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HERBS: THYME

Thymus vulgaris
Action: Antiseptic, antibacterial, antispasmodic, diaphoretic, carminative, vermifuge, rubefacient, fungicide.
Systems Affected: Lungs, stomach, intestines, general effects on the whole body.
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.

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HERBAL

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