Thyme

Thymus vulgaris, Labiatae.

The leaves and flowering tops are the parts of the plant used.

The flowering branches are collected in summer on a dry sunny day. The leaves are stripped off the dried branches.

Functions of thyme

Thyme:

  • is a powerful antiseptic which can be used both internally and externally. It enhances the immune system's fight against bacterial, viral and fungal infections. It is useful in colds, flu, gastroenteritis, candida, cystitis, and salpingitis.
  • has a relaxation effect on the bronchial tubes which helps in asthma, bronchitis and whooping cough. Its expectorant action increases the production of fluid mucous and helps shift phlegm.
  • can also be used with good effect in the digestive tract, for wind, colic and irritable bowel syndrome. Its astringent and antiseptic qualities makes it useful in cases of diarrhea and its causes.
  • also acts as a liver cleanser.
  • may be used as a gargle in laryngitis and tonsillitis, easing sore throats and soothing irritable coughs.
  • can be used externally as a lotion for infected wounds.

Notes on thyme

  • Thymol (the oils from thyme) is the antiseptic used in the commercially available mouth wash Listerine.
  • Small amounts used in cooking are generally safe but do not take internally in medicinal doses during pregnancy or if you have liver or kidney disease.

Dosages

Infusion: pour a cup of boiling water onto 2 teaspoonsful of the dried herb and leave to infuse for 10 minutes. This should be drunk three times per day.

Tincture: take 2-4 ml of the tincture three times per day.

For the gardener

There are many different kinds of thyme (lemon scented, cinnamon scented and so forth) but they all need basically the same growing conditions.

Thyme is a perennial and becomes the most aromatic in poor rocky soil. The herb can be grown from seed, seedling or subdivisions.

  • If you are growing them from seed plant them in rows 18 to 36 inches (45 to 90 cm) apart, covered by a small amount of fine soil. They should germinate in 2 - 3 weeks.
  • If you are growing seedlings plant them 6 to 24 inches (15 to 60 cm) apart in rows 36 inches (90cm) apart.
  • Established plants can be subdivided by root division, cuttings or layering (this is where an aerial shoot is scrapped or nicked with a knife and this scrapped section is placed against the soil and weighted down. This part will then send down roots. After this has happened this new plant can be removed from the mother plant and transplanted to another area). Plants need to be subdivided every 2 - 3 years so they don't become woody.

References

Duke, J. A. 2000, Anti-aging Prescriptions. Rodale.

Hoffmann, D. 2000, The New Holistic Herbal. Element Pub.

Hoffmann, F. and Manning M. 2002, Herbal Medicine and Botanical Medical Fads. The Haworth Press.

McIntyre, A. 1995, The Complete Women's Herbal. Henry Holt Reference Books.

Mills, S. Y. 1989, The A-Z of Modern Herbalism: A Comprehensive Guide to Practical Herbal Therapy. Thorson.

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