteolin, apigenin, thymonin naringenin, Tannins, Bitters, Saponins, Resins.

Constituents of Wild Thyme: volatile oil (thymol, carvacrol, linalool), flavonoids, caffeic acid, tannins, resin

Organs & Systems Affected, Intestines, uterus, central nervous system, gastrointestinal system, respiratory system. Adrenals

Works Well With: Thyme combines particularly well with Elder flower for clearing infections from the head and throat, with Chamomile to ease pain and inflammation, and with Mullein and White horehound for bad coughs or lung troubles. Wild Thyme Combines well with tincture of Myrrh for an infectious sore throat

Taste: Pungent, Bitter, Sweet

Energy Dry, Warm


The history of thyme being in use as both a seasoning and a medicinal herb, goes back more than 3000 years. Archaeologists have found ancient writings in Egypt discussing the use of it and it has been identified as one of the ingredients used in mummification. Ancient Greeks considered it a symbol of style, elegance, and courage, and they used it as an incense to cleanse holy areas. In Ancient Rome it was prized for its medicinal qualities and was used in the treatment of many ailments. It was also used by the Romans to “purify” their rooms. In Europe, during the Middle Ages, thyme was grown in monasteries for use as a cough medicine, a remedy for intestinal parasites and as a digestive aid. Thyme was also burnt on hospital wards during the Victorian era, along with Rosemary, to help in the prevention of the spread of diseases.

The origin of the word thyme probably goes back to either the Greek word, “thumus” which means “courage”, or from the Greek word “thymos” meaning “to perfume”. Thyme has been used as an herbal remedy against fungal infections like athlete’s foot and as a remedy for oral Candida (thrush) and other yeast infections. It is also used to kill skin parasites such as crabs or head lice and internal parasites such as worms in the intestines, As well as a natural mosquito repellent. Additionally it is thought to be beneficial for coughs and sore throat related to colds and flu as well as whooping cough. This is because the active constituents of thyme are known to loosen and expel mucous. Some clinical trials have been conducted and confirm the effectiveness of thyme in treating bronchitis. Traditionally the herb has been used to treat anemia, fever, intestinal problems and as an herbal remedy for halitosis. Thyme is thought to be good for colic, flatulence as well as an herbal hangover remedy.

Recent studies have also suggested that it may be helpful in the prevention of blood clots. The essential oil of thyme is one of the most important oils in aromatherapy. It is used to boost the mind, spirit, and body. The vapor from the essential oil is used to treat exhaustion, headaches, and depression as well as upper respiratory complaints, skin and scalp irritations and to prevent warts. The essential oil is used in commercial toothpastes, mouthwashes and in a number of liniments and creams used in the topical treatment of arthritis, gout and rheumatism.


Garden Thyme
Anti-bacterial, Expectorant, Antioxidants. Antiseptic, Anti-fungal, Diaphoretic, Tonic, Carminative, Diuretic, Restorative, Anti-inflammatory, Anti-spasmodic, Anti-diarrhoeals, Antiviral, Anti-parasitic, Anti-cough,
Wild Thyme
Actions similar to those of Garden thyme, but less potent than the essential oil. Antitussive, Anthelmintic, Mild Sedative, Anti-candida

Safety; Thyme may be too strong for many people externally, so caution is advised. Some people have demonstrated sensitivity to the essential oil, so patch tests are appropriate. The herb is often recommended by herbalists for the aid of children, however, it should not be given to children unless as prescribed by a professional. Although it is safe to use thyme as a seasoning during pregnancy, high dosages should be avoided since it is a uterine stimulant.


Bartrams Encyclopedia of Herbal Medicine

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