Spices, herbs, tinctures and essential oils have been used for millennia to season our food, heal our bodies and boost our spirits. In our Throwback Thursday (#TBT) series, we at re:iimmune will take you back in history to learn how these gifts from Mother Nature have been used. We’ll focus on their use through the ages and beneficial purposes in regard to nutrition, natural health and household care. This week the focus is on the powerful protector and palate pleaser: thyme!
Thyme, the most common variety being Thymus vulgaris, is an evergreen herb with a fragrance Rudyard Kipling described as being, “like dawn in paradise.” There are a couple of possible origins for the name. It may be derived from the Greek thumos and/or the Latin fumus, which both mean “smoke” or the Greek word thumos can also signify courage. The Greeks burnt the herb as incense in their temples believing it a source of courage. Later, during the Middle Ages, ladies would give knights and warriors gifts embroidered with a bee hovering over a spray of thyme as a symbol of protection. Danish and German folklore listed wild thyme patches as a place favorable to find fairies.
Thyme does have some powerfully protective disinfecting and deodorizing properties. The disinfecting qualities of thymol, a primary component of the oil, has been useful in treating psoriasis, eczema and ringworm. It’s also useful in dental care, traditionally used to treat tooth decay, gingivitis, plaque and bad breath as it helps to kill germs. It can help keep those outdoor pests away too and treat the bites you may suffer from the little critters. For women, it’s been used to help improve progesterone production and relieve the symptoms of PMS and menopause. Thyme is also a powerful immune system booster, encouraging white blood cell formation and increasing resistance to germs and bacteria. This makes it a great herb to use in your defense during cold and flu season.
As for its culinary uses, it’s best known for flavoring meat dishes, soups and stews. In some parts of the Middle East it’s a vital ingredient for the condiment za’atar. Thyme is also a component of the bouquet garni and Herbes de Provence. It can be used fresh or dried and in its dried form it retains its flavour better than most other herbs.