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Thyme



    Scientific Names

    Thyme
    • Thymus vulgaris L.
    • Labiatae
    • Mint family

    Common Names

    ivyCommon thyme
    ivyGarden thyme
    ivyMother of thyme
    ivySerpyllum
    ivyTomillo
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    Parts Usually Used

    Berries, fruits, leaves, and flowers
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    Description of Plant(s) and Culture

    Thyme has numerous woody stems 6-10 inches high, covered in fine hair, and flattish round leaves, growing in pairs. The flowers, small bluish-purple, two-lipped, are borne in whorled in dense, head-like clusters, blooming fro May to September, like the rest of the plant, are heavily scented.

    This herb has been cultivated for centuries for both medicine and cookery. There are many varieties of thyme from ground covers to shrubby plants a foot or more high: creeping thyme (T. praecox), lemon thyme (T. citriodorus), orange blossom thyme (T x citriodorus orange blossom), (T. glabrescens), (T. mastichina), mother-of-thyme (T. praecox subsp. arcticus), woolly thyme (T. psudolanuginosus), wild thyme (T. serpyllum), argenteus, aureus, T. herba-barona, Spanish thyme (T. zygis), etc. All thymes require full sun and fairly dry, light, well-drained soil. Basil thyme (Acinos thymoides). Thyme tends to rob the soil of nutrients.
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    Where Found

    Thyme grows wild on dry banks and heaths. Grows wild on hillsides in Greece and throughout the Mediterranean, Europe and the British Isles.
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    Medicinal Properties

    Anthelmitic, antispasmodic, carminative, diaphoretic, expectorant, sedative.
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    Biochemical Information

    Borneol, cavacrol, fluorine, gum, trace minerals, bitter principle, saponins, flavonoids, essential oils, tannins, triterpenic acids, and vitamins B-complex, C, and D.
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    Legends, Myths and Stories

    An oil in thyme was once a standard ingredient of most antiseptic lotions and commercial disinfectants, mouthwashes and toothpastes.

    Around 3000 BC the Sumerians were using it as a medicinal ingredient, and the Egyptians included it among the herbs and spices used in mummification. The Greeks used thyme as a temple incense (the word thyme comes from a Greek word meaning "to fumigate", and both they and the Romans praised its healing virtues. During the Middle Ages thyme was considered a symbol of courage, and knights rode into battle wearing scarves on which their ladies had embroidered sprigs of the herb.

    A Biblical association with thyme is the Christ-child's manger, Christian tradition holds with good cause that thyme was among the 3 or 4 herbs upon which Mary and the Child bedded in Bethlehem of Judea, and so it has become an herb to be in the gardens of churches and monasteries.
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    Uses

    Used for sinusitis and asthma. Eliminates gas and reduces fever, mucus, and headaches. Good for chronic respiratory problems, colds, flu, bronchitis, whooping cough, and sore throat. Lowers cholesterol levels. Good to relieve coughs, and whooping cough. Externally, helps sprains and strains.

    A poultice can be made from the leaves of thyme that will combat all forms of inflammation and infection. Effective against hookworms. Rub the extract between the toes daily for athlete's foot. Used externally, the extract can be used daily for crabs, lice, and scabies.

    Taken internally by standard infusion, thyme is a first-rate digestive, febrifuge and liver tonic. Anti-spasmodic and nervine, it is held to cure a wide range of psychological disorders, even insanity. Hysteria, halitosis and assorted female ailments, especially mastitis, loss of appetite.

    Thyme baths are said to be helpful for neurastenia, rheumatic problems,, paralysis, bruises, swellings, and sprains. The salve made from thyme can be used for shingles.

    Thyme can repel insects and moths. It is said to aid the growth of eggplant, tomatoes, and potatoes when planted nearby in the garden. Thyme is a favorite of bees.
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    Formulas or Dosages

    Infusion: steep 1/2 tsp. fresh herb or 1 tsp. dried herb in 1/2 cup water for 3 to 5 minutes. Take 1 to 1 1/2 cups per day, a mouthful at a time.

    Oil: take 10-20 drops, 3 times per day.

