Thyme

Thyme is a herbaceous plant associated with the mint family (Lamiaceae) which is widely known for its ornamental, culinary and medicinal uses. It is the member of genus Thymus and closely related to oregano (Origanum genus). This herb earned its name from a Greek word ‘thumus’ which refers to courage. Since ancient times, it was being used as a natural anti-depressant. The plant is characterized by greenish grey colored leaves with white borders and a long, narrow, elliptical shape. They have a subtle fragrance with a tinge of mint flavor.

Scientific Name

Thymus vulgaris      

Common Names

  • Black thyme
  • Garden Thyme
  • Hasha
  • Omum
  • Banajwain
  • Masho
  • Marizha
  • Rangsbur
  • Thymian
  • Tomillo
  • Timi
  • Maruvam

Distribution

The plant traces its origin in America, but many of its other species are found in Mediterranean and European regions. Some varieties are indigenous to Asian region where it is used for edible as well as ornamental purposes.

Health Advantages

Heart Health

The content present in this herb helps in lowering blood cholesterol level of the body and regulate blood pressure. It also aids in the treatment of atherosclerosis which is a severe cardiovascular disease.

Prevents Cancer

They inhibit the growth of harmful cancerous cells in the body. Availability of some components like oleanolic acid, lutein, beta-sitosterol, ursolic acid, and carvacrol stops the migration and proliferation of cancerous cells. These compounds are therapeutic in nature which helps in treating breast cancer also. Its essential oil also assists in controlling the development of cancer within the body.

Cures Inflammation

One primary reason for inflammation in the body is an inflammatory enzyme named as COX-2. Thyme oil has properties to restrain this enzyme which will consequently prevent various inflammatory ailments. Carvacrol is another essential component that aids in preventing inflammation and also provides relief in case of gout and arthritis.

Boosts Immunity

This herb is packed with the qualities of Vitamin C and Vitamin A which improves the immune system by assisting in the formation of white blood cells (WBCs) and enhancing the effect of anti-inflammation. It is used during cold and congestion for inhaling the steam due to its mild flavor and fragrance.

Digestive Health

Its oil possesses several components that help in the eradication of toxic substances, harmful bacteria, and other pathogens. Hence, it helps in the improvement of the digestive system. The oil and tea prepared from thyme relieve bloating, gas and indigestion along with soothing the intestinal cramps.

Treats Dyspraxia

Dyspraxia is also termed as Developmental Coordination Disorder (DCD). It is a neurological disorder that adversely affects the synchronization between brain and movements of the body. This plant has features to improve the symptoms of this disease. Thyme oil is beneficial in curing this condition, especially in children.

Menstrual Health

A condition of painful menstruation along with abdominal cramps is called dysmenorrheal which can be treated with the use of thyme. This evergreen herb also helps in curing the yeast infection in women’s genital part.

Improves Eyes Health

The plant is enriched with Vitamin A which is highly beneficial for improving the vision of the eyes. They prevent the occurrence of night blindness which happens due to deficiency of Vitamin A. Another vision-related disease is macular degeneration which can also be treated by this herb.

Oral Health

The infections, growth of bacteria, tooth decay and bad breath can be cured and relieved by thyme. It eliminates bacteria which are resistant to antibiotics and are responsible for deteriorating health condition of the oral cavity. Mouthwash with a liquid containing its extracts and swishing warm water with this essential oil can help in getting rid of plaque, tooth cavities, and gingivitis. The thymol present in this herb protects the teeth from further decaying.

Headaches

Thyme oil provides relief in migraines and headaches due to their anti-inflammatory and antioxidant properties. One can apply a few drops of oil on temples and forehead to be relieved from stress.

Skin Health

The essential oil extracted from the plant can protect the skin from infections due to its antifungal and antibacterial properties. It fights against acne and aids in healing wounds, sores, burns, cuts, and scars. The plant has the ability to cure eczema, cracks and itchy scales. It can slow down the symptoms and process of aging by removing wrinkles, fine lines and providing a smooth glowing skin.

Good for Hair

Thyme, when mixed with other herbs or oils such as lavender oil, improves hair growth, prevents dandruff and controls hair fall. The tea made of its leaves when applied on hair to rinse controls the growth of dandruff, nymphs, nits, and lice.

Side Effects

Mucous Membrane Irritation

This plant contains two compounds namely carvacrol and thymol which can cause irritation of mucous membranes in sensitive people.

