Thyme is a herb many recognize by name, and some even by taste or smell. Not as many, however, are aware that beneath its distinctive and flavorful qualities, thyme is densely loaded with a variety of medicinal characteristics, making it hardly an after-thought ingredient. Today we dive into the history and health benefits of thyme, a herb of nearly 300 varieties, and highlight why you might consider making it a staple in your everyday culinary practice.
As Old As Thyme Itself
The medicinal qualities of thyme are no secret. For thousands of years, it has been a megastar of the herb world, cultivated by ancient Greeks, Romans, and Egyptians alike. In many of these empires, it was thought to act as an antidote for poison if ingested or bathed with. In this era, thyme was also thought to encourage intrepidness and strength.
- Roman soldiers exchanged sprigs as a sign of respect.
- Greeks and Roman commoners burned thyme to purify their temples and homes, and to evoke a spirit of courage in those who inhaled it.
- Egyptians used it during the embalming process.
- During the mid-1300s, when the Black Death hit Europe, much of the afflicted or at-risk population turned to thyme for protection, wearing it, consuming it, and applying it directly to plague-related ailments and wounds.
Later on, Victorian-era populations would use thyme in an attempt to combat infections, with nurses soaking bandages in thyme water. And all the while, monasteries and parishes throughout the ages would use it for culinary purposes and even food storage purposes, such as slowing the spoiling process of meats and poultries.
Thyme in Modern Times
Today, like other herbs and spices such as ginger, rosemary, and sage, thyme is still widely used in medicine and cooking. Through the advent of more modern methods of medicinal analysis, the health benefits of thyme (fresh, dried, and oil) are now more apparent than ever before. For starters, thyme contains an active ingredient known as thymol, which has antibacterial and antiviral features and thus can help manage issues ranging from infected acne, candida, and athletes foot to ones like the common cold. If used during your daily hair regimen, thyme essential oil can prevent hair loss by improving blood circulation in the scalp region.
The herb itself is brimming with vitamins and minerals that promote healthy heart activity. It can even provide anti-swelling relief to those with chronic inflammation. It’s high vitamin A content is great for eyesight and mitigating ocular diseases, and its soothing capabilities when steeped as a tea serve to aid sleep. Beyond all this, it is thought to help treat coughs, bronchitis, anemia, and potentially even prevent cancer. Finally, if you’re not ailing from any of that, but simply watching your sodium intake, it does wonders when replacing salt in a dish. What can’t thyme do!
Side Effects and Concerns
While it’s supplemental range is vast, there are some potential side-effects to consider when ingesting or applying the thyme plant for its benefits.
Be cautious when administering large doses of thyme or thyme oil to children. Likewise, be careful about how much you use if you are pregnant and/or breastfeeding. In both cases, while potential issues caused by amounts used for cooking are likely negligible, it’s unknown if larger amounts taken or applied directly can be harmful. If you are diagnosed with a bleeding disorder or have surgery planned, it’s worth knowing that some studies are suggesting thyme might slow blood clotting and could lead to various related complications. Finally, if you are afflicted by a condition that is worsened by exposure to estrogen, think twice before using thyme, since it tends to act similarly to estrogen when introduced into the female body.
Thyme to Consider Birth Song Botanicals
At Birth Song Botanicals, we care about you and your baby’s well-being, which is why we use herbs like thyme to create supplements, remedies, and tinctures that will help keep you naturally healthy and happy. Try our Elderberry Complex to mitigate the effects of chronic allergies, inflammation, and cold and flu symptoms. If you’re looking for thyme-infused products to maximize your children’s health and well-being, try our Children’s Respiratory Support Herbal Tincture or our Children’s Healing Herb Bath. Both of these child-oriented products will help support your children’s overall well-being and stave off chronic infections, allergies, and support their growth and development.Ready to experience the magic of thyme for yourself? Order today or call us at 479-283-7308.