|Thymus vulgaris Labiatae/ Lamiacae
COMMON/GARDEN THYME, THYME, RUBBED THYME
Botanical description: One of 70 or morespecies of thyme native to Europe. This species is from the Mediterranean but will grow fairly well in Northerly reaches. It reaches 10-30 cm and is a small shrub
Part used: Leaves and flowering tops
Habitat, cultivation and harvesting: Indigenous to France, Spain and Italy, cultivated across Europe and America. The related species Thymus serphyllum Mother of thyme grows wild throughout Europe on heaths moorlands and barren places. It is harvested during summer whilst flowering. Several croppings can be made. Various chemotypes or chemovars (cultivars with specific essential oil constituents) are grown for the extraction of essential oil and used for variable therapeutic applications in French herbal medicine- they include Thymus vulgaris ct. carvaacrol, ct. thymol, ct. linalool, ct. geraniol, ct. thujanol-4, ct. terpineol. Plants benefit from regular trimming otherwise they tend to become straggly
History/folklore/taste/energetics: There are many ornamental cultivars with variegated or silvery foliage and cultivars with different scents and flavours. The orange and lemon scented ones are particularly useful for cooking, but the ordinary type is the best for medicinal uses. Lemon scented thyme excellent for sauces or stuffing for chicken and orange scented varieties for using with duck. Thyme was traditionally burned in hospitals as a fumigant and can still be used in this way to clear the air both physically of germs and insects, and on an energetic level. Pungent, warm, drying and slightly bitter
Constituents: 1% essential oil, can be variable but normally contains monoterpenes, monoterpene alcohols, phenols, esters, oxides and sesquiterpenes; 10% tannins; Flavonoids – apigenin, luteolin
Actions: Carminative, Spasmolytic, Antitussive; Expectorant; Secretomotor effect; Bactericidal; Fungicidal; Antimicrobial; Vermifuge; Anti-oxidant (therefore anti-ageing); Antiputrescent; Capillary stimulant; Rubefacient; Mental stimulant and nervine; Cicatriscant; Diuretic
Traditional and current uses
Dyspepsia (painful indigestion), gastritis
Bronchitis, whooping cough, asthma and hayfever
Diarrhoea and worms in children
Laryngitis and tonsillitis, fresh leaves may be chewed for a sore throat or made into a tea and whole honey added. Also as a mouth wash for gum infections
Sprigs can be added to the bath to give an invigorating and immune boosting soak.
Relieves muscles spasm
Research indicates a strong antioxidant and tonic effect
Helps to raise the mood, good for anxiety and depression. Also general debility and fatigue
Acne and fungal skin infections
Traditionally used as a meat preservative
Low blood pressure and poor circulation
Topically as essential oil
Used to treat scabies, lice and fungal skin infections, including athlete’s foot and nail fungus
It’s warming action makes it useful in liniments and massage oils for arthritis. Rheumatism, stiff joints and tight muscles.
The essential oil will irritate the mucus membranes and cause dermal irritation if used in large doses, therefore limit dose and length of treatment. Best avoided in pregnancy, except for the linalool type which is safe in pregnancy and for infants.
Good added to bean stews and salads, or winter vegetable stews and roasted vegetables. It is also delicious added to rice. The flowers can be added to salads
200g mushrooms, finely chopped
1-2 cloves garlic finely minced
30 ml olive oil
A generous bunch of thyme (5-6 sprigs)
Pinch of sea salt
Black pepper to taste
Sauté mushrooms with the other ingredients until all the water is driven out. It is delicious on toast or crackers. It can also be stored in a jar in the fridge for a week and used as a substitute for stock powder in soups or stews.