Thyme is one of the best medicinal herbs there is and has long been used in Ayurvetic treatments. It is said that the benefits of thyme are immense. Flowers, leaves and oil are medicinal. There are over 300 varieties of thyme, although more are ornamental than for culinary use. This herb is one of the most used in cooking recipes to flavor anything from soups, meats, fish, vegetables and more. It is quite easy to grow thyme, so make sure to incorporate some in your garden.
Native to the Mediterranean, medicinal benefits of thyme have been known for thousands of years. All the wealthy people of Rome used grow it, as it was believed to stop poison, so it was eaten before meals. While it may not stop poison, modern studies show that a washing solution with thyme oil can reduce food borne illnesses caused by the bacteria Shigella.
Greek and Roman soldiers would use thyme as a symbol of courage in times of war. By the Middle Ages it was planted all over Europe and was used to relieve sores and symptoms during the bubonic plague. This tradition followed all the way to the 19th century, when Victorians continued using it to fight bacterial and viral infections.
Nutritional Value of Thyme
Every part of the plant can be used and has nutritional value. Stems are full of essential oils which is where a lot of the medicinal benefits of thyme derive. In the stems you will find antioxidants, vitamins, minerals and other compounds. While the leaves are full of protein, fiber, healthy fats, mineral, vitamins and antioxidants. If you do not have thyme, you can replace it with oregano or marjoram that have similar taste and benefits.
Thyme has carvacrol, flavonoids, tannins, saponins, carotenoids, retinol phenolic compounds and acids. As well as minerals such as iron, zinc, copper, magnesium and calcium and vitamins like A, C, E, K and several of the B complex.
Side Effects of Thyme
Thyme is mostly a safe herb. If you have any medical conditions, you should consult with a professional before taking advantage of the benefits of thyme. Children can consume it in food and medicine for short periods of time. Thyme is safe for pregnant and breastfeeding women when added to food. There is very little research if it is safe in medicinal amounts, so best to avoid it.
People who are allergic to oregano or other plants in the Lamiaceae family may be allergic to thyme. A protein called TRPA1 found in thyme, which stimulates pain and allows you to feel sensations, can be triggered and can cause headaches. Ginger, wintergreen, oregano and cloves can also cause this same effect.
Thyme slows down blood clotting, because of its strong level of vitamin K, so best to stop use at least two weeks before surgery and to avoid for people with bleeding disorders. It may interact with medications that slow blood clotting.
Another side effect of thyme is that it acts as estrogen in the body, so avoid it if you have a condition such as ovarian, breast, or uterine cancer, as well as endometriosis or uterine fibroids. It you are taking estrogen medication you should not use thyme. It can also interact with drugs that are for anticholinergic, antihistamines, antidepressants, medications for Alzheimer’s disease, glaucoma and some topical gels.
Benefits of Thyme
Thymol, the essential oil derived from thyme, is what gives this medicinal herb its benefits. It is also found in acne medication, mouthwashes, soaps and sanitizers.
For natural products, dosage depends on age, health and several conditions. So follow instructions on the label or consult a professional. If you are just using it on food or drinking tea in non-medicinal dosages you should not be concerned.
One of the benefits of thyme is treating digestion problems such as flatulence, bloating and growth of bad bacteria in the digestive track.
Thyme’s essential oil, thymol, can neutralize bacteria the cause intestinal stress. Thyme tea is an effective way to relieve colitis, inflammation and intestinal pain. It also covers your digestive tracks and linings, thus improving intestinal health and preventing bloating, diarrhea and constipation. Thyme can treat inflammatory bowel disease (IBD) and provides many colon health benefits.
Thyme is an antioxidant herb that helps fight free radical damage, while boosting the repair of your body and keeping your skin younger. It also prevents damage to the nervous system, heart and eyes.
Studies show that thyme is even more effective in treating acne bacterial than acne medication, without producing irritation and inflammation. Coconut oil, turmeric, thyme and most teas have anti-bacterial and anti-inflammatory properties.
Thyme can also help treat atopic dermatitis, a bacterial infection on the surface of the skin. Thymol has strong antibacterial and anti fungal properties which can kill bacteria and reduce swelling. Mix thyme oil with lavender oil for a more potent formula.
One of the benefits of thyme is its high quantity of vitamin C, that boosts immunity. This can increase the levels white blood cells to fight off diseases. Vitamin C also increases the absorption of iron, which raises the supply of oxygen to the cells in the body. Thyme helps in collagen production, which can repair cells and tissues.
Thyme is high in potassium and magnesium. These minerals are wonderful benefits of thyme since they help strengthen your heart and general cardiovascular functioning. Thus helping relax blood vessels, regulate heartbeat, prevent artery spasms, reduce blood pressure and boost circulation (because of iron). Basil is another herb that has a high effect in reliving hypertension. Another of the benefits of thyme is its ability to lower bad cholesterol (LDL) and triglyceride levels, while raising good cholesterol (HDL).
Ayurvedic medicine uses thyme as a remedy for allergies, chest congestion and asthma. One of the great benefits of thyme is its decongestant properties, which can help speed up the healing process of a cold or cough. Thyme treats hay fever and strep throat. For this it is best to brew a warm tea. This herb is even effective at treating bacteria that is resistant to antibiotics.
Fights off Infections
Thymol, found in thyme, strengthens the body’s resistance towards fungal infections. Use thyme essential oil to heal fungal and viral infections. It can also kill worms in the body. Use this oil as an insect repellent.
Some mouthwashes include thyme because it improves oral health, fights bad breath, gingivitis, gum disease and candida albicans.
Ayurvedic experts say that one of the benefits of thyme is treating insomnia. Thyme tea is a natural remedy for stress and anxiety. It provides the body with vitamin B6 which helps regulate sleep and stabilize stress hormones.
Makes you Happy
One of the best benefits of thyme is its ability to make you happy. Apply thyme essential oil to a diffuser, which will relieve thymol and carvacrol, which are both mood-boosting. A study showed that two weeks of carvacrol was enough to have antidepressant effects and release dopamine. Thyme’s anxiolytic properties reduce stress and anxiety. However, thyme is not the only herb or food with this benefit, you can take anything from red wine, cocoa powder, turmeric, cumin, ginseng, holy basil, mint, lemon balm, and more.