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Thyme, Thymus vulgaris

Thyme, Thymus vulgaris or French thyme.

Family: Lamiaceae

Genus: Thymus

Thyme is one of the most popular herbs used today. There are several, subspecies that are commonly used for culinary purposes, e.g. lemon thyme, golden thyme, English thyme, German thyme, etc. When planting a garden it can be fun to try different varieties. I literally find that I can never have too much thyme. I enjoy it on almost all foods and dry as much as possible to carry me through winter. The plants will continue to produce through winter, but not if the weather becomes too harsh.

The Thyme plant is perennial.  It has a thin woody base and square stems. Its leaves are small and aromatic and its lilac or white flower appears in summer. 

Origin: Native to southern Europe and Mediterranean regions, and parts of Africa. It has been used in medicinal and culinary applications for thousands of years. Its use dates back to the Egyptian Empire.

History:

It has a long history of use as a medicinal healer and protector.

During the Roman era, it was eaten to prevent poisoning and put in bath water to stop the effects of poisoning.

In the days prior to refrigeration it was added to dishes as protection from spoiled meats and food-borne pathogens.

Preceding the use of antibiotics, thyme oil was used to medicate bandages.

Culinary Uses:

It is best to use fresh thyme, for a greater nutrient value than the dried herb will have, as well as a superior flavor. Both will likely be available at the health food store or herb store.

Fresh thyme is best used sparingly and at the end of the food preparation to keep its fragrance and flavor intact.

Just about everything goes well with thyme - salads, soups, stews, sauces, meats, chicken, and fish.

Medicinal uses:    

There are many beneficial essential oil constituents in thyme with antiseptic, and antifungal properties. It is rich with minerals and vitamins that are essential for optimum health.

Thyme makes a beneficial herbal tea, as it helps to clear congestion. Drinking or gargling warm thyme water may relieve coughs, a sore throat and bronchitis symptoms. This will help dissolve mucous in the intestinal tract. Thyme will also help relax the muscles of the stomach, helping to relieve a variety of types of digestive distress.

Today, a common use of thymol, thyme’s most active ingredient, as an antibacterial and antifungal is in mouth wash.          

It is a potent antioxidant that offers relief from respiratory and gastrointestinal distress, mental acuity, and protection from cancer causing toxins.

It is considered to be one of the top antioxidant foods around. Antioxidants protect the cells against oxidative stress caused by free radicals, which are considered to be the primary cause of the aging process, e.g. degenerative diseases such as cancer, heart disease, diabetes, arthritis, macular degeneration, Alzheimer’s disease and more.

Adding herbs and spices to the diet greatly increases the variety of antioxidants that you get from your food. It is one of the most effective means to preventing disease and premature aging.

Thyme’s antihypertensive activity helps to lower high blood pressure, thus helping to protect the heart.

It is rich in carotenoids and vitamin A and therefore highly effective for vision health, possibly slowing the onset of macular degeneration and cataracts.

Thyme is also known to boost feelings of well-being as its carvacrol content increases both, serotonin and dopamine levels.

Useful external applications are to treat dental decay, crabs, scabies and lice.

Thyme is also an effective ingredient for pest control targeting bacteria, viruses, etc. It also repels mosquitoes

Precautions: It is not known as an allergic substance and can be eaten daily. However, those with a sensitive stomach may need to refrain from high intake of the herb.

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Author, Eve Stahl, is a Health Consultant, Herbalist and Skin Care expert. She specializes in using nature’s plants to enhance the health of people and to protect the health of our planet. To achieve this purpose she has created Garden of Eve Skin Care products for sensitive skin and all skin types. You can visit her company at: www.gardenofeve.com Prospective Affiliates visit: www.gardenofeveskincare.com/affiliate-application

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