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Focus on: Thyme (Thymus vulgaris)

Did you know that the herb thyme is antiseptic, antiviral, antibacterial, an expectorant, a carminative (reduces flatulence) and a diaphoretic (promotes sweating)? This makes it a great herb of choice for all types of infections including colds, flus, skin conditions and digestive issues.

Plus, if you use it in your cooking it tastes good too.

Conditions thyme can benefit

Respiratory conditions

It’s antibacterial and relaxing expectorant actions make thyme beneficial for coughs, colds, laryngitis, bronchitis, asthma and tightness in the chest. The carvacrol in thyme increases mucus secretion and the carvacrol and thymol are anti microbial to help fight infections.

Digestive issues

The bitters in thyme stimulate digestive activity, the tannins have an astringent effect and thymol and carvacrol are carminatives (helps relieve flatulence). These actions along with being antimicrobial make it beneficial for enteritis, gastritis, diarrhoea, dyspepsia and colic.

Infections and infestations

Thyme’s antibacterial and antifungal actions make it useful for hookworms, fungi and yeasts such as Candida albicans. Thymol is active against enterobacteria, Salmonella and Staphylococcus bacteria and coccid bacteria.

Thyme can reduce bacterial resistance to common drugs, including penicillin

Chewed as a fresh herb or gargled as a tea, thyme can heal infections of the gums, throat and larynx.

Skin conditions

The thymol and carvacrol in thyme have antiseptic, antibiotic, anti-fungal, anti-bacterial and anti-infective actions making it useful for eczema, acne, stings, bites and fungal skin conditions.

Nervous system conditions

The carvacrol in thyme is a natural tranquilizer and has a tonic effect on whole nervous system. Thyme is also a good source of B6 (pyridoxine) which plays a role in manufacturing GABA levels in the brain to help in regulating sleep patterns. GABA is a natural defence against stress damage.

Constituents of thyme

As well as thymol and carvacrol already mentioned. Thyme is:

  • High in Vitamin A for healthy mucus membranes, skin and vision.

  • High in Vitamin C to give resistance against infections.

  • High in B-complex vitamins especially B6 (pyridoxine) which helps maintain GABA levels in the brain and minimise stress.

  • High in potassium, calcium, iron, manganese, magnesium and selenium.

How to use it

Thyme can be used as tea, tincture, syrup, steam inhalation, oil or cream.

  • Massage thyme essential oil mixed with a carrier oil onto aching joints and muscles.

  • Apply diluted essential oil to cuts & wounds.

  • Gargle thyme tea for sore throats, tonsillitis, for infected, bleeding gums.

  • Douche with diluted thyme essential oil or tea for thrush and other vaginal infections.

  • Use a few drops of thyme essential in bowl of boiled water for a steam inhalation to help with coughs, asthma, colds, catarrh, sinusitis.


  • Thyme is a safe herb to use as a tea or in food.

  • Only use the oil externally.


  • Pregnancy - in large amounts it can cause uterine contractions and expulsion of a foetus.

  • High blood pressure - check with your doctor before taking thyme supplements or using thyme oil as taken together it may cause an abnormal drop in blood pressure.

  • Thyme can slow blood clotting and may amplify the effects of anticoagulants like Coumadin (warfarin or Plavix) causing bleeding and bruising. Thyme oil or supplements should be stopped at least two weeks before scheduled surgery to prevent excessive bleeding.


Thyme tea

  • Finely chop 2 tablespoons of fresh thyme (or use 1 tablespoon of dried thyme)

  • Add to a tea pot, Cafetiere or tea infuser

  • Pour over boiling water

  • Allow to steep for 5-10 minutes before drinking

  • Add slices of lemon and / or ginger and a teaspoon of honey.

Consider using more fresh thyme in your food by adding it to soups, sauces, salads, dips, vegetables, potatoes, rice, pasta, butter and vinegar.

Over to you

  • Buy a pot of thyme and put on your kitchen windowsill to use in cooking or plant some outside.

  • Google some thyme recipes.

  • Seek advice from an herbalist for health conditions that may benefit from a therapeutic dose and approach with thyme.

Always seek qualified practitioners and always check with your doctor before taking or using a new herb, supplement or oil.


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