The Herb Stop Blog
Thyme's Health Benefits
Thyme is a lovely, delicate looking herb that grows in many gardens throughout the world. In ancient Greece, people used Thyme as a tissue cleanser to help heal wounds, to ease respiratory problems, including asthma and whooping cough, to quiet stomach cramps and to soothe gastro-intestinal complaints. They have also used Thyme for nervous conditions. The ancient Egyptians used Thyme as an embalming fluid. The Romans used Thyme to flavor cheeses and alcoholic beverages. Needless to say, Thyme has been, and still is, a popular herb all around the Globe.
Today, Herbalists use this fragrant herb not only in cooking but also for healing. Thyme has been used for nervous conditions and depression, to heal wounds, relieve asthmatic attacks and other respiratory problems, to calm stomach cramps and to soothe gastro-intestinal issues. Thyme is a powerful germicide and is used in mouthwashes and toothpastes, such as Listerine. It is a general tonic with antiseptic properties to fight general infections, fungal infections, and skin parasites, such as scabies, crabs, and lice. Thyme removes mucus from the head, lungs and respiratory passages. Thyme tea can be very helpful for people with early morning cough fits, or shortness of breath. It strengthens the lungs and clears the voice. Many famous singers drink Thyme tea before their performances.
There are over 300 varieties of Thyme. Thymus vulgaris is the most common one used in cooking, as a medicine, as well as to decorate homes and gardens. It is a fragrant perennial plant with tiny pinkish/white blooms forming dense mini-bushes. Another popular variety of Thyme is Thymus citriodorus, Lemon Thyme, known for its delicious lemon-scented fragrance.
The essential oil of Thyme is available as Red and White Thyme. Red Thyme is the crude distillate, and White Thyme is produced by further re-distilling Red Thyme. White Thyme essential oil has a milder fragrance and action, and is typically used by most people. Both Red and White Thyme can be used to prevent infections, treat respiratory problems, as well as for fungal infections. It is a very powerful essential oil and should be used with caution!
During a brutally cold Canadian winter in 1982, I decided to get an essential oil to use in my bath to warm myself up and fight an oncoming cold. Thyme was the only essential oil available from the one health food store in Ottawa. When I got home, I drew a hot bath and dropped a mere 3 drops of the pure essential oil into the bathwater. I immersed myself into the bath. Since essential oils do not mix with water, unbeknownst to me, the Thyme oil had floated to the top of the water and blistered my skin, causing a 1st degree burn! I learned first hand that Thyme essential oil should be used with extreme caution and should always be diluted.
Leilah's Favorite Recipes Using Fresh Thyme Leaves
Thyme can be added to a variety of sweet and savory recipes, such as salads, soups, sandwiches, deserts, etc. It can also made into infused oils and vinegars, herbal butters and herbal salts. Here are some of my absolute favorite ways of using fresh or dried Thyme leaves.
After recovering from a cold and bad cough a few years ago, I continued having early morning coughing fits, even though I was fine during the rest of the day and night. I decided to make a powerful healing Thyme tea in the evening before going to bed to help strengthen my lungs and eliminate buildup/mucous. It worked! No longer do I wake up in the morning with these coughing fits.
How To Make Thyme Tea
Thyme tea is actually very pleasant, especially the Lemon Thyme. Place one tablespoon of fresh Thyme, or one teaspoon of dried Thyme into a cup/mug and pour one cup of freshly boiled water over it and allow to steep for about 15 to 20 minutes. Remove Thyme leaves or strain. Sweeten with raw honey and/or fresh lemon juice. Drink as warm as possible.
Strawberry Amuse-Bouche With Thyme Leaves
This is an absolutely delicious recipe and can be enjoyed anytime. Since it is so easy and quick to make, it has become one of my favorites for an early dinner with a relaxing tea on a hot summer evening. Measure 4 tablespoons of aged balsamic vinegar and place in a small pot. Bring to a boil and simmer until reduced to about 2 tablespoons. Allow to cool. Take a slice of your favorite bread and drizzle with a little olive oil and toast well. You really want it to be brown and crisp. Spread some soft goat cheese or a substitute cheese such as Kite Hill. Cut up some strawberries into small pieces and place in a small bowl. Add the cooled reduced vinegar. Add approximately one tablespoon of fresh, or one teaspoon of dried, Thyme or Lemon Thyme. Mix well. Now place the strawberry mix on top of the toast with the goat cheese. Decorate with few more Thyme leaves.
Zatar On Flatbread
If you are bored with your typical breakfast, you may find this recipe really refreshing. It is not only delicious, healthy, and energizing, but it can also help lift that early morning mental fog. I was introduced to this easy and quick recipe while visiting Saudi Arabia many years ago. This is a traditional no fuss Middle Eastern breakfast.
Zatar (or Za'atar or zahtar) is a Middle Eastern spice blend that contains toasted Sesame seeds, Thyme and Sumac. Some people add a variety of other ingredients such as Marjoram, Cumin, Oregano, and Sea salt.
Warm up a pita bread, or you could also use your favorite tortilla. Spread some labneh* (yogurt cheese) on it. Make little wells in the yogurt cheese and pour a small amount of good quality olive oil on it. Now sprinkle some Zatar to your taste. Enjoy with a good cup of tea or Arabic coffee.
*How to make yogurt cheese: Take your favorite yogurt and place it into a cheese cloth, tie it tightly. Hang it in the kitchen sink area, or refrigerator, over a bowl, and let it drain overnight. In the morning take it out of the cheese cloth and you will a cream cheese consistency of yogurt cheese.
- Many people don't like to use fresh Thyme, as it is time-consuming to remove the leaves from the stems
- The word Thyme comes from the Greek word thymos, which means "courage". When a person was told they smell like Thyme it was considered a great compliment, as Thyme symbolizes courage, strength and bravery.
- Thyme can be used as a smudge to remove obstacles, mental fog, mental blocks, and negative feelings.
- The Romans supposedly used Thyme for melancholy and shyness.
- Remember the song? "Are you going to Scarborough Fair? Parsley, sage, rosemary and thyme. Remember me to one who lives there. He (she) once was a true love of mine."
- Scarborough Fair, a traditional English ballad of unknown origin, recorded by various artists in the 20th century.
*These statements have not been evaluated by the Food and Drug Administration. These products and statements are not intended to diagnose, treat, cure or prevent disease. Consult your doctor, pharmacist or herbalist before use.