Thyme

Thyme

Thyme is one of the world's most beloved culinary herbs.  Due to its floral and earthy scent, this herb is a staple in many classic bread, soup and braising recipes.  Thyme is one of several herbs comprising the Herbes de Provence blend, and it accompanies Oregano and Savory in a spice condiment know as Za'atar in Middle Eastern Cuisine. 

The name "Thymus" was Greek for courage, but other sources say the name derived from the Greek term "to fumigate."  Thyme has been held in high regard throughout many societies and civilizations. Thyme was used as an incense at funerals and ceremonies, on Medieval battlefields, Egyptians embalmed with Thyme, and Thyme was burned to ward of insects in the households in Ancient Greece. Thyme has always played an important role in the kitchen.  Before refrigeration, Thyme helped slow the spoilage of meat and bread. 

Thyme is effective medicine.  The essential oil of Thymus vulgaris, contains 20-54% Thymol.  Thymol is a powerful and proven antiseptic.  There is a reason why Thymol is an active ingredient in many toothpastes, deodorants, and mouthwashes, including Listerine.  But Thymol is also an effective antifungal (athlete's foot, nail fungus), and scientists are researching it's anti-tumor properties.  Thyme leaves should be considered an ally next time a chest cold comes your way. Taken as an infusion or made into a syrup, the leaves are an expectorant and can help soothe uncontrollable coughs.

Family: Lamiaceae

Parts Used: Aerial part of plant

Actions: Warming, Drying, Antiseptic, Expectorant and Antispasmodic

Preparation: Tea, tincture, wash, syrup, vinegar

Medicinal Uses: Sore throat, acute bronchitis, asthma, ulcers, fungal infections, athletes foot, insect bites, expels worms

Cautions: Avoid high doses during pregnancy

Growing Thyme at Home:

Beginner gardeners, start with common thyme Thymus vulgaris before trying other species

If sowing from seed, plant in a pot first.  Use well drained soil and water daily until seeds germinate, about one week.

Once established, divide seedlings and plant in soil (mid-spring to early summer)

Plant Thyme in well drained soil, or perhaps on a hillside or slope. 

When watering, water at the base to prevent fungal diseases.

Thyme is considered a great companion plant, benefiting tomatoes, eggplant and potatoes.

The fragrant blossoms of Thyme attract honeybees