Allergies

This herb can promote allergies in some individuals in the form of swellings, irritation, rashes, and other responses. People who are allergic to catmint, celery, oregano, rosemary, and basil should be careful while using them.

Increases Blood Pressure

It possesses some properties which elevate blood pressure. People suffering from hypertension and high blood pressure are prone to face adverse effects if they consume it in the form of oil, tea or herbs.

Adversely affects Thyroid

This herb shows a negative impact on the thyroid gland. Many types of research suggest that regular use may result in lowering thyroid hormones.

Heart-Related Risks

The excessive dose or allergy can cause serious heart associated conditions like tachypnea, cardiac arrest, etc.

Inflammations on the Skin

It may cause burning sensation and inflammation to some sensitive people or atopic ones when they apply any thyme contained product/cream/antiseptic on the skin. It can be harmful to hypersensitive people if poultice or its paste is directly applied to the skin.

Reactions with Drugs

If someone is taking anti-thyroid and thyroid replacement medicines, contraceptive pills, or any hormone replacement medications then he/she should entirely avoid thyme. It inversely reacts with the functioning of progesterone and estrogen receptors that adversely affects the whole body system.

Uses

  • Used for preparing a variety of sauces and soups
  • Act as a seasoning agent
  • Used for marinating meat, chicken, and fish
  • Leaves are added in omelets, pasta dishes, and sautéed vegetables
  • Utilized as a flavoring agent
  • Key ingredients of two herbal soup mixtures bouquet garni and herbes de Provence
  • Used in the manufacturing of some natural, alcohol-free hand sanitizers

Varieties

  • Caraway
  • Wolly
  • Juniper
  • Wild thyme
  • Elfin
  • Italian oregano
  • Silver Thyme
  • Orange balsam
  • Lemon Thyme
  • Grey hill lemon thyme
  • Conehead
  • Za’atar thyme
  • Creeping thyme

Nutrition Content

Nutrients Value (Per 100 g)
Total Fat 1.68 g
Dietary Fiber 14.0 g
Energy 101 kcal
Carbohydrates 24.45 g
Cholesterol 0 mg
Protein 5.56 g
Vitamin C 160.1 mg
Riboflavin 0.471 mg
Folates 45 µg
Thiamin 0.48 mg
Vitamin A 4751 IU
Pyridoxine 0.348 mg
Niacin 1.824 mg
Pantothenic Acid 0.409 mg
Zinc 1.81 mg
Magnesium 160 mg
Carotene- ß 2851 µg
Sodium 9 mg
Manganese 1.719 mg
Calcium 405 mg
Iron 17.45 mg
Potassium 609 mg
Sugars 0.02 g

How to Prepare?

  • Choose fresh plants
  • Remove the leaves or needles
  • Hold the sprig at its top
  • Take your fingers to the bottom of sprig
  • Strip off the leaves
  • You can use the bungle of leaves without chopping due to their small size but if you want then cut them together on the chopping board
  • You can use them in various cuisines

Recipes

  • Braised Scrod with thyme and cream
  • Jelly
  • Lemon thyme chicken
  • Pizza
  • Chestnut amaretto soup
  • Sherbet
  • Honey roast carrots
  • Braised Artichokes with tomatoes and thyme pasta
  • Herbal tea
  • Cajun spice mix
  • Thyme biscuits
  • Cashew Mushroom Loaf
  • Pork with apple thyme sauce
  • Cherry cornbread stuffing
  • Sweet potato and leek soup with fresh ginger and thyme

During Pregnancy

Expecting mothers should consume this herb in a moderate amount after guidance from an expert or medical professional. Overconsumption may lead to severe health conditions. There is no instance or report of such cases, but it is said that thyme can result or provoke the chances of miscarriage if taken in large amount.

Interesting Facts

  • Before the invention of modern antibiotics, its essential oil was used for medicinal purposes and bandages
  • In Ancient Greece, this herb was the sign/symbol of courage and sacrifice
  • As per the Christian belief, thyme was present in the straw bed of baby Jesus Christ and Virgin Mary
  • The ancient Egyptians used this herb in the process of mummifying the dead Pharaohs

Storage

Select fresh leaves of herb that is featuring light green color and wrap them in a paper sheet which is slightly moistened/humidified or let them air dry for some time. Place this inside the refrigerator. They can also be preserved in dried form by keeping in a tight glass container and can be stored in a dark, dry, and cold place. This will survive and stay fresh for around six months.

References

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