Thyme (Thymus vulgaris)

This wonderfully aromatic culinary herb is native to the sunny, rocky areas of the Mediterranean. Once while hiking El Camino de Santiago in northern Spain with my mother who had a bad cough, an elderly lady offered us a handful of thyme. She recommended we use it in a tea or soup for her cough. Once we could get to some hot water she did make the tea and her cough improved dramatically.

Modern studies have verified that thyme reduces meat spoilage and has anti-microbial properties. Long used by herbalists for coughs, bronchitis, and asthma; studies show that thyme has expectorant properties as well as antispasmodic effects on smooth muscle. This helps the body clear respiratory mucous while calming the muscle spasms of cough and inhibits the infecting microbes growth.

Thyme's properties make it an excellent mouthwash for sore throat and infected gums. It is the leading ingredient in the popular mouthwash Listerine.

With the ZIka virus issues developing, you can use thyme to kill mosquito larvae and repel mosquitos. I have sprayed myself and my goat with Listerine to repel our garden mosquitos. Thyme also has impressive astringent tannin properties that crosslink on skin. This helps protect against fungi such as athlete's foot and reduces acne bacteria better than benzoyl peroxide. I have not seen a study using Listerine for acne but it would probably work.

Although native to sunny Mediterranean areas thyme is easily grown in home garden pots. The flowers and leaves are used for teas, steam baths, and topical applications. The essential oil is also used for topical applications or steam baths but sparingly (1-2 drops in 6-8 ounces of carrier oil or water) as it is very strong and not recommended to be taken internally.

Thyme may slow blood clotting so it is recommended to stop it 2 w before any surgery and to avoid use with prescription blood thinners.

Dr. Rose