« back to list of herbs


Kills bacteria and fungi, loosens phlegm, relieves coughs

Thyme has a centuries-long history of use, in both the pharmacy and kitchen. This fragrant, ground-hugging shrub was grown in monastery gardens in southern France and in Spain and Italy during the Middle Ages for use as a cough remedy, digestive aid and treatment for intestinal parasites.

These days sprigs of its pungent, minty leaves are mandatory in a bouquet garni — the mixture of seasonings used to spice up just about every French food from soup to salad. And it's still being used medicinally. A solution of thyme's most active ingredient, thymol, is used in such over-the-counter products as Listerine mouthwash and Vicks VapoRub. "Thymol is added to these products because of its well-known antibacterial and antifungal properties," explains Brian M. Lawrence, Ph.D., a research scientist and editor of the Journal of Essential Oil Research.

Thymol apparently also has a therapeutic effect on the lungs. "The oil from the leaves of this plant, when ingested or inhaled, helps to loosen phlegm and relax the muscles in the respiratory tract," explains Norman R. Farnsworth, Ph.D., director of the Program for Collaborative Research in the Pharmaceutical Sciences at the University of Illinois at Chicago.

In Germany, where herbal medicine is considerably more mainstream than it is in the United States, concoctions of thyme are frequently prescribed for coughs, including those resulting from whooping cough, bronchitis and emphysema. In the United States, thyme extract was included in a popular cough syrup, Pertussin, that is no longer on the market. "These days, you are most likely to find thyme in 'cold formula' herbal teas or remedies for coughs that are distributed by small companies and sold at health food stores," Dr. Farnsworth says.

Putting the herb to work

To use thyme safely and effectively, brew a tea or infusion, Dr. Farnsworth suggests. Use two teaspoons of dried herb per cup of boiling water and steep for ten minutes. The Food and Drug Administration includes thyme on its list of herbs generally regarded as safe. "As with many herbs, though, too large a dose may produce intestinal problems," Dr. Farnsworth warns. If you experience diarrhea or bloating, cut back on the amount you're using or discontinue use altogether. And make sure you take thyme as tea, not as oil. Undiluted thyme oil can be toxic, causing headache, nausea, vomiting and weakness, as well as thyroid, heart and lung problems.

Like this page? Please link to us and let the world know!

^ back to top

© 2014 OrganicFoodee.com All Rights Reserved. Website by: Get Lucas