Thyme – History and Benefits


Thyme, scientifically known as Thymus vulgaris is a herb belonging to the mint family with more than four hundred sub species. We are familiar with its use as a kitchen spice for a variety of dishes but nothing more. Thyme has a range of use beyond spicing that is impressive. Infact, it was often used for embalming and incensing by the ancient Egyptians and the ancient Greeks respectively. It has also begun to gain so much attention as a result of its medicinal properties like its ability to treat high blood pressure and acne. Its flowers, leaves and oil is used to cure several ailments and can be used fresh or dried. When fresh, it is full of flavour and sold as sprigs in bunches. A single stem from the plant with flower clusters or leaves is contained in one sprig.
In the Mediterranean region and all of Europe generally, this powerful spice has gained so much popularity. We are most likely not familiar with any thing the spice has to offer, but then that’s what this article is for.
We will begin by taking a look at how important thyme was and has been in history in different cultures and traditions.

The History of Thyme

The use of thyme as an embalming ingredient goes way back to the ancient Egyptians. The ancient Greeks on the other hand used the spice as incense in their temples and bathed with it – it was believed that that the spice was a source of courage. It is not shocking then that it was named from “Thymus”, the Greek word for Courage. In Rome, it was popularly used in the purification of rooms. It was also added to alcoholic beverages and cheese for flavour. They also placed it in coffins at funerals by loved ones to assure that the dead passed to the next life. Both Scottish and Roman Highlanders revered thyme’s ability to strengthen, the knights even had sprigs of thyme embroidered on their tunics because of this strong belief in its strengthening abilities. The French and English folks believed it attracted fairies and that if food was cooked with it, little spirits would be seen. It was said that people were given thyme to cure their shyness or melancholy. In the 1340s when black death was all over Europe, thyme was used as protection by wearing posies of it. In 370 BC, The Father of Western Medicine, Hippocrates, often recommended the spice for respiratory conditions. In France, in the nineteenth century, it was used in the development of aromatic and classic Benedictine liqueur. This little spice meant so much to people back in the days, now it’s thyme to see how much it could mean to you!

Benefits Of Thyme

1. Can Fight Cancer

A Portuguese study showed that thyme has the potential to prevent cancer, colon cancer especially. It comes as no surprise, thyme is rich in oleanolic acid, lutein, beta-sitosterol and ursolic acid, these contribute to its ability to prevent cancer. In breast cancer, it has exhibited properties linked with fighting against the breast cancer cells and improving the condition. Its essential oil contains carvacrol, which has been studied and found to possess the ability to slow down or stop the product and migration of cell lines of cancer. It has therefore been concluded that it is possible that thyme is able to prevent and cure several kinds of cancer or at least improve the condition for the better.

2. Fight Food Borne Infections

In Portugal still, at a veterinary studies center, the antimicrobial activity of thyme oil was monitored. It was reported that even in tiny measures, it showed great ability to function as a natural food preservative and could fight off foodborne bacteria that is a cause of human illness. Another study in Poland, in scientifically observing thyme, found that it was very effective against the most stubborn Staphylococcus, Escherichia, Enterococcus and Pseudomonas strains of bacteria. This makes thyme a cure for several foodborne diseases.

3. Clears Acne

This one will probably get you excited if you’ve been searching for the perfect solution to your acne problems with no good results in sight. Since we have established that thyme has powerful antibacterial properties, it only makes sense that it is able to exhibit same properties for acne. In the U.K, researches were carried out on acne with thyme tinctures. A thyme tincture is produced when thyme is placed in alcohol and allowed to stay there for days or weeks. The results gotten from the studies were extremely positive. The tincture was found to fight acne effectively, more effectively than a lot of antiacne products. With time, it will be established if thyme is officially endorsed as an antiacne product. It however has been found to be contained in a lot of acne face washes and creams.

4. Useful in Treating Dandruff

Thyme’s antibacterial properties make it useful for a lot of things, dandruff is one. It is able to effectively clear dirt from the scalp, including dead skin cells that cause dandruff. It is often found as an important ingredient in dandruff fighting scalp treatment products, conditioners and shampoos. Not all thyme varieties should be utilized for dandruff or scalp treatment purposes. White and Red thyme are the two major thyme varieties but excess utilization of red thyme could lead to irritations, it is therefore advised that you stick with white thyme for hair treatments.

5. Treats Respiratory Disorders

This is also thanks to its antibacterial and antiseptic properties. It is effective in the treatment of respiratory conditions like sore throat, cold, bronchitis and coughs. To have yourself treated with thyme, you could prepare a thyme tea by steeping a few thyme leaves in warm water for a while. You could sweeten it  with honey and drink regularly. With time, you will notice that your respiratory problems are now far-fetched. If you’re having a throat ache, you could boil thyme in water and gargle with it.

6. Boosts Immunity

Thyme is rich in vitamins A and C, so you don’t have to wonder where to get those vitamins from any longer. It also helps prevent diseases, so if you feel like you are coming down with something, thyme tea should do the trick as it is able to aid your body in fighting off sicknesses. It is also rich in fiber, copper, manganese and iron and is thus ideal to keep you strong and healthy.

7. Treats Bad Breath

Yes! Thyme can handle that bad breath and this is also thanks to its antibacterial properties. It fights the bacteria responsible for foul breath in the mouth and prevents mouth infections. It is also an important ingredient in mouthwashes that are produced for curing gingivitis and cavities.

In conclusion, there is so much more thyme can do! You can try them out for yourself and share your experiences with us!


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