- Thymus vulgaris L.
- Mint family
Parts Usually Used
Berries, fruits, leaves, and flowers
Description of Plant(s) and Culture
Thyme has numerous woody stems 6-10 inches high, covered in fine
hair, and flattish round leaves, growing in pairs. The flowers, small
bluish-purple, two-lipped, are borne in whorled in dense, head-like
clusters, blooming fro May to September, like the rest of the plant,
are heavily scented.
This herb has been cultivated for centuries for both medicine and
cookery. There are many varieties of thyme from ground covers to shrubby
plants a foot or more high: creeping thyme (T. praecox), lemon thyme
(T. citriodorus), orange blossom thyme (T x citriodorus orange blossom),
(T. glabrescens), (T. mastichina), mother-of-thyme (T. praecox subsp.
arcticus), woolly thyme (T. psudolanuginosus), wild thyme (T. serpyllum),
argenteus, aureus, T. herba-barona, Spanish thyme (T. zygis), etc.
All thymes require full sun and fairly dry, light, well-drained soil.
Basil thyme (Acinos thymoides). Thyme tends to rob the soil of nutrients.
Thyme grows wild on dry banks and heaths. Grows wild on hillsides
in Greece and throughout the Mediterranean, Europe and the British
Anthelmitic, antispasmodic, carminative, diaphoretic, expectorant,
Borneol, cavacrol, fluorine, gum, trace minerals, bitter principle,
saponins, flavonoids, essential oils, tannins, triterpenic acids,
and vitamins B-complex, C, and D.
Legends, Myths and Stories
An oil in thyme was once a standard ingredient of most antiseptic
lotions and commercial disinfectants, mouthwashes and toothpastes.
Around 3000 BC the Sumerians were using it as a medicinal ingredient,
and the Egyptians included it among the herbs and spices used in mummification.
The Greeks used thyme as a temple incense (the word thyme comes from
a Greek word meaning "to fumigate", and both they and the Romans praised
its healing virtues. During the Middle Ages thyme was considered a
symbol of courage, and knights rode into battle wearing scarves on
which their ladies had embroidered sprigs of the herb.
A Biblical association with thyme is the Christ-child's manger, Christian
tradition holds with good cause that thyme was among the 3 or 4 herbs
upon which Mary and the Child bedded in Bethlehem of Judea, and so
it has become an herb to be in the gardens of churches and monasteries.
Used for sinusitis and asthma.
Eliminates gas and reduces fever,
mucus, and headaches. Good
for chronic respiratory problems, colds,
whooping cough, and sore throat.
Lowers cholesterol levels.
Good to relieve coughs, and whooping cough. Externally, helps sprains
A poultice can be made from the leaves of thyme that will combat
all forms of inflammation
Effective against hookworms.
Rub the extract between the toes daily for athlete's
foot. Used externally, the extract can be used daily for crabs,
lice, and scabies.
Taken internally by standard infusion, thyme is a first-rate digestive,
febrifuge and liver
tonic. Anti-spasmodic and nervine, it is held to cure a wide range
of psychological disorders, even insanity. Hysteria, halitosis
and assorted female ailments, especially mastitis, loss
Thyme baths are said to be helpful for neurastenia, rheumatic
problems,, paralysis, bruises, swellings, and sprains. The salve
made from thyme can be used for shingles.
Thyme can repel insects and moths. It is said to aid the growth of
eggplant, tomatoes, and potatoes when planted nearby in the garden.
Thyme is a favorite of bees.
Formulas or Dosages
Infusion: steep 1/2 tsp. fresh herb or 1 tsp. dried herb in
1/2 cup water for 3 to 5 minutes. Take 1 to 1 1/2 cups per day, a
mouthful at a time.
Oil: take 10-20 drops, 3 times per day.
Bath additive: make a strong decoction and add to the bath
Sold commercially as a spice.
Use sparingly. Do not make a habit of using thyme.
Avoid therapeutic doses of thyme and thyme oil in any form during
pregnancy because the herb is a uterine stimulant.
Thyme oil can irritate mucous membranes. Always dilute it well if
Excessive internal use of thyme can lead to symptoms of poisoning
and to overstimulation of the thyroid gland. Use caution.