Thyme (Thymus Vulgaris)
A garden herb. There are about a hundred varieties of thyme, but the most common ones are lemon thyme, Caraway thyme, and Common thyme. Thyme tea can help alleviate an asthma attack.
Thyme is a commonly used culinary herb. It is one of the components of Bouquet Garni (French for Garnished Bouquet) - which is actually a bunch of herbs strung together, mainly for preparation of soups, stock, broth, and stews. Bouquet garni is normally tied together, so that it is easily removed once the dish is cooked. Bouquet Garni normally consists of thyme, parsley, and bay leaves. But some cooks like to also add a combination of basil, rosemary, carrots, leeks, and onions.
2 teaspoons of thyme (about 3 gms) has vitamin K (60 per cent of RDA), iron (20 per cent of RDA), manganese (10 per cent of RDA), and calcium (5 per cent of RDA). Apart from the the common vitamins and minerals, thyme has volatile oil components that researchers are discovering many health benefits. These volatile oil components are: carvacolo, borneol, geraniol, and thymol.
Thymol is the primary volatile oil components of the thyme herb - and research tests on mice have shown that thymol can protect and increase healthy fats in cell membranes and cell structures.
These volatile oil components also exhibit anti-bacterial and anti-fungal properties against Staphalococcus aureus, Bacillus subtilis, E. coli and Shigella sonnei. Shigella sonnei is a bacteria that causes diarrhea. Washing vegetables and fruits with just 1 per cent of thymol essential oil added to the wash, dropped the number of Shigella bacteria below detection point. Scientists are now trying to develop natural food preservatives based on thyme essential oils.
Thyme is often used to flavour meats, soups, broths, and stews. But apart from its culinary uses, you can also steep thyme leaves in hot water, and it makes a refreshing herbal tea.
Thyme tea has been used to alleviate menstrual cramps, and PMS symptoms. Thyme tea has also been known to be helpful for stomach upsets, coughs, and fevers.
Allergic reaction to thyme is unlikely. But if alergic reactions start to show (eg. rash, itching, red spots, swelling, dizziness, difficulty in breathing), discontinue consumption, and seek medical attention immediately.
Selection and Storage
Fresh thyme is recommended over dried thyme due to its better flavour.
Store dried thyme in an air-tight container (preferably a glass bottle or container) away from the sun. It should be kept in a cool and dry location.
You should store fresh thyme in the refrigerator (wrapped in a lightly moistened paper towel).
When used for cooking, thyme should be added when the dish is almost cooked, as this will bring out the best of its aromatic qualities. This is due to thyme being heat-sensitive, and prolonged exposure to high heat will kill thyme's delicate flavour.
10 Health Benefits of Thyme
Thyme is a common herb, used often on roasted vegetables and meats as well as in soups and stews. But did you know besides its taste, thyme also has health benefits?
- Mouthwash: The herb thyme contains a natural oil known as thymus vulgaris, which is at least 25 percent thymol, a natural antiseptic. In other words, thyme contains a pretty strong natural antiseptic. So, if you’re in need of a clean mouth but don’t have any mouthwash from the store, look to see if you’ve got some thyme in your kitchen cupboards. If so, chew a little of the thyme. It will help to cleanse your mouth and rid it of germs. Thymol is even one of the ingredients in Listerine.
- Antioxidants: Thyme also contains flavonoids, natural antioxidants. And what do antioxidants do? They work through the bloodstream to help the body’s cells heal themselves from internal damage. Antioxidants can be important in helping to prevent heart disease and possibly even some forms of cancer.
- Blood pressure: Thyme has its fair share of potassium, too. And potassium is good for the bloodstream and the blood pressure. Potassium helps the body to control the heart rate, and it also helps to cleanse the bloodstream of detrimental materials.
- Wounds: Because of its natural abilities as an antiseptic, thyme is known to be good for cleansing minor wounds, such as small cuts and the like. The thymol in thyme helps to prevent bacteria from growing on and within wounds, and acts to help prevent infection.
- Coughing: The thymol in thyme is not only a great natural antiseptic, but it’s also a great expectorant. What does that mean? It means thyme is good for helping to ease coughs and the pains sometimes associated with coughing. Try brewing a little thyme in hot water, a thyme tea if you will, and gargling it for a few minutes. This not only helps with coughs, but can aid in easing a sore throat.
- Digestion: There is also a fair amount of fiber in thyme, making this herb an excellent choice when suffering from stomach and bowel troubles. Try a little time if you are having minor stomach cramps or are suffering from diarrhea or constipation. But if your problems worsen or continue for more than a short amount of time, always remember to go see a doctor.
- Diuretic: Thyme can naturally urge your body to shed excess fluid and some sodium and toxins. Sodium makes the body hold fluid, while a diuretic helps to body to get rid of extra fluid. Extra fluid can be rough on the heart, in severe cases even leading to congestive heart disease. Thyme as a diuretic would likely work best in a tea or oil form.
- Cleaning: Using thyme to make a tea, then pouring the tea into a spray bottle and using it as a cleaning product is a good way to destroy mildew and other bacterias. Remember all that thymol in thyme? That’s what does the cleaning job.
- Menstrual cramps: Thyme is also a natural antispasmodic, which means it has the ability to help with menstrual cramps and the pains caused by such.
- Ringworm: Thyme is known as a killer of parasitic intestinal worms, such as ringworm. Drinking a little thyme tea and rubbing some thyme or thyme oil on the skin can help to get rid of ringworm. However, keep in mind raw thyme or thyme oil can cause a skin reaction in some people, so always check with a doctor before trying this.