Winter Medicine Chest: Thyme
With winter in full swing across the country, and flu making it’s rounds, what better time to explore the medicinal benefits of common herbs.
A common herb found on many spice racks due to its distinctive taste, thyme is fast gaining recognition for its medicinal uses as well.
A member of the mint family and originating in the Mediterranean, thyme has over 400 varieties, each with it’s own distinctive oil composition. It’s popularity in aromatherapy bears testimony to its potency, and as such (as with all natural remedies) should be used with caution and care.
Thyme for the benefits
The essential oils derived from thyme are bursting with anti-septic, anti-viral, anti-rheumatic, anti-parasitic and anti-fungal properties, which explains why thyme-based remedies are used as an expectorant, diuretic, fungicide and antibiotic.
Thyme is an excellent detoxifier (great for the liver!) and expectorant (for those winter chest colds), as well as being an all-round immune booster as a result of its high concentrations of vitamins A and C, and can be effective in the treatment of respiratory and digestive infections.
It’s relaxing effects on the muscles in the bronchi (hello, antispasmodic!) can help ease respiratory complaints ranging from asthma, bronchitis and whooping cough. If you’ve got a stuffy nose or a sinus infection, inhalation therapy with thyme can work wonders.
The aromatic and fragrant properties of thyme have also been known to improve mood, and therefore are useful in treating stress, anxiety and depression, as well as insomnia.
Thyme oil is used as a germ-killer in mouthwashes and liniments.
Infusions of thyme have also been useful in soothing and healing muscle spasms and skin irritations.
A true friend to any gardener, thyme’s strong aroma and plentiful blooms attract bees to any garden, helping to pollinate it and other plants.
Thyme comes in both bush (growing to about 15 inches tall) and creeping varieties (which make a great ground cover), and has flowers ranging from purple to white.
Thyme grows best in a warm, sunny area with good drainage. After your plants have flowered, its good to trim the plants back a bit to prevent them from becoming woody. To encourage growth, ensure that you prune frequently, especially during the summer months when the plants will grow vigorously.
Thyme leaves dry easily and also freeze well for later use.
Tea Thyme Remedy:
Steep 1 teaspoon dried thyme leaf in a cup of hot water
Cover the cup with a saucer so that the important volatile oils do not evaporate
Strain and add honey to taste
Honey complements the expectorant action of thyme by coating the back of the throat
Drink a cup of tea several times daily for coughs
As with all natural remedies, caution is advised. If you are unsure or are currently being treated by a medical professional for any condition, please consult with your doctor before beginning any herbal treatments.