    Bath additive: make a strong decoction and add to the bath water.
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    How Sold

    Sold commercially as a spice.
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    Warning

    Use sparingly. Do not make a habit of using thyme.

    Avoid therapeutic doses of thyme and thyme oil in any form during pregnancy because the herb is a uterine stimulant.

    Thyme oil can irritate mucous membranes. Always dilute it well if used.

    Excessive internal use of thyme can lead to symptoms of poisoning and to overstimulation of the thyroid gland. Use caution.
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    Bibliography

    Buy It! The Herb Book, by John Lust, Bantam Books, 666 Fifth Avenue, New York, NY. copyright 1974.

    Buy It! Earl Mindell's Herb Bible, by Earl Mindell, R.Ph., Ph.D., Simon & Schuster/Fireside, Rockefeller Center 1230 Avenue of the Americas, New York, New York 10020

    Buy It! Back to Eden, by Jethro Kloss; Back to Eden Publishing Co., Loma Linda, CA 92354, Original copyright 1939, revised edition 1994

    Buy It! Indian Herbalogy of North America, by Alma R. Hutchens, Shambala Publications, Inc., Horticultural Hall, 300 Massachusetts Avenue, Boston, Massachusetts 02115, 1973

    Buy It! The Complete Medicinal Herbal, by Penelope Ody, Dorling Kindersley, Inc, 232 Madison Avenue, New York, NY 10016, First American Edition, copyright 1993

    Buy It! Eastern/Central Medicinal Plants, by Steven Foster and James A. Duke., Houghton Mifflin Company, 215 Park Avenue South, New York, NY 10000

    Buy It! The Nature Doctor: A Manual of Traditional and Complementary Medicine, by Dr. H.C.A. Vogel; Keats Publishing, Inc., 27 Pine Street (Box 876) New Canaan, CT. 06840-0876. Copyright Verlag A. Vogel, Teufen (AR) Switzerland 1952, 1991

    Herbal Gardening, compiled by The Robison York State Herb Garden, Cornell Plantations, Matthaei Botanical Gardens of the University of Michigan, University of California Botanical Garden, Berkeley., Pantheon Books, Knopf Publishing Group, New York, 1994, first edition

    Buy It!The Magic of Herbs, by David Conway, published by Jonathan Cape, Thirty Bedford Square, London, England. (Out of print)

    Buy It! American Folk Medicine/i>, by Clarence Meyer, Meyerbooks, publisher, PO Box 427, Glenwood, Illinois 60425, 1973

    Buy It! Planetary Herbology, by Michael Tierra, C.A., N.D., O.M.D., Lotus Press, PO Box 325, Twin Lakes. WI 53181., Copyright 1988, published 1992

    Prescription for Nutritional Healing, Fifth Edition: A Practical A-to-Z Reference to Drug-Free Remedies Using Vitamins, Minerals, Herbs & Food Supplements, by James F. Balch, M.D. and Phyllis A. Balch, C.N.C., Avery Publishing Group, Inc., Garden City Park, NY

    Buy It! Webster's New World Dictionary, Third College Edition, Victoria Neufeldt, Editor in Chief, New World Dictionaries: A Division of Simon & Schuster, Inc., 15 Columbus Circle, New York, NY 10023

    Buy It! The Rodale Herb Book: How to Use, Grow, and Buy Nature's Miracle Plants (An Organic gardening and farming book), edited by William H. Hylton, Rodale Press, Inc. Emmaus, PA, 18049., 1974

    Buy It! Country Home Book of Herbs, Meredith Books, Editorial Dept. RW240, 1716 Locust Street, Des Moines, IA 50309-3023, copyright 1994

    Buy It! The Yoga of Herbs: An Ayurvedic Guide to Herbal Medicine, by Dr. David Frawley & Dr. Vasant Lad, Lotus Press, Twin Lakes, Wisconsin, Second edition, 1988.

    Buy It! The Healing Plants, by Mannfried Pahlow, Barron's Educational Series, Inc. 250 Wireless Blvd., Hauppauge, NY 11788, 1992

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