thyme (thymus vulgaris)

One of your greatest herbal allies is thyme
Thyme prepares and protects against many infections that may occur, especially those of the respiratory tract during colder months

Thyme is a small, perennial bush which can grow 30-40cm high
It has dark green leaves, tiny purple flowers and a woody stem

There are many varieties of thyme but the common garden thyme is more aromatic than the ‘wild’ varieties such as lemon thyme

It is an easy plant to grow. I have discovered that in Springbrook, for example, thyme flourishes best planted in a pot instead of in the ground
Unless you have it planted in an exceptionally warm and well drained area, thyme will always suffer with too much water, particularly at those times when it can rain for weeks in temperate climates.

A thyme plant can provide not only a deliciously aromatic herb for cooking but also a powerful antiseptic herb for medicine
This is a good example of how you can use your food as medicine

Thyme can help to stimulate the appetite

When used in a meal high in fat it can help the liver and gallbladder so that fats are more easily digested

Thyme can be used to flavour your soups stews and marinades or add it to bread or savory scones

Medicinally its actions

  • antiseptic
  • tonic
  • anti-microbial
  • anti-spasmodic
  • expectorant
  • astringent
  • can be used for expelling intestinal parasites

Because of its high volatile oil content it stimulates the digestive tract

Thyme relaxes the stomach and helps to relieve gas and indigestion

Thyme contains a very powerful antiseptic called thymol
This makes it useful for the treatment of infected wounds and also for internal infections of the respiratory and digestive systems

To treat infected wounds or to clean wounds (anti-microbial, antiseptic and astringent action) before bandaging, bathe the affected area with an infusion of thyme

A thyme tea infusion can also be used internally for throat infections such as laryngitis and tonsillitis
It’s mild astringent properties make it useful in cases of childhood diarrhea.

When making an infusion with thyme add one teaspoon of dried herb or two of fresh herb and cover with a cup of boiling water
Allow to infuse for 10-15 minutes but cover the infusion and return any condensation from the lid back into the tea
This is where a lot of the volatile oils are contained. The same suggestion equally applies when cooking with thyme

A couple of drops of the essential oil of thyme can be added to a carrier oil and used to rub on the forehead and temples for the relief of headaches

Whenever a cough or cold appears in our house, I burn the essential oil of thyme in an oil burner to help prevent the condition becoming more complicated by infection (antiseptic action) and to ease coughing (anti-spasmodic, expectorant action) especially at night
Only use essential oils as these do not contain harmful chemicals

To make your own massage oil with thyme tightly pack a medium sized, clean jar with fresh thyme and cover with vegetable oil and seal. Leave standing for two weeks
Shake the jar regularly during this time
Strain and re-bottle in a dark clean jar
Use as required

Thyme oil can also be rubbed into the chest and back during coughs, colds and bronchitis
Make small amounts at a time so that it is always fresh

Thyme should not be used medicinally during pregnancy but is safe to use in cooking

With a pot of thyme growing at your doorstep you virtually have a herbal medicine chest at your fingertips.

If you are using thyme in your daily life, you are practising self help

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