You may only think of thyme as a common kitchen spice. Indeed, its flavor can enhance lamb, beef, chicken, or fish. You may also enjoy adding it to your tomato sauce.
But thyme also has a long history of traditional and medicinal use.
During the middle ages, people mixed it with lavender and spread it on the floors of churches to hold down the unwanted odors of the unwashed crowds. It was also crushed and applied topically to help heal wounds and prevent infections.
Modern science shows this herb has volatile essential oils with potent anti-viral, anti-bacterial, anti-fungal, and anti-parasitic properties. Plus, one of the essential oils in thyme is thymol, which has powerful antioxidant properties.
Today, thyme infusions are helping people suffering from chronic fatigue-fibromyalgia, lupus, multiple sclerosis, rheumatoid arthritis, thyroiditis, tinnitus, and vertigo. These conditions are considered to have an “auto-immune” component, so certain herbs like thyme are useful because they help balance the immune system.
At the same time, research shows thyme lowers the viral load in the body. And eliminating viruses may help to quiet down an over-active immune system.
Try doing all of that with a drug.
More versatile than a drug
Thyme is also high in vitamins and minerals, including potassium and selenium. It is also abundant in bioflavonoids, folic acid and other B vitamins, as well as pro-vitamin A and vitamin C. These nutrients are important for cell and metabolic regulation as well as maintaining antioxidant status.
Beyond the nutrient content, thyme is rich in terpenoids, such as ursolic and rosmarinic acids (also found in rosemary, a related herbal spice). Research shows these constituents have anti-cancer properties.
Studies show regular intake of thyme increases the level of DHA, an essential omega-3 fatty acid in the cellular membranes of the brain, heart and kidneys.
The essential oils in thyme also have strong properties against spasm of the lung bronchi — a problem well-known to asthma sufferers. In fact, inhaling strong, fresh thyme can help clear the lungs. All these properties make thyme useful in treatment of asthma, bronchitis, coughs, laryngitis, sore throat and throat infections.
So — this weekend, try adding some fresh thyme to your cooking.
Go outside, fire up the grill, and place generous bouquets of fresh thyme sprigs on your fish or meat and directly on the grill to get all the flavor and health benefits.
Better yet, try making an herbal infusion with fresh thyme.
You can easily grow thyme in your garden or in a pot or planter in your window. You can clip a few fresh sprigs when you are getting ready to prepare a meal.
Of course, if you’re not yet growing your own, you can also find sprigs of fresh thyme in the produce section of any grocery store or at your local farmer’s market.