Thyme

Thyme,thymus vulgaris
By Magnus Manske (Own work.) [GFDL (https://www.gnu.org/copyleft/fdl.html) or CC-BY-SA-3.0-2.5-2.0-1.0 (https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/3.0)], via Wikimedia Commons

Thymus vulgaris-Thyme

Family: Labiatae

Other names: Common Thyme, Garden Thyme

A comment has been made in one report on medicinal uses that the plant should be used with caution. No explanation was hazardsmallgiven. It quite possibly refers to overuse of the essential oil. All essential oils, since they are so concentrated, can be harmful in large doses. Avoid if inflammatory disease of the gastrointestinal tract. Internal use contraindicated especially in pregnancy. Caution if sensitive to grasses . Dilute oil in carrier oil before topical use.

Common thyme has a very long history of folk use for a wide range of ailments. It is very rich in essential oils and these are the active ingredients responsible for most of the medicinal properties. In particular, thyme is valued for its antiseptic and antioxidant properties, it is an excellent tonic and is used in treating respiratory diseases and a variety of other ailments. The flowering tops are anthelmintic, strongly antiseptic, antispasmodic, carminative, deodorant, diaphoretic, disinfectant, expectorant, sedative and tonic. The plant is used internally in the treatment of dry coughs, whooping cough, bronchitis, bronchial catarrh, asthma, laryngitis, indigestion, gastritis and diarrhoea and enuresis in children. It should not be prescribed for pregnant women. Externally, it is used in the treatment of tonsillitis, gum diseases, rheumatism, arthritis and fungal infections. The plant can be used fresh at any time of the year, or it can be harvested as it comes into flower and either be distilled for the oil or dried for later use. Thyme has an antioxidant effect, thus regular use of this herb improves the health and longevity of individual body cells and therefore prolongs the life of the body. The essential oil is strongly antiseptic. The whole herb is used in the treatment of digestive disorders, sore throats, fevers etc. The essential oil is one of the most important oils used in aromatherapy. Its keyword is ‘Bacterial’. It is used especially in cases of exhaustion, depression, upper respiratory tract infections, skin and scalp complaints etc. The oil can cause allergic reactions and irritation to the skin and mucous membranes.

Thyme,thymus vulgaris
By Magnus Manske (Own work.) [GFDL (https://www.gnu.org/copyleft/fdl.html) or CC-BY-SA-3.0-2.5-2.0-1.0 (https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/3.0)], via Wikimedia Commons
Habitat: Thyme is indigenous to the Mediterranean region, and cultivated widely.

Collection: The flowering branches should be collected between June and August on a dry sunny day. The leaves are stripped off the dried branches.

Description of Thyme:

Thymus vulgaris is an evergreen Shrub growing to 0.2 m (0ft 8in) by 0.3 m (1ft). 
It is hardy to zone 7 and is not frost tender. It is in leaf 12-Jan It is in flower from Jun to August. The flowers are hermaphrodite (have both male and female organs) and are pollinated by Bees, flies, lepidoptera.It is noted for attracting wildlife. 

Suitable for: light (sandy) and medium (loamy) soils, prefers well-drained soil and can grow in nutritionally poor soil. Suitable pH: neutral and basic (alkaline) soils. Needs full sun. It prefers dry or moist soil. The plant can tolerates strong winds but not maritime exposure.

Cultivation of Thyme:

Prefers a light, dry calcareous soil and a sunny position. Succeeds in dry soils, poor soils and tolerates drought once it is established. Plants can be grown on old walls. Thymes dislike wet conditions, especially in the winter. A layer of gravel on the soil around them will help protect the foliage from wet soils. Thyme is hardy to about -15°c, though it is even hardier when grown on old walls are in well-drained poor light soils. Thyme is commonly grown in the herb garden, there are many named varieties. It is also harvested commercially for its essential oil. The leaves are very aromatic. It is sometimes grown as an annual from seed when used for culinary purposes. The flowers are rich in nectar and are very attractive to honey bees. This is a very difficult genus taxonomically, the species hybridize freely with each other and often intergrade into each other.

Companion plant:

Thyme is a good companion for most plants, it is said to repel cabbage root flies when grown near brassicas.

Propagation of Thyme:

Seed – sow spring in a cold frame. Seed can also be sown in autumn in a greenhouse. Surface sow or barely cover the seed. Germination can be erratic. When they are large enough to handle, prick the seedlings out into individual pots and grow them on in the greenhouse for at least their first winter. Plant them out into their permanent positions in late spring or early summer, after the last expected frosts. The seed can keep for three years in normal storage. Division in spring or autumn. Larger divisions can be planted out direct into their permanent positions. We have found that it is best to pot up smaller divisions and grow them on in light shade in a greenhouse or cold frame until they are growing away well. Plant them out in the summer or the following spring. Cuttings of young shoots, 5 – 8cm with a heel, May/June in a frame. Cuttings of half-ripe wood, 5 – 8cm with a heel, July/August in a frame. Layering.

thyme,Thymus_vulgaris
Common Thyme – photo en:User:MPF. Copied from English Wikipedia.

