Thyme is a herb that has been cultivated for centuries for both its medicinal and culinary uses.
The use of thyme has been recorded since 3000BC when the Sumerians used it as a medicinal ingredient while the Egyptians used it in the mummification process.
The word ?thyme" comes from a Greek word meaning ?to fumigate". It was used in Greek temples as incense and both the Greeks and the Romans use it for its healing properties. Among the Greeks, thyme denoted graceful elegance, to smell of thyme? was meant as praise to those with admirable style.
During the Middle Ages, thyme was considered a symbol of courage and women made scarves with embroidered sprigs of thyme on them to be worn by their knights who marched into battle.
Thyme can be found growing on dry banks and heaths, Greece hillsides and throughout the Mediterranean, Europe and the British Isles. The plant has numerous 6 to 10 inches tall woody stems covered in fine hair and flattish round leaves that grow in pairs. Its flowers are bluish purple, two-lipped and bloom in clusters from May to September.
The oil of this small garden herb is a clear, pale yellow liquid with a sweet, fresh scent like that of greenery.
The highly antiseptic properties of thyme make it a common ingredient in antibacterial mouthwash, antiseptic lotions, commercial disinfectants and toothpastes. Due to its healing virtues, thyme was used by the British army to treat wounded soldiers during World War Two.
Thyme is good for relieving respiratory problems, colds, flu, cough and sore throat. It may also be used to clear congestions caused by sinus and alleviates asthma.
Recent research has found thyme to relax the smooth stomach muscles to aid digestion.
Thyme is soothing to the nerves, which is rejuvenating to mind, making it ideal for treating depression or lethargy.
Although thyme is a favourite of bees, it is also a good insect and moth repellant. Caution Use thyme oils in moderation and to avoid during pregnancy because it is a uterine stimulant.