Thyme (Thyme vulgaris) is a short perennial shrub that belongs to the Lamiaceae family, and is native to the arid regions of the Mediterranean area.
Used as an aromatic herb in our diets since the Roman empire, this fine herb is particularly appreciated in Italian and Southern French cooking, and appears in innumerable pharmaceutical preparations where its many health benefits are shared best.
- In the vegetable patch: how to grow thyme
Health benefits of thyme
- With high levels of fibers, vitamins and minerals, thyme is a fine herb that can contribute a fair share of antioxidants in our diet and help fight against cardiovascular diseases, various cancers and diseases related to ageing.
- Antispasmodic and invigorating, thyme helps digestion and soothes intestinal dysfunction such as diarrhea, bloating and flatulence. It is also an excellent deworming agent.
- Thyme activates detoxification: it stimulates sweating and diuresis, helps eliminate toxins (in case of flu, rheumatism and overeating especially).
- Thyme has sedative activity that is effective against cough and alleviates many respiratory pathologies (flu, pertussis, bronchitis or pleurisy). It is also used for asthma and hay fever.
- Thyme is recommended in case of physical and psychological exhaustion, it stimulates the intellect and acts as a tonic when tired. Infusions (1 oz (30 g) for 1 quart (1 liter) boiling water) after meals will help you win over post-meal drowsiness.
- External use includes thyme baths (1 lbs (500 g) of thyme boiled in a couple quarts or liters of water, added to the bath water) which are known to reduce pain due to arthritis and rheumatism.
- Gargling thyme soothes mouth inflammations: cavities, sensitive gums, canker sores, etc. It works like an excellent toothpaste that reinforces gums, “disinfects” bad breath and prevents cavity formation.
- Thyme decoctions (3.5 oz (100 g) thyme for 1 quart (1 liter) water, boiled back to half its volume) are used as capillary lotions, to tone the scalp, or as a compress to speed wound-healing.
Does the variety influence health benefits?
Good to know: these benefits don’t depend on the variety. Lemon thyme (shown below) will help the same way common thyme will, for instance.
What matters most is the age of the thyme bush: older thyme tends to have deeper roots. This helps the plant find nutrients that aren’t as common on the surface, and makes them more potent.
Growing thyme for its health benefits
Thyme loves well drained garden boxes that are filled with one part sand and one part soil mix.
- Vegetable patch: how to grow thyme
Cooking thyme to benefit from its healthy properties
Thyme is of course part of the bouquet garni (together with a few strands of parsley and a branch of bay) that flavors a great many culinary preparations.
It is marvelous when spicing tomatoes and zucchini, pasta, cottage cheese or goat cheese, soup, poultry and eggs.
Thyme also gives a distinctive taste to roasted meat in the oven or on the barbecue.