Culinary uses of Thyme:

Edible Parts: Leaves.
Edible Uses: Condiment;  Tea.

Leaves and flowering tops – raw in salads, used as a garnish or added as a flavouring to cooked foods, going especially well with mushrooms and courgettes. It is an essential ingredient of the herb mix ‘bouquet garni’. It retains its flavour well in long slow cooking. The leaves can be used either fresh or dried. If the leaves are to be dried, the plants should be harvested in early and late summer just before the flowers open and the leaves should be dried quickly. A nutritional analysis is available. An aromatic tea is made from the fresh or dried leaves. Pungent and spicy.

Composition:

Figures in grams (g) or miligrams (mg) per 100g of food.

Leaves (Dry weight)

  • 276 Calories per 100g
  • Water : 7.8%
  • Protein: 9.1g; Fat: 7.4g; Carbohydrate: 63.9g; Fibre: 18.6g; Ash: 11.7g;
  • Minerals – Calcium: 1890mg; Phosphorus: 201mg; Iron: 123.6mg; Magnesium: 220mg; Sodium: 55mg; Potassium: 814mg; Zinc: 6.2mg;
  • Vitamins – A: 3800mg; Thiamine (B1): 0.51mg; Riboflavin (B2): 0.4mg; Niacin: 4.94mg; B6: 0mg; C: 0mg;
Thymus_Vulgaris,thymeMedicinal uses of Thyme:

Actions: Carminative, anti-microbial, anti-spasmodic, expectorant, astringent, anthelmintic.

Part Used: Leaves and flowering tops.  

Indications: With its high content of volatile oil, Thyme makes a good carminative for use in dyspepsia and sluggish digestion. This oil is also a strongly antiseptic substance, which explains many of Thyme’s uses. It can be used externally as a lotion for infected wounds, but also internally for respiratory and digestive infections. It may be use as a gargle in laryngitis and tonsillitis, easing sore throats and soothing irritable coughs. It is an excellent cough remedy, producing expectoration and reducing unnecessary spasm. It may be used in bronchitiswhooping cough and asthma. As a gentle astringent it has found use in childhood diarrhea and bed wetting.

Kings’ Dispensatory describes it thus: “Thyme is tonic, carminative emmenagogue and anti-spasmodic. The cold infusion is useful in dyspepsia, with weak and irritable stomach and as a stimulating tonic in convalescence from exhausting diseases. The warm infusion is beneficial in hysteriadysmenorrheaflatulencecolic,headache, and to promote perspiration. Occasionally the leaves have been used externally, in fomentation. The oil is valuable as a local application to neuralgic and rheumatic pains; and, internally, to fulfill any of the indications for which the plant is used. Dose of the infusion, from 1 to 3 fluid ounces; of the oil, from 2 to 10 drops on sugar, or in emulsion. Thyme, skullcap and rue of each 2 ounces; peony and black cohosh, of each, 1 ounce; macerated for 14 days in diluted alcohol, and then filtered, forms a good preparation for nervous and spasmodic diseases of children. It may be given in teaspoonful doses to a child 3 years old, repeating it 3 or 4 times a day, sweetening and diluting it, if desired. A strong infusion of the Thymusserpyllus, slightly sweetened and mixed with gum Arabic, is stated by M. Joset to be a valuable remedy for whooping-cough, convulsive and catarrhal coughs and stridulous sore throat, the favorable result occurring at the end of a very few days. It may be taken ad libitum.” Combinations: For asthmatic problems it will combine well with Lobelia and Ephedra, adding its anti-microbial effect. For whooping cough use it with Wild Cherry and Sundew.

Preparations & Dosage:

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

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

Other uses of Thyme:

Deodorant,  Disinfectant,  Essential,  Fungicide,  Pot-pourri,  Repellent.

An essential oil from the leaves is frequently used in perfumery, soaps, toothpastes, mouthwashes, medicinally etc. It has fungicidal properties and is also used to prevent mildew. The leaves are dried and used in pot-pourri. The plant makes an attractive ground cover for a sunny position. Plants are best spaced about 30cm apart each way. The dried flowers are used to repel moths from clothing whilst the growing plant is said to repel cabbage root fly.

wild thyme fairyEsoteric uses of Thyme:

Attracts loyalty, affection, and the good opinion of others. Wear a sprig to ward off unbearable grief or provide strength and courage when needed. Burn or hang in the home for banishing, purification, and to attract good health for all occupants. Use in cleansing baths prior to working candle magick. Use in dream pillows to ward off nightmares and ensure restful sleep. Add a thyme infusion to the bath regularly to ensure a constant flow of money. Place in a jar and keep in the home or at work for good luck.

The Chemistry:

Constituents:

  • Volatile oil, of highly variable composition; the major constituent is thymol, with lesser amounts of carvacrol, with l, 8-cineole, borneol, geraniol, linalool, bornyl and linalyl acetate, thymol methyl etherand [[alpha]]-pinene.
  • Flavonoids; apigenin, luteolin, thymonin, naringenin and others
  • Miscellaneous; labiatic acid, caffeic acid, tannins etc.