Thyme – January 2017

Thyme is evergreen and hardy, so it is still available in its fresh state at this time of year.  In its dried form most of us have it in our kitchen cupboards.

Medicinally, its qualities are; antiseptic, anti-spasmodic, anti-fungal and carminative, (carminative means wind reducing).  It has a long history of being used for respiratory disorders.  It is used particularly for dry, irritating types of coughs.  It can be taken in the form of a tea, tincture or syrup.  It combines well with soft moistening herbs such as mallow root and mullein for these types of cough.  For sore throats a strong infusion of thyme, strained and cooled makes an effective gargle. It’s also good to add to steam inhalations for sinus infections and nasal congestion.

The antiseptic and anti-fungal qualities of thyme can be of benefit when addressing an imbalance of less than beneficial bacteria in the intestines.  It is also used in remedies for urinary infections due to its antiseptic action.

Its energy is warming, drying and pungent – welcome at this time of year.

As a culinary herb its robust, warm taste is not diminished by prolonged cooking.  It helps to aid digestion, particularly of heavier, harder to digest foods consumed this time of year.

Contains:  High levels of volatile oils, particularly thymol which is antiseptic.  It also contains bitter compounds and this bitterness aids our digestion by stimulating our digestive secretions.

Parts used: leaves

Family: Lamiaceae – mint family – perennial

Cautions: Do not take high doses whilst pregnant as thyme can stimulate the uterus.  Can also be stimulating to the gall-bladder so avoid with gallstones.

How to grow:   All types of thyme can be used but Thymus vulgaris (common thyme) grown in a sunny spot is to my mind the most valuable medicinal thyme to use.  In the UK a wild version grows in rocky crevices, especially by the sea (Thymus serpyllum) this can used this but the aroma and action is milder.

In the garden it will grow well if in a sunny, well-drained site.  It dislikes wet and soggy conditions.  If your growing conditions are not optimum then you can grow it in a pot which has broken terracotta or plenty of grit in it, especially at root level and around the base of the stem.  You could grow it on a well-drained slope but again work plenty of grit into the soil, especially under the plant before you plant it.