12 Things About Thyme Leaves and Their Unique Uses

1) Thyme Leaves are From the Mint Family

thyme-leaves

Thyme is an herbaceous woody-based perennial that comes from the same mint family as other popular herb and spice varieties such as sage, oregano, rosemary, basil and lavender.

The thyme plant, with its very tiny oval-shaped leaves, has the smallest leaf size of all these herbs.

2) Thyme Species and Cultivars

There are more than 300 different types of thyme all coming from the main genus Thymus. The Thymus vulgaris species is the popular culinary favorite.

Top used cultivars from this species are English thyme, French thyme, garden thyme and common thyme.

3) Thyme Leaves, Symbol of Courage

3) Thyme Leaves, Symbol of Courage

Historically, ancient Greeks and Romans associated thyme with courage and bravery. Sprigs of thyme are alleged to have been worn by warriors and knights going into battle.

It was also burnt as a type of incense and used in Greek bathing rituals to bestow strength and valor.

4) Thyme and Its Main Active Compound

Like other culinary herbs with highly aromatic leaves, thyme also has medicinal attributes because of its essential oil constituents.

Thyme, in particular, is distinguished by its main volatile oil compound known as THYMOL. Thymol is present in other herbs but is the highest in the thyme plant.

Thyme leaves may also include a range of other components like carvacrol, linalool, gamma-terpineol, p-cymene, borneol and eucalyptol.

5) Thyme as a Sore Throat Folk Remedy

Thyme and its potent spicy flavor has been used in folk traditions for soothing a sore throat.

For centuries, herbalists have been infusing fresh thyme in honey, known as "thyme honey" which can be consumed straight or mixed into hot water or tea.

thyme-leaf-benefits

6) Thyme Leaves and the Thymus Gland

The genus term 'Thymus' is often thought to be where the thymus gland gets its name being a similar shape to a thyme leaf. (*) Some herbalists believe it may also help to support the glandular as well as the immune system.

This may be because it's rich in antioxidant flavonoids and/or phenols, like caffeic acid, rosmarinic acid, apigenin, luteolin, quercetin, thymonin and naringenin.

Thyme can be infused into vinegar to extract these valuable health-promoting components.

7) Thyme leaves Contain Mood Uplifting Compound

Another major active compound in thyme leaves is CARVACROL. A component also found in oregano, carvacrol has been studied for its mood-boosting potentials.

Next time you make a cup of tea, think about using fresh or dried thyme leaves instead as an herbal option. They have a pleasant uplifting minty flavor.

8) Thyme as a Sinus and Respiratory Aid

One of the age-old uses of thyme is as a respiratory aid. Consuming fresh or dried thyme tea, thyme honey, or using it in a respiratory herbal steam can help to clear the sinuses as well as phlegm from the lungs.

Useful for congestion and coughing, it can be used in herbal syrups or the mentioned thyme honey and kept on hand for such instances.

common-thyme-plant

9) Thyme and Its Antimicrobial Uses

Thyme is widely recognized for its strong antimicrobial properties. One of its traditional uses is in fact to help ward off intestinal parasites.

Seventeenth Century herbalist and physician Nicholas Culpeper writes in his herbal, "thyme kills worms in the belly." 

Assisting in general gut imbalances, it may also provide a positive influence when in recovery from a candida infection.

10) Thyme as an Antiseptic for Oral Hygiene

Like clove buds, thyme leaves are very antiseptic and beneficial for maintaining oral hygiene. Again, this is because of the main active ingredient thymol, a constituent that is in fact found in commercial mouthwashes, cough drops and vapor rubs.

Thyme teas or tooth powders can provide a DIY herbal alternative.

fresh-thyme-tea

11) Thyme for Food Preservation

Thyme leaves, and their high thymol content, have long been valued for their antibacterial and purifying properties.

Before modern refrigeration, thyme was sometimes utilized as a food preservative to offer protection from food spoilage.

It is still reported to be used today in the food industry for such purposes.

In ancient Egypt, it was likewise used in embalming practices.

12) Thyme and Its Use as a Culinary Spice

The herb thyme, either fresh or dried, is of course a commonly utilized culinary spice. Used in many dishes from stews to sauces and stuffing’s to salad dressings, thyme is a "long time" favorite in kitchens around the globe.

If you don't have fresh "thyme to spare", you can purchase high-quality dried organic thyme from suppliers like Mountain Rose Herbs, one of our personal favorites.

Precautions:

Therapeutic doses of thyme should not be used during lactation or pregnancy. It is always best to seek the advice of a qualified healthcare practitioner before using thyme for medicinal purposes if you have a serious health condition or are taking any medications.

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