Common Names: Garden Thyme, Mother of Thyme, subspecies include: Lemon Thyme, Basil Thyme, Caraway Thyme, Orange Thyme, Silver Thyme, Variegated Thyme, etc.
Botanical Name: Thymus vulgaris, T. serpyllum
Plant Family: Lamiaceae, Mint Family
Parts Used: Whole Herbaceous parts
Actions: Antiseptic, antispasmodic, expectorant, digestive tonic, carminative, parasiticide
Habitat: Thyme is native to southern Europe and the Mediterranean. Wild thyme grows in hard rocky soils. Garden thyme has so many different varieties and, for that matter, is quite adaptable. It’s an easy to grow hardy perennial that is found in most herb gardens. It prefers sunny, well drained growing conditions.
Collection: Like a lot of my hardy culinary herbs, I harvest them fresh whenever I need them for cooking (thank goodness for the temperate pacific northwest). Yet it if were going to collect Thyme for medicinal purposes I gather the herb with its flowering branches between June and August. And I will harvest the leaves in the late summer, early fall.
Internally: This strong antimicrobial helps fight off various bacterial infections. It helps with mouth and gum infections, fungal infections, vaginal infections and also digestive and respiratory infections. Gargle with thyme to soothe a mouth infection or even a sore throat. Thyme’s ability to inhibit pathogens may be underestimated. My favorite N.D. Aviva Romm recommends Thyme as a vaginal suppository for Group B Streptococcus in late stages of pregnancy. This common herb can be used for laryngitis, tonsillitis, bronchitis, whooping cough and asthma.
Externally: An oil infusion or lotion with thyme can be applied externally on infected wounds.
Coughs and Congestion
Historically thyme’s main use is for treating coughs. Currently, essential oil trends have re-popularized thyme’s aromatic oils for the same purpose. I prefer fresh or dried plant (taking an actual herb) to treat coughs or chest complaints. Studies by Dr. Paul Lee, a professor at U.C. Santa Cruz, found that thyme has a major effect on strengthening the thymus gland, which enhances the immune system. His study showed thyme’s positive effect on the glandular system as a whole.
Yet another aromatic carminative! Thyme is a digestive aid that can calm nausea, gas, bloating and flatulence. Its antispasmodic effects help rid digestive spasms induced by diarrhea or irritable bowel syndrome (IBS). Most culinary herbs help with digestion; hence we add them to our meals…
SAFETY FACTOR: Do not use Thyme during pregnancy. It is a uterine stimulant.
Uses for Thyme: Herbal spice for culinary purposes, tincture, tea, Vinegar, honey, oil, essential oil (salves, lotions, baths)
By Rosemary Gladstar
- Fill a widemouthed glass jar half full of fresh thyme leaves and flowers.
- Gently warm a batch of raw, unpasteurized honey, so that it will better extract the properties of thyme.
- DO NOT OVERHEAT OR BOIL HONEY; heat over 110 degrees Fahrenheit will kill the honey's enzymes and destroy its medicinal benefit.
- Add enough honey to the jar to cover the herbs, and place the jar in a warm spot.
- When the honey tastes and smells strongly of thyme, it's finished.
- You can leave the thyme leaves in the honey, or strain them out.
- Bottle and store in a cool pantry.
To Use: Use by the spoonful. Enjoy this delicious thyme honey by itself, or use it to sweeten teas for additional medicinal benefits.
The New Holistic Herbal by David Hoffman
Botanical Medicine for Women’s Health by Aviva Romm
Thyme Article by Henriette Kress
Thyme; Featured Herb by Rosalee de la Forêt
Medicinal Herbs; A Beginner’s Guide by Rosemary Gladstar