An evergreen shrub that is favored for its culinary, medicinal, and ornamental uses, Thymus vulgaris, or thyme, is a common herb in many kitchen pantries. It’s dry aroma and subtle, minty flavor make it an excellent stuffing for poultry, as well as an ingredient in soups, croquettes, and chowders. It is also known for its medicinal uses, ranging from its antibacterial properties to its cancer-fighting abilities.
History of Thyme
Thyme has been used since the ancient times for its culinary and medicinal benefits; it was even believed that the herb possessed magical capabilities. The Greeks and Romans associated thyme with elegance, style, courage, and sacrifice. They burnt the leaves as an incense in the temples, while the warriors rubbed it on their chests. This symbolism was carried on until the medieval period, where the women sewed thyme on small cloths and handkerchiefs and gave them to knights.
In 1725, a German apothecary named Neuiuiann isolated thymol essential oil from the herb. Thyme oil has been used since then in aromatherapy to calm the nerves and improve the overall mood of an individual. The oil was also used to improve digestion, treat reproductive system problems, and even cure hangovers.
Thyme is included in the French bouquet garni (garnished bouquet), a bundle of herbs made up of basil, rosemary, tarragon, and savory, all tied together with a string. It is used to flavor stews, soups, and stocks. It is also a key ingredient in Arabic and Mediterranean dishes.
Thyme Nutrition Facts
For every 4 grams (1 tablespoon) of ground thyme leaves, you will get the following nutrition:
- 7 Calories (1% Daily Value)
- 8.1 From Carbohydrate
- 2.6 From Fat
- 0.9 From Protein
- 7 Total Carbohydrate (1% Daily Value)
- 1.6 grams Dietary Fiber (6% Daily Value)
- 3 grams Total Fat (0% Daily Value)
- 0.1 grams Saturated Fat (1% Daily Value)
- 0.0 grams Monounsaturated Fat
- 0.1 grams Polyunsaturated Fat
- 29.3 milligrams Total Omega-3 Fatty Acids
- 21.3 milligrams Total Omega-6 Fatty Acids
- 4 grams Protein (1% Daily Value)
- 162 IU Vitamin A (3% Daily Value)
- 1 milligrams Vitamin C (4% Daily Value)
- 3 milligrams Vitamin E (2% Daily Value)
- 9 micrograms Vitamin K (91% Daily Value)
- 0 milligrams Thiamin (1% Daily Value)
- 0 milligrams Riboflavin (1% Daily Value)
- 2 milligrams Niacin (1% Daily Value)
- 0 milligrams Vitamin B6 (1% Daily Value)
- 6 micrograms Folate (3% Daily Value)
- 0 micrograms Vitamin B12 (0% Daily Value)
- 9 milligrams Choline
- 3 milligrams Calcium (8% Daily Value)
- 3 milligrams Iron (29% Daily Value)
- 3 milligrams Magnesium (2% Daily Value)
- 5 milligrams Phosphorous (1% Daily Value)
- 6 milligrams Potassium (1% Daily Value)
- 3 milligrams Sodium (0% Daily Value)
- 3 milligrams Manganese (17% Daily Value)
- 2 micrograms Selenium (0% Daily Value)
- 9 milligrams Phytosterols
- 3 grams Water
Top 10 Health Benefits of Thyme
Relieves sore throats
Oftentimes paired with oregano, thyme is a strong antibacterial herb that is used to relieve sore throats. Thymol is an essential oil found in this herb that exhibits powerful microbial-killing properties. Drinking thyme tea or adding thyme to your soup will help relieve that itch in your throat.
Detoxifies the body
Thymonin, lutein, and zeaxanthin are flavonoids that play a huge role in keeping the body from diseases. These compounds act as antioxidants that detoxify the body from harmful free radicals that build up in the body. Excessive free radicals can cause oxidative stress and trigger many diseases such as cancer, diabetes, and dementia.
Strengthens the immune system
This herb is rich in vitamin C, another powerful antioxidant and immune system booster. Vitamin C strengthens the body’s line of defense by protecting you from minor infections to deadly illnesses.
Reduces stress and anxiety
Carvacrol, an active compound found in thyme, has been proven to reduce stress and anxiety, and prevent the onset of depression by stimulating the production of dopamine and serotonin in the brain. Inhaling the scent of thyme essential oil or adding thyme to your dishes will significantly improve your overall mental well-being.
Promotes blood circulation
Thyme is a rich source of minerals such as potassium, magnesium, iron, manganese, phosphorous, and calcium. These minerals ensure that the blood vessels are unobstructed, promoting better blood circulation and organ oxygenation.
Lowers high blood pressure
Hypertensive people should add thyme to their herb cabinet since this plant significantly lowers the blood pressure due to minerals that act as a vasodilator. It relaxes the blood vessels, thereby preventing cardiovascular diseases such as stroke, heart attack, and atherosclerosis.
Prevents food contamination
Researchers have proven that thymol can prevent intoxication from food contamination. During food preparation, the ingredients were washed with a solution containing thyme oil, particularly the meat. It effectively killed Shigella sp., a microbial strain that causes severe diarrhea.
Improves body metabolism
Thyme is an excellent source of B-vitamins, which include niacin, thiamin, riboflavin, pyridoxine, and folic acid. These vitamins play an important role in converting the nutrients from food, metabolizing proteins and fats, and, keeping the hair, skin, and liver healthy.
Repels bugs and insects
Geraniol, another essential oil found in thyme, are used in plant-based insect repellents to keep bugs and insects away. It is a natural way to protect yourself against disease-causing insects, such as mosquitos that can cause dengue fever.
Kills fungal infections
Thymol also possesses antifungal properties that can effectively kill fungal infections affecting the skin and nails. Applying thyme oil on the affected area regularly will cure the root cause of the infection.
Potential Side Effects of Thyme
- Thyme is safe when consumed in amounts that are normally used in food. It is also safe when taken orally in medicinal amounts for a short period of time, but it might cause an upset stomach.
- Thyme essential oil is safe when applied on the skin, although in some cases, it can cause skin irritation to some people.
- For children, thyme is safe when consumed in moderate amounts as a food or medicine for a short period of time.
- For pregnant and breastfeeding women, thyme is safe when consumed in moderate amounts as a food. Consult your physician first before attempting to take it as a medicine.
- For people who are allergic to oregano, marjoram, basil, rosemary, and other plants belonging to the family Lamiaceae, thyme might cause the same allergic reaction.
- For people with hormone-sensitive conditions, thyme might act like estrogen in the body and worsen the condition.
- For people with bleeding disorders, thyme can slow down blood clotting and worsen the bleeding.
- For people who are about to undergo surgery, discontinue the use of thyme two weeks prior to the operation.
Thyme Fun Facts
- The ancient Egyptians used thyme for embalming corpses before they were wrapped in cloth during mummification.
- During the Middle Ages, people placed thyme under the pillows to achieve better sleep and prevent nightmares.
- Thyme was also placed in the coffins of the deceased during the medieval period as an incense since it was believed that the herb assured passage to the next life.
- In Christianity, it was told that the straw bed where Jesus Christ was born was also made of thyme.
- Pliny the Elder wrote believed that burning dried thyme leaves in the house will “put to flight all venomous creatures.”
Thyme Essential Oil