Action: Antiseptic, antibacterial, antispasmodic, diaphoretic,
carminative, vermifuge, rubefacient, fungicide.
Systems Affected: Lungs, stomach, intestines, general effects on the
Preparation and Dosage (thrice daily): Dried flowering plant, dose 1-5
grams by infusion.
Thyme has a long history of culinary, medicinal and other uses. Native
to the Mediterranean region, it was used by the ancient Egyptians as
part of their embalming process for the dead. The Greeks burnt it on
their altars and used it in cooking. The Romans did the same and also
used it as a cosmetic. The Arabs still use it daily as a condiment:
Za'atar, made from powdered Thyme mixed with roasted sesame and
coriander seeds and salt, is eaten with bread.
Thyme has a powerful antiseptic action. The volatile oil contains thymol,
widely used in pharmaceutical and cosmetic preparations, mouthwashes and
toothpastes (it is the chief ingredient of Listerine). It disinfects
wounds, fights bacteria in the urinary tract and destroys intestinal
worms (including hookworms and ascaridis).
Thyme controls nervous and spasmodic cough, clears out phlegm and is
healing to respiratory passages irritated by inflammation and infection.
An infusion (sweetened with honey) is frequently used for throat and
bronchial problems such as acute bronchitis, whooping cough, sore throat
and laryngitis. For coughs and spasmodic complaints the fresh herb is
preferred. Thyme is also of benefit in stimulating appetite and for
diarrhoea and chronic gastritis.
Externally its antiseptic action is useful as a mouth wash and as a
cleansing lotion for the skin. It is often employed in baths to relieve
respiratory distress and skin diseases, and to stimulate circulation in
rheumatic subjects. A strong infusion (100 grams of the dried herb to a
liter of water) is added to the bath water: the volatile oil is absorbed
through the skin and by inhalation as it vaporizes from the water.
Thyme will destroy fungal infections of the skin such as athlete's foot
and skin parasites such as scabies and pubic or head lice. For these
purposes the tincture (prepared from 100 grams of the dried herb to 500
ml of brandy) or essential oil is used.
The dried leaves, powdered and applied as a snuff, are useful for
treating nose-bleeds. The infusion is used daily as a tonic to the scalp
to prevent or arrest falling hair.
Thyme can be used for a wide range of conditions where its antiseptic
action is required. It is particularly beneficial in gastro-intestinal,
respiratory and skin complaints.
Cautionary Notes: Thyme may be used freely externally but should not be
taken in excessive doses internally, 15 or so grams of the dried herb
being an adequate daily intake when prepared as an infusion. Very large
doses taken for extended periods of time may produce toxic symptoms and
possibly over-stimulation of the thyroid gland.