Thyme is a culinary staple for our meats, soups, and sauces. But, did you know that there are other fun ways to use it?
It’s thyme to talk about why you should never run out of this magical herb in your pantry and how to enjoy it. Hippocrates’ legacy lives on today, as we continue to uncover new health benefits of thyme.
History of thyme
To the ancient Greeks, it was a symbol and a medicine.
The Greeks associated this herb with bravery and courage. They burned it in their temples and homes for purification and added it to their baths.
It was also used early on as herbal medicine. As early as 370 BC, Greek physicians like Hippocrates used it to treat respiratory and digestive illnesses.
Ways to enjoy it
There are many creative ways to use it beyond flavoring your foods:
- Cook with it: Thyme has a distinctive flavor that many people love. You can add it as a healthy substitute for salt to flavor your meats, vegetables, sauces, soups, and more.
- Drink it: You can drink it in the form of herbal tea. It often comes in teabags.
- Aromatherapy: Essential oils or candles containing thyme are perfect for spreading a minty aroma.
- Mouthwash: It can freshen your breath.
- Tincture for Skin: You can apply a thyme tincture (thyme steeped in alcohol over some time) to the skin for healing effects.
Seven health benefits
There are many unique health benefits of this herb, as if the aroma and taste weren’t enough reasons to justify using it every day.
1. Supports your nutrient needs
It’s a wonderful source of vitamin A, vitamin C, copper, iron, calcium, and manganese.
With so many vitamins and minerals that your body needs but can’t produce on its own, eating foods with thyme can meet your nutrition needs.
2. Helps when you’re sick
Have a cough? Thyme to the rescue!
Studies show that a thyme-ivy combination oil helped reduce coughing in people who had acute bronchitis.  You can either drink it in tea or use a scent diffuser that contains thyme.
Thymol, which is found in thyme, can also ward off bacteria and viruses to prevent or treat nasty illnesses. Plus, the vitamin C in thyme supports your immunity.
Hippocrates knew this early on.
3. Relieves pain
Essential oils with thymol have shown to have pain-relieving properties.  Thymol can also help reduce inflammation.
Whether you are in mild pain or have a burn or cut, thyme-based essential oils may serve as a great home remedy to heal wounds.
4. Reduce blood pressure and cholesterol
A specific type of thyme was shown to reduce blood pressure and cholesterol in rats.  However, human studies are needed to confirm the effect.
5. Improves your skin
Thyme is a natural anti-acne medication! Try mixing it with witch hazel, steeping in hot water, then applying it to your skin.
6. Fights cancer
Thyme contains carvacrol, which has been shown to stop colon cancer cells from multiplying and spreading.  Could this component be helpful for other types of cancer?
7. Improves digestion
Adding it to foods can help reduce bloating, gas, and digestive issues.  The oils that are found in thyme helps reduce how much gas your body naturally makes.
The bottom line
Thyme is a culinary and medicinal herb with a long history of use since Hippocrates and ancient Greece. Beyond its culinary uses, it can also be used as a mouthwash, scent, or skin ointment. It’s also rich in health benefits, making it a wonder herb. If you don’t have it in your pantry, it’s thyme to get some!
This tremendous Greek herb, and a wide selection of others, are available for purchase from Olive Grove Market.
- Kemmerich B, Eberhardt R, Stammer H. Efficacy and tolerability of a fluid extract combination of thyme herb and ivy leaves and matched placebo in adults suffering from acute bronchitis with productive cough. A prospective, double-blind, placebo-controlled clinical trial. Arzneimittelforschung. 2006;56(9):652-60.
- De Sousa DP. Analgesic-like activity of essential oils constituents. Molecules. 2011 Mar 7;16(3):2233-52.
- Alamgeer, Akhtar MS, Jabeen Q, Khan HU, Maheen S, Haroon-Ur-Rash, Karim S, Rasool S, Malik MN, Khan K, Mushtaq MN, Latif F, Tabassum N, Khan AQ, Ahsan H, Khan W. Pharmacological evaluation of antihypertensive effect of aerial parts of Thymus linearis benth. Acta Pol Pharm. 2014 Jul-Aug;71(4):677-82.
- Fan K, Li X, Cao Y, Qi H, Li L, Zhang Q, Sun H. Carvacrol inhibits proliferation and induces apoptosis in human colon cancer cells. Anticancer Drugs. 2015 Sep;26(8):813-23.
- Larijani B, Esfahani MM, Moghimi M, Shams Ardakani MR, Keshavarz M, Kordafshari G, Nazem E, Hasani Ranjbar S, Mohammadi Kenari H, Zargaran A. Prevention and Treatment of Flatulence From a Traditional Persian Medicine Perspective. Iran Red Crescent Med J. 2016 Jan 31;18(4):e23664.
About the author
Chrissy Arsenault, MBA, RDN, LD, is a registered dietitian nutritionist and licensed dietitian based in Indianapolis. She obtained her bachelor of science in nutritional science at Cornell University and her MBA at Indiana University Kelley School of Business. She is the founder and CEO of a nutrition communications firm called Pink Pamplemousse LLC, where she creates engaging nutrition and wellness content for clients. She has also coached clients on various health conditions including heart disease, obesity, digestive issues and diabetes over the last seven years. Visit Chrissy’s website.
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